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Shant Soghomonian, General Manager Channel, Dell EMC ANZ

 

We’ve all heard the saying that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. When it comes to digital transformation, your customers know they must make the journey, but are unsure how to take those steps – or which should be the first one.

 

Organisations clearly understand they need to make a digital transformation. According to the 2018 Digital Transformation Index, 78 per cent of Australian and New Zealand business leaders believe digital transformation should be more widespread in their organisations.

 

The problem is that they are struggling to make it happen. In Australia, one in three businesses are behind the digital business curve, while in New Zealand this number is just under half. Further, only 7 per cent of businesses in Australia and 2 per cent in New Zealand are classified as fully transformed ‘Digital Leaders’. While the number of digital leaders in Australia has grown since our inaugural Digital Transformation Index from 3 per cent it’s still not where we need to be.

 

Organisations face several barriers as they make the leap. According to the 1,200 business leaders we spoke to in the region, here are the most pressing ones in Australia and New Zealand.

 


Budget and Resources


Overhauling your entire business to become a digital organisation can require substantial investment. Not just in money, but also time and the effort of acquiring buy-in from the whole business. While transformation doesn’t need to happen in a single step, it does need a holistic plan of how it all works together.

 

There’s a trend emerging where some buyers make purchasing decisions without even consulting their own IT department. This makes working with a partner who can facilitate well-informed technology decisions pivotal. You can map the shortest, most cost-effective path to digital transformation and help identify the ways they can get the best bang for their buck. While replacing legacy technologies obviously creates long-term cost saving for the business, as a first step you help them leverage existing infrastructure and the newer environments, to deliver agility and cost-saving benefits.

 

With some organisations realising that moving to the cloud without picking the right type can be a costly misstep, your expertise can ensure that they get a multi-cloud environment that’s fit for purpose, for the right price.

 


Data privacy and cybersecurity concerns


As businesses increasingly rely on data to drive important decisions, the nature and sensitivity of data protection changed dramatically. The challenge now is ensuring that it and cybersecurity covers
every inch of the organisation.

 

The good news is that half of Australian and 41 per cent New Zealand businesses are building security and privacy into all devices, applications and algorithms. You would hope that those surveyed who aren’t doing this are heavily represented in the 53 per cent of Australian and New Zealand businesses that intend to invest in cybersecurity in the next 1-3 years.

 

This is where the partnership aspect of the channel comes into play again. You can help ensure that the appropriate protection is in play from the datacentre to the network to the user and every stage in between, as it moves through the multi-cloud environment

 


Immature digital culture

Digital transformation isn’t just about changing technology, it’s changing the business. Many organisations are looking to do just this, with 40 per cent of Australian and 36 per cent of New Zealand businesses saying they’re embracing agile software development. This allows them to develop faster and more efficiently.

They also understand that becoming a digital business isn’t just having pockets of technology, but all elements of the organisation working together. Consequently, 62 per cent of Australian businesses are sharing knowledge and, equipping IT leaders with business skills and business leaders with IT skills. New Zealand is less committed to this with only 43 per cent in the same position.

You’re placed to provide the solutions and guidance that connects these dots for your customers.

 


Information overload

Once, if your customers wanted information about products
or solutions they had a limited pool to dive into. There was you and other players in your space, brochures from vendors and trade publications.

Now that pool has grown to an ocean of information, and while it’s great that all that insight is available anywhere at any time, it can also make that ocean feel like a tsunami. Organisations are looking for someone to help them through choice paralysis, with a partner who can give them the guidance to focus on what really matters when making decisions.


It also means that they are looking for solutions that stems information overload within the business, given the explosion in the volume of data. Enabling automation wherever possible does the hard work for them.

 

Lack of the right skill sets and expertise

There is an appetite in many organisations to build skills within the business. Both countries acknowledged a skills gap, with 43 per cent of Australian and 40 per cent of New Zealand businesses working to develop the right skills sets and expertise in-house, such as teaching staff how to code. But this does not mean the channel is being cut out of the skills picture.

There’s never going to be a scenario where all skills can be found or developed in-house all the time, at least not without a massive blowout in headcount. As the trusted advisor, you can work with customers to identify where it makes sense to recruit or build in-house, where automation can deliver the required functionality and where outsourcing makes sense

The channel is no stranger to managing change. The industry itself has moved from selling boxes to partnering with customers to navigate the cloud. This partnership means its ideally placed to overcome the barriers to digital transformation that plague many organisations in Australian and New Zealand.

By Ken Mills, General Manager, IoT Surveillance and Security, Dell Technologies


Changing trends and surveillance technologies are creating powerful new solutions across safety, security, and day-to-day operations for these six leading industries.



Surveillance is rapidly changing across the world, and the technology supporting it is getting pretty complex fast. Gone are the days of analog cameras and single-person control rooms. Today, effective surveillance spans an interconnected, intelligent ecosystem of high-definition imaging, multi-modal sensors, data-sharing networks, and powerful analytics - a combination resulting in insights derived from digital images and video, otherwise known as “computer vision.”


Industries from just about every vertical are leveraging advanced surveillance technologies to protect employee well-being, safeguard communities, and improve overall processes and services, but perhaps none more than these six key industries where surveillance solutions are achieving some of the most impressive results around the world.


Education


Just ten years ago high schools were one of the primary users of surveillance cameras. Today, however, we see nearly every division of education integrate and adopt new surveillance technologies in order to keep students, faculty, and employees safe - whether that’s from vandalism, theft, or a potential active-shooter situation.


On college campuses, surveillance is more than just a tool for safety. It’s become a powerful recruiting device and persuader for students and parents who are increasingly conscientious of campus safety. In fact, popular sites such as US News & World Report include campus safety as part of their college rankings, referencing safety data compiled by the U.S. Department of Education.


State and Local Government (SLG)


When it comes to government, surveillance is largely about safe communities. From small-scale town-wide initiatives to major country-wide overhauls, state and local CIOs are leveraging quicker, smarter, and more secure surveillance infrastructures in order to keep their communities feeling safe and to meet the rising demand for more efficient interaction and information transfer.


According to a recent IDC report, intelligent transportation and data-driven public safety leveraging video surveillance and street lighting represent a quarter of spending by smart cities this year.


For many state and local governments the top priority is modernising mission-critical legacy systems to support integration with newer, more secure infrastructures, and government leaders are seeing the successful impacts right away. For example, 78 per cent of those who have deployed cloud-enabled solutions say they have lowered their asset-investment threshold and improved their ability to innovate. That includes decreasing response times to criminal activity and emergencies, deterring criminal and gang activity, providing digital evidence and documentation, and improving safety on roads and sidewalks.


Effective SLG surveillance includes counter-terrorism, and when it comes down to it, it’s about creating an environment where the community as a whole can feel safer, knowing police and other emergency responders are equipped with the best tools to react and respond quickly.

 

Transportation


Branching out from state and local government, the transportation industries that create and connect these communities share several of the same problems. Mass transit - including trains, subways, buses, planes, etc. all have crime.


Theft, assault, vandalism, and terrorism are most effectively prevented and stopped with intelligent end-to-end engineered surveillance systems that not only document current crimes but deter them in the future.


When it comes to airport security, the first thought that tends to come to mind is Customs and Border Protection, but it’s about so much more - including safety and crime prevention at TSA checkpoints, baggage claim areas, tarmacs, and terminals.


Transit systems are also incorporating computer vision to improve surveillance for traffic incident management, first-responder alerts, analysing behaviour of travellers, and helping to eliminate overcrowding during peak travel hours. For example, busy subway systems can leverage people counting to alert engineers when trains have reached capacity.


Healthcare


Healthcare as a leading surveillance market may come as a surprise to some, but a remarkable determining factor that consistently comes out of industry surveys as to whether healthcare employees leave or stay in their positions is how safe they feel in the workplace. This is critical in such an extremely competitive industry where one of the largest challenges is attracting and retaining highly qualified employees - employees who need to feel safe walking around the hospital, being with patients, and walking to and from parking lots often in the middle of the night.


Computer vision is also being deployed in healthcare facilities to help identify workplace-comp fraud and undue claims as well as to help prevent theft of prescription drugs.


An up-and-coming surveillance use case in healthcare is remote patient monitoring and digital patient sitters. Video surveillance and computer vision help provide round-the-clock virtual care to those that need it most while helping to minimise overcrowding in hospitals, giving patients the freedom to be at home versus a hospital bed. The right visibility of those patients, in turn, helps caregivers administer the best care possible.


Casinos and Entertainment


Casinos are unique in that they differ from most other industries in one major way: strict surveillance requirements are legally required to be fulfilled before business doors can even open. Because so much surveillance technology becomes a business line item, budgets are set aside.


That being said, it becomes the utmost importance for casinos to invest in the right technology that’s reliable and consistently operating for business continuity.


For example, since each gambling table is required to have three cameras covering it at all times, losing one camera can force a table to shut down. A lost table means lost profits. Now consider if a larger percentage of cameras fail, then the entire casino floor or even beyond would be required to shut down. Issues with surveillance hardware or software can translate to substantial losses for a casino business.


Retail


Many modern retailers are using video surveillance in some fairly straightforward use cases like traditional loss prevention, but some are leveraging edge-to-core-to-cloud architecture and hybrid strategies to stand out from their competitors in a way that is anything but traditional.


