Fujitsu: Digitise now to survive past 2021

C-level leaders put technology at the centre of their roadmaps

A hand made of technology shaking hands with a man in a suit

On stage at Fujitsu Forum 2016 in Munich this week, the company's SEVP and head of Americas and EMEIA, Duncan Tait, called the advent of digital technology "the most fundamental thing to have happened since human beings were able to communicate with each other." This came during a presentation that painted a picture of a workforce drastically changed by new technology over the next few years.

The company commissioned a global study into perceptions of how digital technology will affect businesses, and the results suggest the majority of business leaders believe digital disruption will fundamentally change their work within five years.

In a survey of 1,180 C-level leaders, spread across nine countries and multiple sectors, 52% said that digital disruption means their organisations will not exist in their current forms by 2021. A similar figure (47%) also admitted that digital disruption is making it harder to make long-term business decisions.

The vast majority (98%) of the interviewees believed digital disruption has already impacted, and will continue to impact, their businesses. When asked about the source of that disruption, however, only 12% of executives pointed to themselves. Instead, almost half (45%) said they thought startups and organisations outside of their sector were the catalyst.

"Digital disruption transforms business models and revenue streams, operations and processes, customer relationships and service and more. It is exactly this potential that is causing concern," said Tait. "The fact that despite the potential benefits, a third of executives wish they weren't experiencing digital disruption is stark reading."

While 33% of those interviewed in Fujitsu's survey stress that a fear of change to their organisation's internal culture is problematic, 73% admit that technology will be at the heart of their businesses' ability to thrive in the future. This suggests that, even if some board members see greater integration of technology as a threat to their work, the majority understand that it is a necessity.

"Compared to two years ago ... business leaders are now more confident and know they need to not only keep up but strive to better their competitors and digitalise faster," commented Tait. "The pressure to flourish in the face of digitalisation is clear in this study's findings."

So how can businesses approach new technology without imploding over the next five years? The results of the survey indicate that collaboration will play a big part in the answer. More than two-thirds (67%) said they thought partnering with third-party technology experts will be essential in the future. That puts a lot of power in the hands of tech consultants, at least over the next few years.

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