Embedding Digital-First Principles in Businesses

August, 2023

Takeaways from the Unisys Analyst and Advisor Event, June 13–14, 2023

In the fast-paced and ever-evolving world of technology, businesses constantly seek innovative ways to stay ahead of their competition. One approach that has proven to be a game-changer is the digital-first principle. This approach emphasizes putting digital technologies and strategies at the forefront of an organization’s operations, paving the way for improved efficiency, customer experience, and overall profitability of the business.

In this research byte, we explore the significance of embedding digital-first principles into the core of businesses, the profound impact it can have on their growth and sustainability, and how service providers are helping to facilitate this transformation. We highlight the efforts of one such service provider, Unisys, based on its recent analyst and advisor event in June 2023.

Leading with next-gen solutions

Embracing a digital-first approach opens up exciting possibilities for innovation and diversification. By understanding customer needs through data analysis, businesses can identify gaps in their market and develop new products or services to meet those demands. Moreover, integrating emerging technologies such as AI, cloud, IoT, and blockchain can revolutionize industries and create new revenue streams.

Despite the myriad of benefits, transitioning to a digital-first approach can present challenges for some organizations. Ensuring data security, addressing privacy concerns, and upskilling the workforce to adapt to digital technologies are essential steps in this journey. Leadership commitment and a comprehensive digital transformation road map are crucial to successfully navigating these obstacles. Figure 1 shows an overview of several aspects derived from our Digital Workplace Services 2022 RadarView.

LEADING WITH NEXT GEN SOLUTIONS - Embedding Digital-First Principles in Businesses

Figure 1: Key challenges to adopting a digital workplace

At its recent analyst and advisor event in New York on June 13 and 14, 2023, the Chair of the Unisys Board of Directors and CEO Peter Altabef and his business leadership team weaved together several of these areas. They took the narrative forward from last year’s analyst day, focused on transitioning from pandemic-induced temporary mandates to embracing digital-first principles, emphasizing the overarching theme of “Imagination to Realization.” Interestingly, Avasant’s annual event Empowering Beyond Summit 2023, held in May 2023, had a similar theme.

During the Unisys event, Mike Thomson, president and COO of Unisys, expressed the company’s commitment to raising the revenue share of next-generation solutions from the current 35% to 45% by 2026. Furthermore, Unisys aims to establish these solutions as a significant revenue driver by 2028. Unisys’s next-gen solutions strategy is pivoted around three key areas:

    1. Capabilities encompassing cloud applications, hybrid and multicloud environments, as well as data analytics, large language models (LLMs), and AI orchestration.
    2. Workplace solutions focused on enhancing user experiences through data telemetry, analytics, LLMs, governance, and reporting.
    3. Application integration, expansion, and modernization within proprietary environments, along with advanced computing and the delivery of proprietary, SaaS-based products.

These initiatives will address the market need for customization with minimal variability and focus on complexity and skill gap challenges. Many of Unisys’s customers, including leaders and senior executives from Unilever, Dell Technologies, Integer, and Elekta, shared their experiences on how Unisys partnered with them in some of their digital initiatives.

In light of Unisys’s growth strategy and ambitions, Teresa Poggenpohl, chief marketing and communications officer, unveiled the new brand logo, officially launched in November 2022. The logo embodies the brand concept of “experience breakthroughs.”

Shift from centralized technology to customer centricity

Businesses are increasingly adopting central IT solutions to streamline their operations and take advantage of cost-effective and efficient tools. However, this may not be a sustainable approach given the evolving technology landscape and customer dynamics. Some specialized departments or units, focused on growth instead of running the current state of business, may have unique needs that require more decentralized approaches to technology management.

This necessitates taking into account the particular needs of the business unit, such as the degree of control, the variety of apps and workflows, and the potential impact on user experience. Hence, a shift in the approach from centralized technology innovation, where companies focus solely on developing cutting-edge technologies, to a more customer-centric paradigm, for instance, solution innovation, is needed.

Manju Naglapur, SVP and general manager, Cloud, Applications & Infrastructure (CA&I) solutions, and Matt Bologna, VP, go to market, and solution management, CA&I, shared their experience of helping enterprises embrace this shift with a strategy centered around platform engineering.