Classic loss prevention is a cornerstone of all retailers - looking for stealing either internally or externally and reducing the amount of loss that occurs so that every dollar saved goes towards the bottom line. Retailers are now able to use computer vision not just to identify losses that are actively occurring, but to predict complex patterns like customer insights. For instance, what kind of display will engage a customer the most, or for warehouse-style retailers, what are the risks associated with stacked items that may potentially collapse and cause injury and a lawsuit?

 

End-to-End Surveillance from Camera to Core to Cloud


A recurring pattern across industries comes down to the difficulty in deciding what kind of technology stack and surveillance solution is appropriate for a particular organisation and how to navigate the complexities of testing, validating and deploying an integrated system. Ideally, the solution needs to be flexible and scalable enough to solve today’s problems while effectively preparing for problems that may arise tomorrow - whether that’s terrorism, vandalism, theft, or a potential active-shooter situation. And on the flip side, what opportunities can be had from this new age of computer vision, whether it’s automated traffic alerts, virtual sitters, or customer-retention programs?


That’s where Dell Technologies IoT Solution for Surveillance comes into play. As the number one surveillance infrastructure provider in the world, we’re transforming the way surveillance technology is delivered with an open, holistic and integrated platform, offering customers their choice of devices, software, and analytics. Our lab-validated solutions built on Dell and Intel® technologies combined with our expert strategic consulting services and backed by the Dell EMC Global Services and Support team equip organisations across all industries - from public to private sector - with the right solutions, skill sets, and services needed to meet their surveillance needs today and well into tomorrow.


For more information, visit: www.dellemc.com/surveillance

By Donnie Oliphant




At Dell, we are very proud of the XPS 13. Not only is it a laptop that embodies our continuous innovation, it is also a laptop that has garnered the admiration and accolades of the industry as a whole. Throughout the last few years, reviews have more or less deemed it a perfect laptop, except for one small thing – the placement of our camera. When we disrupted the industry in 2015 by introducing the first edge to edge InfinityEdge screen, it enabled us, for the first time, to fit a 13-inch display in an 11-inch frame. But we also found ourselves faced with a conflict. With our top bezel of the display too small to fit the camera, and technology and engineering not yet advanced enough to provide us with a smaller camera, how could we maintain the integrity of our new narrow bezel? For the time being, we compromised on building the camera into the bottom bezel but immediately set out on a mission to one day move it back to the top.

 

Four years later, we’ve come a long way. Here’s our journey of introducing quite possibly the smallest HD webcam ever built – placed modestly back on the top bezel – and officially perfecting the XPS 13.

 

Solidifying a new sensor

 

Early on in the development process, we were able to engineer down from a 6-7mm camera dimension to 4mm, but that was still far too big for the XPS 13, which was designed for extreme mobility. We found that the microscopic gold wires that connected the sensor to the camera’s circuit board were taking up critical space, and that we needed a new sensor design to further reduce the size. We worked with our partners to create a new generation sensor that was a smaller format and moved the wiring pads to the sides so it could be attached horizontally. That eliminated ¾ mm to 1 mm in additional camera height.

 

A new approach to lens design

 

Next, we moved on to tackle the lens. We once again worked closely with our supplier to heavily invest in the design and assembly of these ultra-small components. They even needed to redesign their manufacturing process to miniaturise everything, drastically reducing the package of the lens. They had to develop new capabilities to make all the elements thinner and smaller, while still maintaining incredibly tight tolerances that preserve the lens’ optical quality. Traditionally, the lens and plastic body of the camera are two separate pieces threaded together manually to adjust the focus - sometimes by hand. But as we took a closer look, we realised the threads were adding unnecessary thickness to the camera. We took a page from the smartphone industry and implemented active alignment technology, a first for PC webcams.

 

Our supplier built an assembly machine for laptop cameras specifically to support Dell’s products. These machines are unlike anything we’ve used before and comprise an ultra-precise robot. This highly automated assembly also lends to less variation from module to module, ensuring every customer can expect the same performance and quality.

 

Employing this all-new assembly process, however, meant we had to invest in more than a year of testing to ensure reliability. For example, during pilot runs, we discovered sometimes a small amount of glue could expand beyond the camera body, pushing the top bezel larger than acceptable. So we introduced a laser beam to trim any extra glue, ensuring each camera module is exactly the same size. Through this tested manufacturing process, we were able to shrink the height of the camera another ¾ mm, achieving a vanishingly small 2.25mm final height. Bingo.

 

Smaller without sacrifice

 

In reducing the camera size, we risked lowering the quality for video conferencing in low light conditions.  When it is dark, it is more difficult for your camera to decipher the beginning and end of an object, so we implemented temporal noise reduction (the first PC maker to do so), that looks at multiple frames of data to decide what’s an edge and what is not, and preserves more of the fine details. We were able to see a 3-4x improvement in the noise levels, enabling us to preserve video quality while reducing the camera size.

 

We made it happen

 

Through this thorough process of tests, failures, redos and continued innovations over the last four years, we were able to reduce the camera from 7mm to 2.25mm and maintain exceptional high resolution video and picture quality. We disrupted the industry first introducing the narrow bezel trend, and now we are changing the game again with quite possibly the smallest HD webcam ever built. XPS 13 remains at the top of its class. 


By Doug Schmitt - President, Dell EMC Services

 

As we approach the second decade of the 21st century - and a new age of Human-Machine Partnerships, Dell Technologies is predicting that 2019 will be The Year of the Data-Driven Digital Ecosystem.


Machine learning (ML) and emerging artificial intelligence (AI) are empowering “data-driven digital ecosystems” that can analyse vast volumes of data for insight to improve outcomes - and to get continually smarter and smarter at doing so.


As part of our own digital transformation in Services, we are using these techniques to pioneer new and better ways to serve customers. Our data science teams have identified the enormous potential of AI/ML in multiple business areas. We utilise it in our proactive, predictive support capabilities and it’s playing a significant role in our supply chain. Jeff Clarke predicted that supply chains will get stronger and smarter in 2019 and the Global Service Parts team is delivering on that vision, taking advantage of AI/ML to deliver a better customer repair experience.


Applying Predictive, ML, AI and Operational Research Methodologies to Unlock New Insights


Dell EMC Services has been collecting and analysing data from our service parts supply chain for years. Today, our Global Service Parts organisation manages procurement, inventory, repair and the recycling of parts for 100+ million products at customer sites under warranty or service agreement in 160+ countries around the world.


Massive amounts of historical and near real-time service parts data - tracking the lifecycle of parts as they move in and out of our 800+ warehouses and to and from customer sites - provides a rich trove of data for unlocking new insights.


So what type of actions can we take based on the insights we extract from all that data?


To continue innovation and evolution of our supply chain, we applied predictive, ML, AI and operational research methodologies in two areas for:

  • Sharper planning - for more accurate demand forecasting, with less human effort
  • Smarter repair - through predictive analytics to reduce repair time


Let’s take a look at what each of these means to our business and most importantly, to our customers.


Sharper Forecasting, with Less Human Effort


The unpredictability of immediate, short- and long-term demand for repair parts makes accurate forecasting an ongoing challenge. To tackle this, our experienced parts planners and data scientists worked together to develop and supervise a data-driven digital ecosystem that uses machine learning to identify and prioritise variables, build predictive models and generate plans to more precisely pre-position inventory across the globe.


Today, about 35% of our planning is generated autonomously, without human input, greatly reducing the amount of time our expert resources spend on the front end of this process. Once plans are generated, our parts planners have only to review and adjust them before they are approved. We are confident that as the planning tool continues to “learn” from planner modifications and usage patterns and as AI continues to evolve, we will be able to rely on a fully autonomous planning tool in the next few years, freeing our planners to focus on more complex issues and additional tool development.


Smarter Repair, with Reverse Supply Chain Data


When a repair is needed, of course, we want to make the process as quick and efficient as possible so we are using data science techniques in this area as well.


We use reverse supply chain data - data that comes from built-in system diagnostics, tech support workflow, hands-on diagnostics, defective part evaluations and other sources. It informs predictive analytics that helps us identify the likelihood of failures and helps accelerate repair times.


Our new predictive repair engine combines relevant data and identifies patterns to recommend what parts will be needed before a unit arrives at the repair depot, so a swap-out can be quickly completed. In an initial pilot, we achieved 80% accuracy in identifying the correct part, reducing the movement of parts by 15% and cutting time-to-repair by 20 minutes. Efficiencies continue to improve, as the technology learns from confirmation of accurate recommendations and correction of inaccurate ones. The repair engine also learns from extensive, post-event failure analysis of parts at the repair depot, improving diagnoses and providing valuable information to product engineers working on next-generation systems.


This predictive repair engine is also making our supply chain greener and more efficient, by helping to reduce waste and shipping and the need to manufacture and manage as many parts in the first place.


Better and Better Service Experience for Our Customers


Emerging AI technologies, machine learning and other innovative techniques are helping us get smarter and smarter so we can minimise disruption and inconvenience, prevent issues or resolve them faster and make technology simpler for all of us.

