UK has 'head in the sand' on digital transformation, says Dell EMC UK SVP

Dayne Turbitt, senior vice president UK and Ireland at Dell EMC UK
Dayne Turbitt, senior vice president UK and Ireland at Dell EMC UK

Latest research from Dell Technologies shows a UK business ecosystem that is unafraid of digital disruption, should they be?

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UK businesses have their "heads in the sand" when it comes to digital transformation according to Dayne Turbitt, senior vice president UK and Ireland at Dell EMC UK.

This follows the vendor's initial findings from its second annual 'digital transformation index', which showed that only 27 percent of UK respondents believed that they will be disrupted and 22 percent of respondents believed that their business will become obsolete in five years.

"So in the UK there is this sense of confidence, or overconfidence," as Turbitt put it while addressing a media roundtable as part of the Dell Technologies Forum in London yesterday.

Compare this to what Turbitt hears from his own customers, which are primarily large UK banks, who are actively looking at partnership and acquisition opportunities in the fintech space.

"If I look at someone like Royal Bank of Scotland or HSBC or Barclays, all of them have digital incubation agendas around how they are capturing this young up and coming fintech space and how they are leveraging it through acquisitions and partnerships," he said.

"We feel more should be worried," Claire Vyvyan, SVP commercial at Dell EMC UK and Ireland added.

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As Dell customer John Allert, chief marketing officer at McLaren Group, put it: "Digital transformation is like talking about life, we talk about agility and outcomes. If you are talking about digital transformation as a noun not a verb you are missing the point."

"I fear for UK industry as well looking at some of that, I don't think it is preparedness, it's ignorance," he bluntly added.

The research

Conducted over the summer by research company Vanson Bourne, 150 business leaders from a cross section of mid- to enterprise-sized companies in the UK were asked for their thoughts on the buzzword of the day: digital transformation.

By way of definition of 'digital transformation' the index sets out to find out how far along organisations are in adopting digital business models, what success looks like and what the top barriers, priorities and plans are across that base.

The index itself categorises customers from digital laggard to digital leader, and the distribution in the UK has shifted somewhat dramatically.

The number of digital laggards dropped from 20 percent to just three percent. This could signal a shift from "evaluators to adopters" as Turbitt suggested, or there is a more Darwinian extinction of laggards happening, as Allert from McLaren posited.

While the number of leaders has only changed by a single percentage point, up from four to five percent, digital followers has dropped from 41 percent to 33 percent. What this says for Turbitt is that "the message has been digested now and companies know what is possible and need to think about how I implement".

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Other top-line results included the main barriers to digital transformation, with 91 percent citing "major impediments to digital transformation today".

The top five barriers outlined are:

1. Lack of budget and resources

2. Data privacy and cybersecurity concerns

3. Lack of the right in-house skill sets and expertise

4. Regulation or legislative changes

5. Information overload

Lastly, investment priorities were outlined as: cyber security (58 percent), multi-cloud environments (50 percent), AI (37 percent) and IoT (35 percent) coming out on top for the next one to three years.

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