Building a larger, more connected business

The Virtual Enterprise: Creating a Larger, More Connected Enterprise

By Mark Foster | President, IBM Consulting

July 20, 2022

The past two years have demonstrated the power of exponential technologies like AI, automation and hybrid cloud to accelerate digital transformation, as companies seek to better serve their customers and find new sources of value emerging from the pandemic. Today, new imperatives, such as sustainability and security, are at the heart of business leaders’ concerns, while at the same time these leaders must meet new geopolitical and commercial challenges that impact their chains. of supply, their talents and their costs.

By speaking with clients around the world about their post-COVID strategies, we gain insight into the types of organizations most likely to succeed over the next decade. Successful business leaders embrace what we call the virtual business – a new destination for modern businesses where advanced digitization, platforms and partnerships are the essential model for competitive advantage. The virtual enterprise presents the following approaches:

Develop an ecosystem of partners. Openness is at the heart of virtual business, and in this digitally interconnected world, ecosystems will scale businesses and drive growth. The State Bank of India, for example, has partnered with over 100 e-commerce vendors to transform its traditional banking platform into an online marketplace for third-party offerings and a digital financial supermarket – SBI YONO (“You only need one”) – which aims to attract younger, more digitally savvy customers. SBI YONO quickly became a mobile platform with more than 10 million daily connections and 64 million downloads.

Innovate with scientific and data-driven approaches. In today’s virtual world, openness accelerates a process of scientific discovery. Access to technologies such as AI, automation and now quantum computing allow companies to sift through the massive proliferation of data and use it as a source of innovation in ecosystems. Cleveland Clinic, for example, is setting up the Discovery Accelerator, a center that will deploy hybrid cloud, AI and quantum to improve research in genomics, single-cell transcriptomics, clinical applications, drug discovery and population health.

Develop intelligent workflows. Organizations are increasingly applying AI and automation to reinvent internal business processes such as hiring, supply chain or customer service. Extending these smart workflows across ecosystems provides even more insights to fuel transformation. As a result of the pandemic, Pandora, an international jewelry manufacturer and retailer, was forced to close most of its stores and pivot to online retail. The company quickly transformed a complete order management platform into an omnichannel “commerce on the cloud” solution. Smart workflows now give in-store staff and virtual customer service representatives end-to-end visibility to better meet consumer needs.

Create inclusive human-technology partnerships. One thing we have learned through the pandemic experience is the importance of empathetic engagement. Virtualization has created hybrid ways of working within an organization that require leaders to take a closer look at the intersection of talent and technology. Anxious to create new customer offers on digital channels, Orange France has developed a complete “Orange Campus” program to strengthen the digital skills of employees around a vision of the harmonious articulation between human talent and technology. Orange France stimulated professional mobility by helping employees acquire essential digital skills; fifty percent of the telecom company’s workforce acquired these new skills through the program.

Embrace the power of sustainability. As CEO report that increasing sustainability is one of their top priorities, new technology-enabled business models can help solve some of our biggest environmental challenges. As part of its efforts to create a sustainable world without hunger, Norwegian company Yara has created a digital platform for sustainable agriculture with the aim of connecting and empowering independent farmers around the world. The yara The platform provides holistic digital services and instant agronomic advice to over three million farmers, helping to avoid deforestation and increase food production on existing farmland.

Create an open and secure hybrid cloud architecture. An open and secure hybrid cloud architecture is needed to effectively use data and provide the flexibility, agility, and security required by digital transformation. It also enables the openness needed to connect with ecosystem partners and fully exploit the potential of digitization. Bharti Airtel, one of India’s largest integrated telecom operators, has turned to a modern hybrid cloud architecture to deliver more responsive networks that leverage automation and AI to deploy new services in the right place and at the correct network level.

In today’s world, change is the only constant. Business leaders must embrace the new virtual enterprise and capitalize on new opportunities that will give them a competitive advantage in the market. As these customer stories show, IBM is uniquely positioned to help them at every stage of their journey.

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