By Tim Wright, Consultant, Workforce Transformation, Dell EMC Education Services

 

Gen Z – those born between the mid-1990s and early 2000s – could potentially account for more than 20% of the workforce by 2020. To better understand the first digital-native generation and how they will reshape the workplace, Dell Technologies commissioned a study, Gen Z: The future has arrived, involving 12,000 high school and college students (ages 16-23) from around the globe to get their views on technology and the future of work.


genz-20-600x150.jpgSource: “Are you ready for Gen Z?” Infographic

 

Technical Consciousness


As Gen Z enters the global workforce, technical consciousness stands clearly as their most salient characteristic. Aptly labelled “digital natives,” Gen Z’ers have lived their entire lives in the presence of digital technology, i.e. smartphones, laptops, tablets, home technology systems, and social media. Consequently, they are innately conscious of the presence, use, and ubiquity of technology.

 

Chief Learning Officer, reports that “[Gen Z] are not only technically savvy, but also expect technology to be a natural, and frequent, part of their learning and work.

 

Overwhelming, majorities of respondents to the global survey affirmed Gen Z individuals value technology and its impact in these ways:

 

  • Technology literacy matters (97%)
  • Experienced technology as a platform in their formal education (98%)
  • Technology offered by an employer a factor in taking the job (91%)
  • Technology and automation will make work environments more equitable (80%)


The global survey also found that:

 

  • Gen Z wants to work with cutting-edge technology
  • Great technology will entice Gen Z job candidates
  • Gen Z cares about data security, but is unsure how to address it

 

GENZ.jpgSource: “Are you ready for Gen Z?” Infographic

 

These digital native values are meaningful factors in preparing for, accepting, and realising the value of these newcomers to the workforce, and accordingly, organisations should demonstrate a “tech-first” approach in several ways:

 

  • Technology in operational processes: hiring, orientation, daily work
  • Technology in informational and educational processes: online, on demand, mobile, and blended
  • Technology relevant to developmental efforts: removing gaps by encouraging STEM careers for women, for example


Job Skill Concerns


Survey respondents indicated a fairly high level of confidence in their technology literacy and competence, +/- 75%. However, their certainty of non-technical skills and of readiness for initial work experiences is not so strong.

 

Deloitte confers in their 2017 Insights report, Gen Z enters the workforce:

 

Technology has impacted the development of cognitive skills, including intellectual curiosity, among the next generation, creating the risk of skill gaps when they enter the workforce en masse. A shortfall in highly cognitive social skills such as problem-solving, critical thinking, and communication, could be particularly evident. Most of Gen Z too acknowledges the importance of in-person communication and its own deficiencies in this area.

 

High numbers desire significant levels of human connection and communication on the job. In several ways this human connection is identified:

 

  • Preference for in-person communication over telephone, even greater over texting and messaging
  • Desire to learn from co-workers on the job
  • Willingness to tutor co-workers in technology literacy
  • Choice of workplace over work-at-home and choice of team over independent work


 

The implications drawn from these preferences are several, all of which involve interpersonal opportunities for Gen Z:

 

  • Technology mentorships that may cross generational, experiential, and/or functional borders
  • Internships, rotation programs that expose Gen Z to opportunities to learn from others
  • Leadership and stretch assignments to build Gen Z confidence in non-tech skills


Learning Resources

 

Technology plays a significant role in the formal educational experience of Gen Z. Interestingly, they see social media as both an appropriate learning platform and as a valuable tool in the workplace. An almost equal percentage prefer to learn on the job, from co-workers or others, than online.

 

This seems to indicate their familiarity with technology as the method of conveying information, familiarity that leads to comfort. It may also indicate their realisation that the educational content from someone with actual experience is greater than e-learning.


IMAGE 3.jpg“You need to create bite-sized learning modules to keep Gen Z-ers attention.”

 

Another interesting set of findings are the types of ways in which Gen Z desire to work with technology. There is relatively even division across the technology range, from R&D to developing apps for non-tech purposes:

 

  • Developing technology (R&D) (46%)
  • Use technology to help others or the environment (40%)
  • Ensure the appropriate use of technology (cybersecurity) (39%)
  • Implement technology for others to use (IT) (38%)
  • Apply apps and devices to do work that is not traditional tech work (37%)


This logically impacts what types of learning they will need to enhance their work. Their familiarity with technology and their desire to learn from people on the job co-equally affect how the L&D may be provided. Gen Z has been as one with immediate access to information. While they may have greater confidence in learning non-tech skills from those people with whom they work (including their boss), they will not give up relying on almost instant instructional videos and mini-lessons.

 

Leveraging-Education-and-Technology-to-Prepare-the-Gen-Z-Workforce_figure3-600x181.pngGen Z are tech-savvy, digital natives to the core and they’re joining your workforce. They bring new skills, high expectations and a desire to shake things up.

 

Shift eLearning reports in 2018: “While [Gen Z] may need less training on technology, they may require more in offline interpersonal communication … [and] You need to create bite-sized learning modules to keep Gen Z-ers attention.”

 

Implications that we derive from this array of responses and conclusions suggest these focuses:

 

  • Attention the quality and viability of online content as current, accurate, and complete
  • Application of design thinking to L&D: learner interviews, empathic design, rapid prototyping, testing and revising
  • Provision of methodologies appropriate to content and learning expectations: on-the-job opportunities, online and on demand, partnership/stewardship, for example
  • Combination of attention to Gen Z value of technology and people-connection


Summary


Delivered in the preferred modality for a Gen Z audience – i.e. predominantly online, on-demand, mobile and blended – L&D organisations with a broad portfolio of Associate-, Specialist-, and Expert-level training and certification in these cutting-edge technologies will be well-positioned to prepare the Gen Z workforce entering today’s transforming IT environments.

 

Sources


Carolyn O’Boyle, Josefin Atack, Dr. Kelly Monahan: Generation Z enters the workforce (Deloitte Insights, 2017)

 

Further Reading

 

Dell Technologies Gen Z Research Reveals Good News: We Haven’t Raised a Generation of Robots

 

Four Things to Expect as Gen Z Descends on the Workplace

By Kathryn Nave, Contributor

 

In 2012, Topher White was taking a break from his work as a web engineer at France’s ITER fusion reactor by volunteering at an Indonesian gibbon reserve, when he had an encounter that would change the trajectory of his life. Hiking out into what seemed like pristine rainforest one morning, White ran straight into a man with a chainsaw, chopping an old teak tree into lumber.


The reserve was small, he wasn’t far from the ranger station. Still, the three full-time guards were unable to keep a constant eye over a square mile of forest, making small-scale logging a tempting proposition for many living nearby.


An inveterate engineer, White is the kind of person who, even in the rainforest, happened to have some electrical components and an old phone on hand, “just for fun.” So he hacked together a rudimentary listening station and demonstrated it for the Rangers. They liked it enough that White headed back a year later to set up a permanent system.


This proved its value in just 48 hours when White received a GPS alert for chainsaw sounds on the other side of the reserve and headed out with the Rangers to investigate. They arrived at the location within minutes to find a small group of men from the local village chopping down trees. This unexpectedly rapid response was enough to send a message. White said, “You can’t log here anymore, because if you do, you will get caught.”


Since then, White has raised over $160,000 on Kickstarter to create conservation non-profit Rainforest Connection. The organisation has now launched hundreds of smartphone ‘Guardians’ in remote regions of forests all over the world, expanding monitoring capacities for local conservation groups from the Tembé tribe of the Brazilian Amazon to Peruvian government rangers in the Alto Mayo. Together, the efforts have protected over 100 square miles of forest.


Creating the Guardians


While the operation has scaled, the Guardians are still built on the same smartphone bases. For one thing, it’s a small contribution to reducing the impact of the 350,000 phones discarded daily in the U.S. alone. For another, “It’s actually a great little computer to write software for,” White explained. “It has all the sensors that we need and it can connect to the cellular networks. Building something like that from scratch would be very hard.”


Instead, discarded smartphones are repackaged into a box with a powerful microphone, a battery reserve and a solar panel, specially designed to maximise the energy from the sun flecks that make it through the tree canopy. The Guardian contraption is then placed around 150 feet up a tree, accessing cell towers up to 12 miles away and detecting sounds over a mile away.


Still, the innovative project faces its own set of challenges. “It feels like launching a satellite to me,” White said. “The Guardians are in places that are so inaccessible, and they’re trying to do a very energy-intensive thing in this very harsh, wet and hot environment.”


Worse, still, are the bugs. “You learn that in the forest, insects rule, and they sure do love to chew things up,” White mused. “It’s an arms race against the termites out there.”


And then there is the noise. From the calls of howler monkeys to the squawking of the macaws, the rainforest is rarely a quiet place. No matter how sensitive your microphone is, picking out anomalies amid the cacophony is a difficult task.


“This could be one of the easiest ways to make a significant impact on preventing climate change.”

— Topher White, Founder and CEO of Rainforest Connection


Yet rather than running this computationally demanding analysis on the phone itself, the Guardians continuously stream audio to the cloud, where Rainforest Connection’s system analyses it for suspicious sounds, like chainsaws, trucks, or motorbikes. More recently, they’ve also begun to spot predictive patterns, such as the calling sounds of certain bird species falling unusually quiet when intruders draw near, in order to send warnings before loggers even arrive at a site.