This involves understanding client archetypes and their buying behavior. Unisys, for example, conducts innovation sessions with every client during quarterly or monthly business reviews and tailors their delivery model based on the digital maturity of the client’s IT infrastructure. This includes the following stages of maturity:

    1. Transform: This stage focuses on creating a solid cloud foundation for those who have recently begun their digital transformation journey. It involves incorporating elements like multicloud capabilities and security measures.
    2. Accelerate: Customers already in the midst of their cloud journey enter this stage, where the focus shifts to achieving business outcomes through data and application modernization.
    3. Disrupt: Mature organizations reach this stage, which involves incorporating AI to gain a competitive advantage. This progression includes moving beyond low-code/no-code frameworks and embracing advanced practices such as DataOps and AIOps (AI for IT operations).

To enable this transformation, Unisys utilizes its cloud management platform, Unisys CloudForte®, as an abstraction layer for fundamental elements and its DevSecOps platform in a standard multicloud setting.

For instance, at a European financial institution, Unisys implemented the CloudForte® asset suite to tackle the challenges of their multicloud environment and continuously changing regulatory requirements. They adopted a cloud-first strategy and established a cloud business office to facilitate organizational change, ensure compliance with governance practices, and enhance the skills of its employees by 40%.

Adapting platform solutions to result-oriented applications

Amid uncertain market conditions and budget constraints, customers increasingly seek outcome-driven applications rather than specific methods. This shift grants businesses greater flexibility and agility.

The introduction of generative AI has sparked interest among businesses in leveraging data analytics and AI to gain actionable insights. Analyzing relevant data enables organizations to make informed decisions, optimize processes, and drive continuous improvement to achieve desired outcomes.

Joel Raper, SVP and general manager, Digital Workplace Solutions (DWS), and Alan Shen, VP, DWS, explained how they assist customers in disrupting their businesses using generative AI chatbots and AI/ML business insights. These technologies analyze employee preferences, behaviors, and patterns to deliver personalized experiences. They facilitate collaboration through intelligent document management, content categorization, and search capabilities.

To improve employee experience, they emphasized the need to shift from experience-level agreements (XLA 1.0) focused on device performance to XLA 2.0, which defines persona-based XLAs tied to business goals and initiatives over time. Unisys leverages its PowerSuite® platform, acquired through Unify Square two years ago, to derive predictive and innovative business insights using AI and data analysis. The platform gains actionable service improvement insights from Unisys’s proprietary intelligent service desk solution, InteliServe™.

As an example, Unisys worked with a global household appliances company and successfully implemented XLA 2.0-based reporting, considering personas and business goals, in just five months from the beginning of their collaboration. It jointly developed an experience governance board responsible for overseeing the XLA life cycle. Additionally, they used PowerSuite® to manage content sprawl, team ownership, and content versioning effectively. It resulted in a significant increase in engineering output, particularly in R&D roles, with a notable 15% increase in its net promoter score (NPS). Furthermore, Unisys assisted the company in transitioning to a PC refresh strategy based on experience rather than following a fixed calendar schedule. This change not only optimized the organization’s PC usage but also contributed to a reduction in the carbon impact associated with 3,000 PCs, showcasing their commitment to environmental sustainability.

In another context, Chris Arrasmith, SVP, Enterprise Computing Solutions, and Sean Tinney, VP, Global Enterprise Computing Solutions, presented how they leverage reinforced learning, advanced analytics, industry expertise, and pre-trained data models to provide outcome-oriented, industry-specific solutions.

They introduced the Unisys Logistics OptimizationTM platform, combining quantum annealing with existing advanced analytics and AI/ML logistics management solutions to deliver computational results much faster. The platform aims to improve on-time performance by reducing ground handling errors by 25%, optimizing cargo loading for 20% fuel efficiency improvement, and decreasing emissions and carbon footprint by 10%.

The way forward

The digital-first approach has proven to be a transformative force in the modern business landscape. By embedding digital-first principles into the core of business operations, organizations can unlock numerous advantages, including enhanced customer experience, agility, data-driven decision-making, and the ability to seize new opportunities.

Embracing the digital-first mindset is not merely a trend; it is a strategic imperative for businesses seeking sustained growth and relevance in the digital era. As we move forward, companies must recognize the potential of this approach and act decisively to shape their future success.

By Gaurav Dewan, Research Director, Avasant