This sensitivity in pattern recognition is crucial now that Rainforest Connection is helping people take on larger and more dangerous black-market operations, where confrontation could potentially be much more dangerous than it was back in Indonesia.


“A lot of our partners typically wouldn’t show up at a site because if they do it’s going to be a gunfight,” White said. “That’s what we’re trying to avoid and that’s why this real-time or even predictive response is important, because if you stop a truck on the way in, then the stakes are pretty low.”


In the predictive scenario, no crime has been committed yet, but the invaders know they’re going to get caught so, in some cases, they will turn around and just leave. Alternatively, “if you show up once they’re already cutting down trees,” White said, “then the stakes are high and people can get hurt.”


Biomonitoring


Successful intervention usually has a longer-term impact than just driving the loggers away one time. Illegal logging relies on being able to operate undercover, and once the organisations know that an area is under surveillance, it’s typically enough to keep them away for at least a year, White explained. This yearly estimate is based on the organisation’s own observations, as well as reports from partners at the five sites where the systems are installed.


That leaves Rainforest Connection with the question of what to do with the hundreds of hours of undisturbed rainforest recordings that they’re continuously collecting. One solution is to use machine learning to allow ecologists and biologists to build sound profiles for species that interest them. From here, the researchers would be able to — at-will — select relevant recordings from Rainforest Connection’s database.


“Right now, if you’re an ecologist and you want to do research on the rainforest, you’d have to apply for a grant and wait months for it to come through,” White said. “Then you’d fly out and record for maybe two weeks, and then you take this back to your lab and spend years analysing just a couple of weeks of audio you were able to collect. With [Guardian technology], we can make years worth of audio data, from hundreds of locations, available to them instantly.”


Ultimately, White wants anyone in the world to be able to listen to the sounds of the forest. Rainforest Connection’s smartphone app now allows anyone to tune into sound streams from six different locations in Peru, Ecuador, and South Africa. This is important, he explained, because the survival of the rainforests should matter to more than just the animal species and the humans who inhabit them.


“The destruction of the rainforests is the second largest contributor to climate change,” White said. “The CO2 emissions from deforestation are greater than all other forms of transportation put together.” But 90 per cent of this deforestation is illegal and because it’s already a crime, there’s no additional mandate to stop the ongoing abuse.


With White’s rainforest engineering underway, it seems possible to tackle the crux of the issue. For White, “this could be one of the easiest ways to make a significant impact on preventing climate change.”

By Shant Soghomonian, General Manager Channel ANZ at Dell EMC.

 

As we close out another amazing and transformational year in the technology industry, it’s important not only to see how far we’ve come but to cast our gaze to the future and analyse how new technologies will shape the channel in 2019 and beyond. Here at Dell Technologies, we’ve mapped our pathway into the new year, charting our top predictions for the year ahead.

 

What’s clear from these predictions is that data will continue to play a key part in business processes and decision making into the future, with cloud computing continuing to evolve to meet changing business requirements. Alongside these developments is the rise of AR and VR as viable learning tools and stronger, technology-driven communication tools that will bolster our postmodern workplaces.

 

Rise of the hybrid cloud

 

In a future that is increasingly driven by big data, cloud computing will become more entrenched in modern businesses, effectively implementing new data, compute and automation tools to streamline traditional processes. A shift towards a multi-cloud strategy will drive the adoption and integration of AI and machine learning in businesses, while giving organisations the freedom and flexibility desired from our work futures.

 

While these systems will come with stricter compliance and privacy standards, they will also enable the growth of public data centres that promote more intelligent end device integration. The adoption and combination of private, public and hybrid clouds will allow businesses to select the best systems for their workloads, application and data needs, tailoring their requirements for a flexible future. Embracing these new, dynamic processes will unlock a variety of business benefits.

 

With enterprises increasingly looking for advice on cloud strategies that can be adapted to their unique workloads, it’s essential for the channel to be across the multi-cloud play and become that trusted adviser to their customer. We have seen an increasing trend of solution providers complementing their traditional on-premise infrastructure offerings and partnering with public cloud providers. These relationships are helping to shape the multi-cloud agenda.

 

Adaptive communication and training

 

Far from disrupting future work environments, new technologies will maximise productivity, shaping the future of work. Communication is key, and technologies like AR and VR will facilitate the growth of work relationships by enabling web-based collaboration. Given that approximately 80 per cent of knowledge experienced in VR is retained, this opens up a new world of possibilities for engaged and experiential learning.

 

Driven by the performance and adaptability of cloud technologies, these tools will take advantage of wi-fi connectivity and flexible work environments to support long distance learning and a shared online community. These unique tools will also translate into new training opportunities in the workforce that generate tailored insights and new forms of knowledge.

 

Preparing for our IT future

 

As we move into the future, it’s important to consider the legacy that we create for the next generation of workers. The IT professionals of the future will be faced with a variety of challenges that must be mapped including the continued development of hybrid cloud computing and the rise of adaptive technologies.

 

The growing symbiosis between young people and technology reveals a need to harness this interest and enable them to shape the technologies of the future. Not only that, but more must be done to encourage the growth of a diverse and multi-skilled workforce. 98 per cent of Gen Z will have used technology as part of their formal education, with many already having knowledge of basic software coding. These skills will become an essential part of future learning, and engagement in STEM practices must be encouraged to develop this future.

 

STEM programs at school can inspire young people to become more involved in the technologies they will likely rely on when they join the workforce. With the rising need for technology literacy, it’s becoming increasingly important for the IT industry and the channel to work together to prepare young people for this future early.

 

Our predictions reveal a multi-channel, cloud driven future – one defined by the passions and skills of our young people. To harness these developments, it’s important for the channel to embrace innovative, new technologies and arm themselves with the knowledge necessary to integrate them into their customers’ workplaces. With this, together we can deliver the speed and productivity that will be expected of businesses long into the future.  

Dmitri Chen, COO and Vice President Specialty Sales, APJ, Dell


According to Gartner’s 2018 CIO Agenda survey, 95 per cent of CIOs expect their jobs to change or be ‘remixed’ due to digitalisation. An increasing emphasis on becoming a change leader is expected to be matched by the assumption of additional, broader responsibilities and a switch in focus away from the delivery of IT.


The metamorphosis of the CIO is underway.


As we have seen, being a CIO today is more about aligning a holistic view of technology – including the people who use it and the data it produces – with the business: overseeing people, processes and applications within a company’s IT ecosystem so that its collective outcomes support and inform the business’ goals. Gone are the days in which IT is viewed as a back-end support function, separate from the rest of the business.


In addition to managing the IT infrastructure – including policy and practice development, planning, budget, resourcing and training – the CIO is also expected to contribute to higher profits and business transformation. With technology at the core of modern businesses, today’s CIO is positioned to drive and enable better results for the company and its customers.


In that context, there are three essential attributes that the successful, modern CIO of today must have in their armoury:


1. Facilitation

The CIO today is a communicator, catalyst, collaborator, enabler, facilitator. CIOs are expected to provide the coherence, guidance and forethought in areas of technology adoption and leadership, providing business-rooted reasoning and counsel for teams across the company. Beyond their fundamental accountability to company stakeholders, CIOs also need to facilitate conversations among developers, data scientists and other IT specialists to constantly improve the delivery and scope of their company’s latest products and services.


Where they were once primarily concerned with managing the delivery of technology, CIOs today are focused more on pushing the boundaries of their company by introducing and inspiring innovation and driving-up performance capabilities.


Connected CIO visual 2.png


2.Skills Development and Talent Retention

Successful digital transformation is not just about technology: upskilling the people who will interact with that technology and retooling processes in parallel, will complete the transformation-combination – and help to enable faster time-to-market, new revenue-generating business models and organisational efficiencies. One example: as the benefits of digitalisation are understood, the CIO’s team will face increasing demand for both consultancy and enablement: here, it will be imperative that they are fluent not only in systems and applications but also in the wider needs and business priorities of the teams that they are supporting.


Companies also expect the CIO to help ensure that all employees are trained on and productive with the latest technology being implemented. Frustration is never far away when team members feel that they do not have access to the right tools for success. By keeping an open ear, focusing on the user-experience and placing an emphasis on the necessary empowerment, CIOs can help to attract and retain talent while maximising productivity.


Connected CIO visual 3.png

 

3. Evaluation

The ability to measure, benchmark and replicate success is essential as CIOs are assessed on the progress of the business’ digital transformation plans. Of course, this means defining a clear set of KPIs up-front and returning to them regularly – relentlessly – so that the transformation journey can be seen and understood in real-time, with course-corrections made in a timely fashion.


The CIO must have a finger firmly on this pulse: how is the ‘digital health’ of the organisation developing (i.e. how much revenue is coming in via digital channels? Is each functional group contributing to digital initiatives?)? Is the business attracting new customers – and are its customers increasingly satisfied with their experiences, across a range of touch-points (and are they changing their buying-behaviours accordingly)? Is time-to-market for new products accelerating? Are new revenue streams coming in to play from digital products and services?


Such business-based metrics will be vital in justifying current and future investments to the CEO and the board – and providing necessary insights into areas that need greater focus. The business will look to the CIO to paint this overall picture and successfully articulate the value of company-wide digital transformation initiatives.


Connected CIO visual 1.png


Here’s, then, to the transformative CIO: truly an ‘MVP’ to the whole business, whose mission encompasses nurturing talent, fostering innovation, bringing on new sources of revenue and building the platforms that energise customers both inside and outside the organisation. The CIO is a lynchpin for us all.

By Jeff Clarke, Vice Chairman of Products and Operations for Dell Technologies


It’s that time of year – our planet has made its trip around the sun and as we close out 2018, we look ahead and think about the possibilities for 2019. And we’re closing in on the next decade of innovation that takes us into 2030, where we at Dell Technologies predict we’ll realise the next era of human-machine partnerships – where we will be immersed in smart living, intelligent work, and a frictionless economy.


We made some bold predictions last year – some coming to fruition a bit faster than others…there’s still much to do in advancing artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies, and autonomous systems are continuing to take shape as organisations build the digital backbone to support them.


So what’s in store for 2019? Read on to see our top predictions for 2019 as we enter the data-driven digital ecosystem.


We’ll be more immersed than ever in work and life


Virtual assistants continue to be pervasive in consumer technology – smart home technologies, “things” and connected cars – learning your preferences and proactively serving up content and information based on previous interactions. We’ll see this machine intelligence merge with augmented and virtual reality in the home to create truly immersive experiences – like a virtual sous chef that can help you whip up an easy meal for the family. And you’ll be more connected to your personal health with even more intelligent wellness tracking devices that can capture more information about the body, like heart rate variability (HRV), sleep patterns and more that you can easily share with health care providers for better care.


Immersive intelligence will also follow us to work. Our PCs and devices we use every day will continue to learn from our habits and proactively boot up with the right apps and services at the right time. Advances in natural language processing and voice technologies will create a more productive dialogue with machines, while automation and robotics will create faster, more fluid collaboration with technology to get more done. And, with augmented and virtual reality applications creating on- and off-site immersive experiences – people will have access to the data they need to do work whenever, wherever they are.


Data gold mine will spark next “Gold Rush” in tech investments


Organisations have been stockpiling big data for years. In fact, it’s predicted that by 2020, the data volume will reach 44 Trillion gigabytes or 44 Zettabytes. That’s a lot of data. Soon they’ll finally put it to work as digital transformation takes shape.


As they derive more value from that data – with insights driving new innovations and more efficient business processes – more investments will be born out of the technology sector. New startups will emerge to tackle the bigger challenges that make AI a reality: data management and federated analytics where insights can be driven from virtually everywhere, and data compliance solutions for a safer, smarter way to deliver amazing outcomes.


5G will have us livin’ on the edge


The first 5G devices are slated to hit the market sometime next year with the much-anticipated next-generation network that promises to completely change the data game in terms of speed and accessibility. Low-latency, high-bandwidth networks mean more connected things, cars and systems – and a boat load of AI, Machine Learning and Compute happening at the edge, because that’s where all the data will be generated.


It won’t be long before we begin to see micro-hubs lining our streets – mini datacenters if you will – that will also give rise to new “smart” opportunities for real-time insights happening on the corner of your street.


Cities and towns will become more connected than ever, paving the way for smart cities and digital infrastructure that we predict will be thriving in 2030. And it’ll be a game changer for industries like healthcare or manufacturing, where data and information being generated out in the field can be quickly processed and analysed in real time – versus having to travel back and forth to a cloud – and then readily shared with those who need it.


Data forecast will call for more clouds


Last year we predicted the arrival of the Mega Cloud – a variety of clouds that make up a powerhouse operating model as IT strategies require both public and private clouds. So far that’s holding true. The public vs. private cloud debate will continue to wane as organisations realise that they need to effectively manage all the different types of data they’ll be processing. A recent IDC survey pointed to more than 80% of respondents repatriating data back to on-premise private clouds – and we can expect that trend to continue, even with projections for public cloud growth.


Multi-cloud environments will drive automation, AI and ML processing into high gear because they give organisations the ability to manage, move and process data where and when they need to. In fact, we’ll see more clouds pop up as data becomes increasingly distributed – at the edge in autonomous car environments or in smart factories, in cloud-native apps, in protected on-prem centers to meet a host of new compliance and privacy standards and of course, the public cloud for a variety of apps and services that we use every day.


Move over Millennials, Gen Z will clock into the workplace


Millennials are going to have to make room for the next generation with Gen Z (born after 1995) badging into the workplace over the next year – creating an increasingly diverse workforce spanning five generations! This will create a rich range of experiences in life and technology. 98% of Gen Z will have used technology as part of their formal education, many already understand the basics of software coding and expect only the best technology to be a part of their work experience.


Gen Z will spark a new evolution in technology innovation for the workplace and create more opportunities for technology literacy and on-site learning for new skills with older generations of workers. AR and VR will become increasingly commonplace and close the skills gap across an aging workforce – while giving Gen Z the speed and productivity they demand.


No more weak links or waste: Supply chains will get stronger, smarter and greener


Believing in the many advantages to running a sustainable business, organisations will follow our lead and begin to accelerate ways to design waste out of their business models through new innovation in recycling and closed loop practices. To help, we at Dell are sharing our blueprint for turning ocean bound plastics into recycled packaging and turning soot from diesel generator exhaust fumes into ink for printing on boxes.



We’ll see advances in supply chain traceability, by scrutinising and harnessing emerging technologies to identify precise opportunities to course correct. Blockchain will likely play a role as well, to ensure trust and safety in sourcing, while also securing information and data about goods and services along the way.


There’s never been a better time for technology – with innovation in 5G, AI and Machine Learning, cloud and blockchain throttling full steam ahead. I’m willing to bet that we’ll make great use of those 44 zettabytes of data in 2020. We’ll unlock the power of data in ways never imagined before, transforming everyday business and everyday life. So buckle up – we’re riding full speed into the Data Era – and 2019 is going to be one heck of a year.

By Angel Grant, Director, RSA Identity and RSA Fraud & Risk Intelligence

 

During the holiday shopping season, you aren’t the only one running around with an agenda. For cybercriminals, this is their peak season too. Criminals will deploy more attacks as they try to increase their inventory of stolen credentials and many will try executing fraudulent transactions with the information they’ve acquired over the past 12 months.


Today, hacking is more than just cybercrime – it is big business.


While the tactics being deployed by cybercriminals vary, many have certainly become common: phishing, ransomware and malware. With stronger security practices and education, many business leaders and consumers alike understand how these schemes work to fool you into clicking an errant link or attachment. But what’s not seen at the surface is the deep interworking of a cybercrime market.


Whether on the Dark Web or even in criminal marketplaces hosted by Facebook, Instagram, Reddit and other popular social media platforms, there are a variety of groups that are being run as functioning companies. Each organisation has a “boss” along with technical and operational employees. Let’s look at what role each plays in this ecosystem:


  • “The Boss”: These are the gang leaders. They may have an association with a criminal network and because they are typically not technical individuals, they hire experts who can help them carry out fraud.
  • Technical: You can think of these individuals as the ones often (stereotypically) depicted in a black hooded sweater. They’re responsible for creating the malware, designing tools for carding and phishing kits and develop the infrastructure that will carry out the attacks.
  • Operational: This role can take many forms, but is an integral piece in the cybercriminal operation:


    • Fraudster/marketing: They create and deploy social engineering schemes – phishing, scam ploys – for all purposes, with the intent of getting someone to click and open the malicious software onto their device.
    • Trader/Sales: They are buying, trading and selling stolen account credentials, financial information and personally identifiable information (PII) on underground marketplaces, or even on social media, with other cybercrime organisations.
    • Forgers: They develop fake documentation, false licenses and/or passports and even fabricate payment cards for the purpose of payment card cloning.
    • Servicemen (mules): As the name indicates, these are the labourers who are doing a majority of the “dirty work” like attempting fraudulent transactions or in-store pickups.
    • Mule-herders/HR: These folks are the Sales and HR arm of the organisation. They’re recruiting mules and organising item drops and offer transfer and exchange options.

 

With an organisation this established, it would seem that the business of cybercrime would be better understood. However, a majority of this criminal activity is taking place in domains that aren’t utilised by the average Jane or Joe. They’re communicating and transacting on the Dark Web, which is the fringe of the internet that most don’t encounter every day. Activities are hosted on the TOR network or similarly encrypted networks where you need to know someone before being invited to join – somewhat like an organisation’s VPN or shared network.


However, the RSA Anti-Fraud Command Center is increasingly seeing growing use of an emerging “Grey Web,” which leverages a wide range of social media platforms. Many of the marketplaces on the Dark Web have become too competitive, leading criminal organisations to turn to other avenues of merchandising their goods and services to a larger audience. Underlying this is the fact that social media is innately mobile and can be used across an array of devices, making it more convenient for fraudsters to communicate with one another and conduct business. The platforms being exploited most for this nefarious activity include Snapchat, WhatsApp, Telegram, Instagram and Facebook.


While it may seem that the odds are stacked against us, there are steps you can encourage your customers and your employees to take to protect their digital presence, including:


  • Monitor your accounts: Activate fraud alerts like new payee, money withdrawal, high-value credit card transaction, insurance claim submitted, use of hospitality loyalty points, etc.
  • Take advantage of multi-factor authentication (MFA): Whether selfie pay, biometrics, or one-time password, utilise a platform’s native MFA capabilities as they’re harder to hack.
  • Take inventory of all connected devices: We now live in a connected world and need to adapt to it. When receiving a new device, start by changing the default username and passwords, installing security updates and turning off the device when not in use.
  • Resist the click: This evergreen advice never gets old. Whether a text, email or social media promotion, avoid clicking on something from a sender you don’t know.
  • Back it up: Many phishing attempts are now linked to ransomware. That is why it is especially important to back up data offline.
  • Beware of work-at-home scams: Around the holiday season, many criminal networks will scam innocent victims by having them reship packages or receive funds in their bank account. If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.


To get a full view of all the cybercrime trends observed by RSA, download the Q3 2018 Quarterly Fraud Report here.

By Angela Fox, Managing Director, Commercial and Public Sector, Dell EMC ANZ

 

With Gen Z (born in the mid-’90s or later) poised to enter the workforce, the industry has been awash with predictions of a generational divide: seasoned professionals overthrown by a new generation of digital natives.


However, Dell Technologies commissioned research with 12,000 young people (ages 16 - 23 from across the globe) including 723 individuals from Australia and New Zealand aged between, paints a more positive picture – in which different generations of workers come together for the collective good.


They Will Share Knowledge Across Generations


According to the research released this month, 85% of young respondents are willing to mentor older co-workers in tech (debunking the “them” and “us” mentality).


Conversely, with 50% of young people more confident in their tech skills than their non-tech attributes, young professionals will be looking to mature colleagues/superiors for guidance and coaching in business. “Mentor and be mentored” is their prevailing attitude.


They Will Raise the Bar on IT Skills in the Workplace


With their advanced digital skills (honed since infancy, finessed at school), Gen Z’s entry into the workplace is expected to fuel a fresh round of innovation - and to set the bar high for everyone else. After all, 68% of respondents say they already know how to code and 81% can think and express solutions in ways that computers can understand.


Like many Gen Zers, Alison Chia, a 23-year-old Bachelor of Business Management in Singapore, is both responding to, and driving, this insatiable demand for workers to show they can use and learn the plethora of emerging technologies flooding the workplace. "As someone about to enter the workforce, companies with great technology certainly appeal to me... My ideal workplace would be one where I can still gain the network, skills and knowledge, enabled by technology,” she noted.


They Will Harness Technology for Good


Evidently, Gen Z’s digital skills have opened their eyes to technology’s immense potential for good. Many Gen Zers aspire to build their careers on technology to advance human progress.


32% of young people aspire to be involved in technology research and development, 41% want to harness technology to help others and/or the environment, and 73% see technology’s potential to create a more equitable work environment (i.e., by preventing bias and discrimination). No doubt their digital vision, grounded in a deep understanding of tech’s potential, will unlock exciting new possibilities and fulfilment in their lives, as well as the workplace.


They Will Surpass our Limits


For many members of Gen Z, technology has flung open the door to a new world of possibility. For instance, Martha Chumo, a self-taught programmer who set-up a hacker school for girls in her hometown of Nairobi in 2013 (at the tender age of 19) after being denied a visa to attend Hacker School in New York, told CNN, “[In programming] you get to do something new and not use the same old technology forever - that’s the fun part, and also being able to build anything that you can think of.” Chumo is now pursuing business studies in London.


We can see the same formidable passion and commitment to pushing the envelope in Gen Z’s work motivations today. According to our research, what Gen Z desires most from work - beyond a good salary - is the ability to learn new skills and have new experiences.


Kenlynn Yeo, a 22-year-old accounting minor in Singapore shares this zeal and determination. “A friendly workplace with access to great technology is definitely a draw for me. While I’m confident of interacting with technology at work, I’m also interested to gain more knowledge and experience as I think that employers value those factors in candidates too.”


In time, Gen Z’s empowerment, through technology, will bleed into the wider workforce. We’re already seeing seasoned workers take steps to improve their company’s and personal digital readiness. Our Realizing 2030 research indicates that 38% of business leaders aged 45 - 54 years-old are gradually embracing digital transformation as they cautiously plan and invest for the future. This will escalate as a new wave of young, tech-savvy visionaries enters the workforce.


Placing Unity First


Of course, businesses will need to be prepared, by having the technology and opportunities in place to adequately captivate and sustain new talent, while uniting different generations of workers. But if they successfully harness the power of technology and the strengths of a multigenerational workforce, they will thrive in the digital era.

Almost a third of Australian and New Zealand business leaders believe they’ll struggle to meet changing customer demands within five years. Yet, 45 per cent of Australian and New Zealand heads of business believe they’ll disrupt rather than be disrupted - according to the Dell Technologies Digital Transformation Index (the DT Index).


The DT Index, which was completed in collaboration with Intel, maps digital transformation progress of mid to large-sized companies and examines the digital hopes and fears of business leaders. The study reveals that 4.5 per cent of Australian and New Zealand businesses are Digital Leaders, 30 per cent of Australian and New Zealand heads of business believe their organisation will struggle to meet changing customer demands within just five years and 22 per cent of Australian and New Zealand business fear they’ll be left behind.

 

The DT Index’s calculations are based on companies’ perceived performance in the following areas: delivering against the core attributes of a digital business**, their existing IT strategy, workforce transformation strategy and planned investments.

 

Two years after the DT Index’s initial launch in 2016, Dell Technologies and Intel have more than doubled the scope of the research, from 16 countries to 42 and benchmarked 4,600 businesses, using the following groupings:


Benchmark
Groups
Description

2018 ANZ

analysis

2018 Australian
analysis

2018 New Zealand

analysis

Digital LeadersDigital transformation, in its various forms,
is ingrained in the DNA of the business
4.5%7%2%
Digital AdoptersHave a mature digital plan,
investments and innovations in place
18%19%17%
Digital EvaluatorsCautiously and gradually embracing digital transformation; planning and investing for the future38%43%33%
Digital FollowersVery few digital investments;
tentatively starting to plan for the future
30%28%32%
Digital LaggardsDo not have a digital plan, limited initiatives
and investments in place
9.5%3%16%

 

The Digital Transformation Index also reveals that too many companies are coasting in the middle group or stuck in the bottom two groups, meaning they’re either moving too slowly or don’t even have a digital plan in place.

 

Barriers to digital transformation


According to the research, 93 per cent of Australian and New Zealand businesses are facing major impediments to digital transformation today.

 

The top five barriers to digital transformation for Australia and New Zealand are:

  1. Lack of budget and resources (36%)
  2. Data privacy and cybersecurity concerns (34.5%)
  3. Immature digital culture: lack of alignment and collaboration across the company (31.5%)
  4. Information overload (29%)
  5. Lack of the right in-house skill sets and expertise (27.5%)

 

These barriers are hampering digital transformation efforts. For instance, 78 per cent of Australian and New Zealand business leaders believe that digital transformation should be more widespread throughout the organisation. Only 14 per cent of Australian and New Zealand businesses strongly agree they’ll disrupt rather than being disrupted within five years.

 

“We’ve talked about being on the cusp of tremendous change for some time now. That’s no longer the case,” said Mark Fioretto, Managing Director, Enterprise, Dell EMC, ANZ. “The next digital era has arrived and it’s reshaping the way we live, work and conduct business. Which means that time is of the essence. Genuine transformation needs to happen now, and it needs to be radical.”

 

Conquering their challenges

 

The research indicates that businesses are taking steps to overcome their barriers and the threat of being outmaneuvered by more nimble, innovative players. Although progress in these areas is patchy, even between Australian and New Zealand businesses:

 

  • 40% of Australian and 36% of New Zealand businesses are embracing agile software development (allowing them to code and securely launch new applications within much shorter cycles)
  • 50% of Australian and 41% of New Zealand businesses are building security and privacy into all devices, applications and algorithms
  • Both countries have acknowledged a skills gap with 43% of Australian and 40% of New Zealand businesses striving to develop the right skills sets and expertise in-house, such as teaching staff how to code
  • 62% of Australian businesses are sharing knowledge across functions, by equipping IT leaders with business skills and business leaders with IT skills, compared to 43% of New Zealand businesses

 

Companies are also turning to emerging technologies and cybersecurity to power (and secure) their transformation.

 

Nine in 10 Australian and New Zealand businesses intend to invest in technology initiatives that enable digital business transformation. Planned investments within the next one to three years are:

  • 53% of Australian and New Zealand businesses intend to invest in cybersecurity
  • 42.5% of Australian and New Zealand businesses intend to invest in multi-cloud
  • 48% of Australian and New Zealand businesses intend to invest in IoT technologies
  • 40% of Australian and New Zealand businesses intend to invest in Artificial Intelligence
  • 37% of Australian and New Zealand businesses intend to invest in Flash

 

A small but significant number of businesses are even planning to experiment with nascent technologies. 19 per cent of Australian and New Zealand businesses will be investing in blockchain, 14.5 per cent in quantum computing and 27 per cent in VR/AR.

 

“It’s an exciting time to be in business. We’re at a crucial intersection – where technology, business and mankind meet to create a better, more connected world,” added Fioretto. “However, only technology-centred organisations will reap the rewards offered by a digital business model, including the ability to move quickly, to automate everything and to delight customers. This is why digital transformation needs to be a number one priority.”

 

Research methodology

 

This winter, independent research company, Vanson Bourne surveyed 200 business leaders across Australia and New Zealand from mid- to large-size companies to gauge their organisations’ place on the Dell Technologies Digital Transformation Index. Vanson Bourne classified businesses’ digital business efforts by examining their IT strategy, workforce transformation initiatives and perceived performance against a core set of digital business attributes. The global results (based on 4,600 respondents from 42 countries) will be released in early 2019.

 

Attributes of a digital business

**In 2015, business leaders defined a core set of digital attributes businesses must embrace to succeed over the next decade. These are:

  • Innovate in agile ways
  • Predictively spot new opportunities
  • Demonstrate transparency and trust
  • Deliver unique and personalised experiences
  • Always on, operate in real time

Angela Fox, General Manager, Commercial and Public Sector, Dell EMC ANZ


Under-representation of women in business today is a missed opportunity – not just from a moral standpoint but also from an economic one. Statistics show us that women represent the largest market opportunity, controlling $20 trillion in annual spending. Twelve trillion could be added to the global GDP by 2025 by advancing women’s equality and it is a known fact that when women earn an income they reinvest 90 per cent of that income back into their families and communities.


“The Capitalists” winning group of the Dell Policy Hack hosted in Sydney.


So why do most women entrepreneurs still lack access to the resources – capital, networks, talent and technology – needed to take their businesses to the next level? Dell has been investing in research to better understand the obstacles women face in growing their business.


Our WE Cities research assess and compares 50 cities around the world on their ability to foster high-potential women entrepreneurs. Sydney ranked 11th out of 50 cities and does particularly well on policies that can help impact a supportive culture for women entrepreneurs, but ranked lower in the areas of access to technology, capital and markets. Adding to this research, at the annual Dell Women Entrepreneurship (DWEN) Summit in July, Dell released the WE Cities city blueprints, which spotlight public policy actions a city can take to improve the local ecosystem for women entrepreneurs.


We’re turning analysis into action by leveraging this research in local markets to improve the ecosystem for women entrepreneurs. Since July, we have taken this research on the road, with events in Boston, Mexico City and Sao Paulo and earlier this week Sarah Calder, Senior Manager, Consumer & Small Business at Dell ANZ and I hosted a Dell PolicyHack during the Spark Festival in Sydney.


The PolicyHack brought together entrepreneurs, policymakers and other stakeholders to hack policy solutions to some of the challenges of women entrepreneurs in Sydney and the event was a great success. Working together on small teams, these entrepreneurs and policymakers had 75 minutes to develop a policy solution around the recommendations in the WE Cities Sydney blueprint.

 

The teams then had five minutes to pitch their public policy solution to a panel of judges which included: Ben Jackson, General Manager, Consumer and Small Business, Dell ANZ; Roz Gregory, Director, Customer Success and Digital Transformation APJ, Pivotal Labs; Susie Gemmell, Sydney School of Entrepreneurship; Wendy Simpson, entrepreneur and business leader; and myself.


The judges of the Dell Policy Hack hosted in Sydney.


It was a privilege to be a judge with these esteemed individuals and I was extremely impressed with each team and their recommendations. Determining a winner was not an easy task!


After much debate, we made a tough decision and our winners were “The Capitalists,” a group comprising Jacqui Walshe, Mariam Mohammed and Andrew Asfaganov. They were tasked with thinking about how the public and private sector could promote better access to capital and their solution proposed an anonymised pitching process for venture capitalists that aimed to remove unconscious bias for women seeking funding. This process would be incentivised for businesses and work to prevent gender bias against female entrepreneurs. This team now has the commitment from Dell to work with Sydney policymakers to make this great solution a reality.


I am proud of Dell’s commitment to women and the ways we are investing in our own culture and our communities to advocate for women. The research continues to show that when you support women there are far-reaching benefits to our global community and the global economy so our team looks forward to continuing to work with policymakers to improve the ecosystem for women entrepreneurs.

By Stephanie Walden, Contributor


Quantified self-assessment auditor. Cryptocurrency wealth management agent. Robotic tele-surgery technician.


You probably won’t see roles like these posted on mainstream job boards just yet. But within the next decade, we’ll likely hear titles like “augmented reality architect” casually tossed around at high school reunions.


Today’s teenagers and college students - those born in the mid-1990s through the early 2000s, collectively referred to as Generation Z - will lead the charge when it comes to forging futuristic career paths. In a world powered by human-machine partnerships, Gen Z will one day be the bulk of the human component. Although post-millennials made up just 5 per cent of the U.S. workforce in 2017, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data, they’re predicted to constitute about 20 per cent of the workforce as soon as 2020.


This cohort has gone through adolescence inundated with smart devices and AI algorithms and their comfort level with technology will prove advantageous as they begin to enter the job market. It’s impossible to predict what, exactly, this evolving career landscape will look like as emerging technologies reconfigure some industries and establish entirely new ones.


But as innovations like artificial intelligence, machine learning and blockchain become embedded within office IT and central to consumer services, students, educators and employers alike are contemplating how to prepare for a brave new workforce.


Old-school Education, New Outlook


Today’s education system is entrenched in scores-based performance measuring and standardised testing. That’s why Adam Garry, the Director of Education Strategy at Dell Technologies, works with K-12 schools to improve not just what kids learn, but also how they absorb information. This includes promoting critical thinking and problem-solving skills.


With the reality that 85 per cent of jobs that will exist in 2030 haven’t yet been created, these types of skills will be invaluable assets for career adaptability. Yet, throwing the old-school textbook out the window isn’t necessarily the solution, says Garry. He suggests a better way to set kids up for success is to focus on comprehensive skill sets instead of test scores.


“Of course, there has to be a knowledge-base; you can’t think critically about nothing,” he says. “But as of late, we’ve started to focus more on what we call the disposition, which is more about the culture of learning.” Garry explains that the core elements that makeup disposition - things like resilience and grit - are skills often coveted by hiring managers.


“We’ve started to focus more on what we call the disposition, which is more about the culture of learning.”

— Adam Garry, Director of Education Strategy, Dell Technologies


Garry believes these credentials that go beyond grades will also be important in the hiring landscape of the future. “I think K-12 institutions could really expand upon the picture that they allow a student to leave the system with,” he says. For example, if a kid is an incredible guitarist or an expert e-sports gamer, that should be quantifiable and highlighted on a resume.


A skills-based approach may also impact how students complete higher ed. Garry thinks that kids may one day be more fluid in the education system, going to university for a couple of years to learn in chunks, entering the workforce to practice skills in action and then returning to school later to fill in the gaps.


As debates about the rising cost of higher education and the ultimate value of a four-year degree continue to brew, Gen Z students face complex decisions about their paths after high school.


Tara Subramaniam, a junior in college, says that she deliberated her higher-ed options carefully: Alongside traditional four-year universities, she also considered an edgier educational experience like the Minerva program through Keck Graduate Institute. At Minerva, students complete studies in applied sciences and/or liberal arts in cities all over the world. The program eschews linear learning for broad knowledge, practical skills and intellectual development across multiple disciplines.


Ultimately, Subramaniam ended up at Georgetown University, where she’s now working toward a degree in International Politics and Economics. But, she notes, she’s found ways to explore passion projects to get the “non-traditional” experience in other ways, such as through her work as founder of Student Voice, a student-run nonprofit catalysing education equity and by studying abroad in Shanghai, where she’s currently finishing out the semester.


“What I’ve learned from my experience is that it’s less about the actual structure of the program and more about what you do with it. It’s more about what you want to get out of your education and whether or not you put in the effort to achieve that - whatever setting you’re in,” she says. “In my opinion, I’ve gotten the best of both worlds.”


Learning How to Learn


While reimagining education to adopt more of a disposition- or credentials-based approach may sound intuitive, it’s also a process tightly bound in red tape. Unless the U.S. education system undergoes significant reform, at least part of the onus will be on students to hone practical skills, such as coding and familiarity with emerging technologies like blockchain.


Luckily, technology is making it easier for kids to develop these skills. Learning doesn’t have to mean poring over dry, dense material. It might, for instance, be rooted in something that Gen Z students are already intimately acquainted with: gaming.


“This generation has probably logged more computer game hours than any previous generation,” says John Kolb, the Vice President for Information Services and Technology and Chief Information Officer at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). According to 2017 Nielsen data, almost three-quarters (73 per cent) of people aged 2 to 20 have video game consoles.


“That may be a hint to how we do workforce development, workforce training and other [career-related] things going forward,” Kolb reinforces. “That may be a piece of the secret sauce: How do you combine those two elements?”


“This generation has probably logged more computer game hours than any previous generation. That may be a hint to how we do workforce development, workforce training and other [career-related] things going forward.”

— John Kolb, Chief Information Officer, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

 

Resources that range from language-learning platforms to coding communities are already employing gamification as a tool to retain information. And in the workplace, gamified training programs are seeing early successes: One 2017 National Institute for Health study found that nursing administrators displayed higher rates of knowledge retention when they went through a gamified orientation process versus traditional classroom lectures.


Online courses, too, will prove useful aids for modular self-education. There is no shortage of digital resources for students to explore in this space, from online schools like Code Academy to comprehensive learning communities like Khan Academy and Coursera.


"Technology is advancing so rapidly that there is no one college program that can teach everything,” says Kapeesh Saraf, head of growth and director of product at Coursera, who stresses that workers will need to constantly familiarise themselves with new technologies that range from AI to project management. “Educational resources such as MOOCs [Massive Open Online Courses], designed to be flexible and affordable, will be an increasingly important part of how Gen Z remains effective and impactful in their jobs.”


Certain skill sets, adds Saraf, will be crucial in the future workforce. He lists statistics and data science, design thinking and problem-solving and mastering the art of “learning how to learn,” to name a few. Kolb adds a couple of items, including a strong math background and highly-developed communications skills. Today, some of the world’s largest technology companies are putting emphasis on intangibles like curiosity, empathy, emotional intelligence and the ability to communicate.


“You need to be able to help other people understand what you’re doing and explain it both in verbal and written form, no matter what profession you’re in,” Kolb says. “If the engineers don’t know how to communicate what they’re up to, they’re going to have a tough time.”


Data Dexterity


Educational institutions are taking steps to prepare students for an unpredictable future, too. At some schools, undergraduate data science courses are becoming mandatory. Curriculums like those found in the data dexterity program at RPI - the first of its kind in the country to become an undergrad requirement - are helping students hone analytical skills. It’s a foresighted move: In a joint report from Business Higher Education Forum and PwC, experts predict that there will be more than 2.7 million annual job openings for data science roles by 2020.


Sarah McRae and Halley Fede are two students involved with the Data INCITE program at RPI, where they’ve worked on projects such as optimising microchip production, parsing and analysing tourism data and experimenting with “phytoremediation” (the use of plants to filter air). Fede notes one project in which she and her classmates installed a “living wall” made of plants to gain insight into microbiomes using data analytics techniques.


“The project enabled me to develop and apply my technical skills toward an important cause,” says Fede. “I quickly learned the difference between writing code for class and [creating] code that other people will actually use.”


McRae has also interned at the Data INCITE lab, where she says she’s had the freedom to experiment with data in a more autonomous manner. “I wasn’t in class being handed an assignment with specific instructions; I was given a set of data and some very broad guidelines, but other than that I had almost free reign. It gave me a chance to be creative and explore the data in my own way,” she says.


Elliot Hill, a student currently obtaining his Master’s degree in Business Analytics at RPI, says that a holistic approach to skills development has helped prepare him for his first foray into the world of full-time employment. Hill, who also received his undergraduate degree in mathematics from RPI, already has a post-grad job lined up at Deloitte.


“In every class, we use a different application, a different technology, a different programming language and they all kind of tie in together,” he says. “There isn’t one technology or one solution that is going to be useful in the next 10 years, because it’s such an evolving landscape.”


“There isn’t one technology or one solution that is going to be useful in the next 10 years, because it’s such an evolving landscape.”

— Elliot Hill, Graduate Student, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

 

“The New Collar Workforce,” a study led by Sarah Boisvert, founder of the Fab Lab Hub (part of MIT’s Fab Lab Network) touts the benefits of peer-to-peer experimentation in “maker spaces” as a way to gain first-hand knowledge of disruptive technologies. Boisvert also builds a case for digital apprenticeships, which may start as early as high school and which often last for at least a year. This model - not to be confused with internships, which tend to be shorter-lived, less intense and supplemental to a college degree - supports skills-building and establishes practical industry experience.


A Faster Feedback Loop


Hands-on experiences are helping students master important concepts in the classroom - but their education won’t end when they’re handed their diplomas. Companies that hope to stay relevant in 2030 and beyond will need to re-think status-quo learning and development methodologies.


Virtual reality and immersive training is a promising tactic for some employers. Kolb references RPI departments like Game Simulation Arts and Sciences, or the Cognitive and Immersive Systems lab, in which students enter a Situation Room to gain experience with a variety of scenarios.


“We make up different educational situations. They could be [related to] healthcare, they could be about business mergers and acquisitions,” says Kolb. “It’s immersive not only in the output to humans but also the input from humans,” he says, explaining that the programs store and adapt to data generated by learners. In one current experiment, students learn Mandarin Chinese by entering a virtual restaurant, where a program corrects their intonation as they order a meal.


“When you start to use those sophisticated tools in the educational context and in an interactive way, you get a faster feedback loop than with a human and you can get better results,” says Kolb.


Ultimately for employers, one of the biggest challenges will be developing a framework that’s nimble enough to adapt to an as-of-yet-undefined technology ecosystem. Saraf suggests employers investigate methodologies like human-centred design and design thinking as part of their own internal educational process.


Hill believes that there’s still much to learn about the high-level business applications of the material he’s studied in school. He notes that while there’s much excitement about the prospect of using AI or machine learning in a corporate context, many companies still have nebulous plans for deployment.”


These concepts are so deep and they’re very, very technical. Right now, you go into a company and you’re kind of defining your job, you’re defining your role,” he explains. “That’s both exciting and a little bit nerve-wracking. You feel like, ‘Will I ever really be able to learn enough to excel in this area?’ And you don’t quite know. But that’s the motivation for why I’m in it - I absolutely love learning and every single day I want to know more.”

By Todd Pavone, President of Dell EMC Consulting


IT Transformation is hardly a new concept for CIOs and IT leaders. For more than a decade, they have sought to evolve their IT organisations from a support function to a true strategic partner that drives business competitiveness.



Along the way, Dell EMC has been on the front lines of IT Transformation. We partner with IT and business leaders to close their IT Transformation gaps by developing project roadmaps that build infrastructure platforms, optimise application portfolios, and update the operating model, so IT is better positioned for deep collaboration with the business.


We have also heard countless unique perspectives during the hundreds of global IT Transformation Workshops we have hosted over the last 10 years, in which we work closely with CIOs and their teams to analyse 30 areas of transformation.


These workshops have produced rich data sources which lay the foundation for IDG’s illuminating analysis that answered many questions about the state of IT Transformation. What progress has been made by top performers? What are their top priorities? What are the technological and operational challenges? What does good look like?


Please note that this analysis is not a study of random survey participants, but organisations that have asked Dell EMC Consulting and VMware to help them create and execute transformation programs. The results offer a look at the current state of transformation and provide answers to those key questions.


What progress has been made by top performers?


IT Transformation is a top-down initiative that requires full executive and line-of-business support. It’s one of the most important messages we tell our customers, and we’re seeing it resonate. Top performers (those who have achieved the highest current state in the top 20% of all workshop participants) identify top-down leadership as a defining characteristic and are supported by a documented strategy and roadmap for their transformation.


Top performers have also made progress on implementing automation required for IT as a service. They have nearly 100% of their infrastructure virtualised and can provision infrastructure in as little as one day.


What are the top priorities?


Year after year, building a self-service catalogue and portal consistently ranks as the top priority. It is the most visible way that the business experiences the output of the automation and infrastructure efforts implemented by IT.


Beyond a catalogue or portal, IT is accelerating its move to a cloud-based environment. Over the last three years, 84% of companies said they want to use hybrid cloud architectures to support multiple production apps across their environment - a 19% increase during that timeframe. Yet, less than 10% have evaluated their application portfolio for hybrid cloud suitability.


DevOps and continuous deployment - a new topic recently added to the workshops - jumped to the top of the application priorities list.  67% want DevOps to be pervasive within their enterprise in the next 12-18 months. However, most respondents said it takes them more than 6 months to get a new release deployed. IT organisations feel the need to reduce deployment times and are increasingly looking to DevOps in pursuit of those goals.


Network virtualisation is another area that has increased in importance. It is now where most CIOs perceive they have the biggest gap in their infrastructure. They want to be at least 40% virtualised within the next 12-18 months.


Where are key technological and operational challenges?


Successful IT transformation is made up of three key ingredients - people, process, and technology. While technology has its complexities, we’ve observed that organisations frequently find changing the operating model to be the hardest part of IT transformation. Transforming service delivery, changing how infrastructure is deployed and managed, and reworking the IT organisation’s structure are not simple tasks, yet have the CIO’s highest aspirations for the target state.


We’ve seen dramatic interest in customers wanting to implement infrastructure as code (IaC) methodologies and processes to automatically manage and configure infrastructure. So, it’s no surprise that automated change and configuration management is ranked as a top priority by nearly 90% of the workshop participants, while only 5% said that they had achieved it.


Additional priorities identified by 85% or more of IT leaders include the ability to: proactively address capacity and performance issues through alert and automated responses; establish an automated transparent metering system; develop an automated analytics engine to provide heuristics and trending information on all IT services.


Let’s step back and look at the larger picture. Transforming IT is a complex undertaking, but one critical to the business’ ability to remain relevant in a technologically disrupted world. In gaining clarity to the requirements, needs, and priorities of IT Transformation, CIOs and business leaders can better design a strategy that mutually leads both into a more competitive future.


Want to hear more?


Check out InFocus for some insightful blogs from our consultants who execute transformation workshops and help customers implement the recommendations. If you are having trouble with getting and sustaining momentum for a transformation initiative, you’ll want to check out this 3-part blog series on multi-cloud strategy. The first one is Moving to Multi-Cloud: How to Get Stakeholders Aligned.

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