man standing up, smoking a pipe with a newspaper under his arm
PHOTO: Joel Barwick

Digitally maturing companies are far more innovative than their less mature — or even traditional — competitors. They also invest more in innovation. And once the digital transformation ball starts rolling, there is no stopping it as these digitally mature companies are also the ones most likely to introduce digital innovations.

These findings are just a few of the many in MIT SMR and Deloitte's 2019 Digital Business Report: Accelerating Digital Innovation Inside and Out. It's the fifth annual report in this series and the result of a global survey of more than 4,800 managers, executives and analysts, which includes 14 interviews with executives and thought leaders.

The report includes a number of telling conclusions, such as: “Ecosystems and cross-functional teams allow them to be agile, but this increased agility demands a thorough consideration of governance as well.” This in itself is a striking suggestion as it indicates that digital companies are the most agile, even if it warns that all involved need to pay attention to governance.

However, the most important finding is the increasing signs of separation between more and less digitally mature organizations and that this is, at least partly, explained by the organization’s approach to digital transformation. “Digitally maturing companies are not only innovating more, they’re innovating differently,” according to the report.

While this enables the emergence of agile business models, company’s innovation efforts can often outpace its governance policies. It is particularly important, then, that these organizations have strong policies in place regarding the ethics of digital business. Other findings worth noting:

  • Digitally mature companies allow individual employees more room to innovate.
  • Digitally mature companies are more likely to collaborate with external partners.
  • Cross-functional teams are highly innovative.
  • Digitally mature companies are more agile and innovative.
  • Respondents from agile companies are more likely to be able to manage digital disruption.

The report provides a good litmus test of digital maturity for companies that are well along the digital transformation journey. For those that haven’t taken the digital jump yet, it provides numerous reasons as to why they should.

Microsoft and Oracle Meet in the Cloud, While Google Acquires Looker

Microsoft and Oracle announced a new alliance that will fundamentally alter the cloud wars. The competing cloud companies will now allow users to seamlessly move workloads between the two cloud systems, including an added layer of identity interoperability.

This means that customers of both will be able to migrate and run mission-critical enterprise workloads across Microsoft Azure and Oracle Cloud. Enterprises can now seamlessly connect Azure services, like Analytics and AI, to Oracle Cloud services, like Autonomous Database. Specifically, according to a Microsoft blog, users will be able to:

  • Connect Azure and Oracle Cloud seamlessly, allowing customers to extend their on-premises data centers to both clouds.
  • Offer unified identity and access management, via a unified single sign-on experience and automated user provisioning, to manage resources across Azure and Oracle Cloud. 
  • Provide a collaborative support model to help IT organizations deploy these new capabilities while enabling them to leverage existing customer support relationships and processes.

Meanwhile, Oracle Database will continue to be certified to run in Azure on various operating systems, including Windows Server and Oracle Linux.

You might think this would up the stakes in the intensifying competition for cloud dominance, and you’d be right in thinking so. However, Microsoft and Oracle are not the only players — Google is also upping its game. Google is set to acquire Looker, a unified platform for business intelligence, data applications and embedded analytics, in a $2.6 billion all-cash transaction. Once the deal is closed Looker will join Google Cloud.

According to Google, the addition of Looker to Google Cloud will provide customers with a more comprehensive analytics solution from ingesting and integrating data to gain insights, to embedded analytics and visualizations.

Looker, which was founded in 2012, set out to build a platform for data that easily integrates all of a business's data and then allows it to be melded to specific work processes in a way where users can do more with it, said Frank Bien, CEO of the company, in a blog post.

Not the same technology, but the same intent — offer customers more and better services in the cloud. At the moment Amazon and Microsoft are generally seen as the leaders in the cloud services market. The Oracle partnership will give Microsoft deeper access and an additional offering to existing and future customers. In the end, it’s all good for the users and it is likely there will be more on this front soon.

Track Who Is Using G Suite Apps

There is an old adage that goes "if you don’t know there’s a problem, then you are part of the problem." Apply that to a productivity apps like G Suite and the adage could run "if you don’t know what is happening in your deployment, you have a problem." However it goes, Google has seen that for G Suite admins, not knowing what apps are being used and how they are being used is a problem.

As a result it has pushed Work Insights from beta into general availability and added a few new features to make it more effective.

The first thing to note is that this is only for G Suite Enterprise users and only provides insights for teams of 10 and more. With it, administrators get a bird’s-eye view of the status and impact of G Suite deployment including insights into:

  • Adoption: Which teams are adopting G Suite and which apps are they using most frequently?
  • Work patterns: Which apps teams are spending time in and how much time they’re spending in meetings.
  • Collaboration: How teams are working together through meetings, file sharing and document interactions.
  • Usage of non-G Suite applications: If there are any legacy licenses no longer necessary to renew as users transition to G Suite.
Those non-G Suite applications are interesting too. It shows admins how the following apps are being used:
  • Microsoft Word documents.
  • Microsoft Word macro files.
  • Microsoft Excel spreadsheets.
  • Microsoft Excel macro files.
  • Microsoft PowerPoint presentations.
  • Microsoft PowerPoint macro files.

This means, of course, that for any of those many apps that are not being used, their license can be terminated, saving enterprises a lot of money. The updates should be visible in the next week or so.

Disconnected Workers in the Digital Workplace

There’s more research this week, this time from Instructure, and conducted by The Harris Poll, which shows a significant disconnect between how companies think they are doing when it comes to developing their workforce and the reality of employee needs.

In fact, 70% of US employees say they are at least somewhat likely to leave their current company and accept an offer with a new company that is known for investing in employee learning and development, according to the study.

The national survey (which is not public) of 310 employers and 1,433 full-time employees revealed differing opinions between the two groups shows that:

  1. While 98% of employers say they offer career development tools, only 26% of employees rate their employers' tools as delivering development very well.
  2. While 69% of employers feel career growth is extremely important to retention, a third of employees who have left a job (34%) have done so because they craved more career development opportunities, making it a leading reason why people leave jobs — second only to compensation (46%).
  3. Three in four people (77%) reported that they feel like they are on their own to determine their career development.

The survey dovetails with other research we have seen in recent weeks that shows there is often a difference in perception between how organization leaders see the digital workplace and how workers see it. Is it any surprise, for example, that the recent Workplace by Facebook research shows some major communication challenges between frontline workers and business leaders, which is having a negative impact on productivity.

It's unlikely that these kinds of problems are going to be resolved any time soon. In fact, the complex nature of the problem suggests it is more than likely it will get worse before it gets better.

Docebo 7.7 Improves Enterprise Learning

Elsewhere, Docebo, which develops an enterprise learning platform powered by AI, has upgraded the platform to enable customers to create their very own mobile learning app.

The on-demand app builder provides the app structure, implementation services and 360-degree branding personalization needed to provide learners a continuous, AI-powered social learning experience while maximizing a company’s ability to facilitate learning across multiple channels.

But learning doesn’t stop at the download of an app, it only begins. Docebo is providing both learners and admins with advanced AI-powered enrollment and suggestions. As the content in the platform is constantly expanding, especially with social learning and user-generated content, it’s vital to suggest learning resources that are relevant and personalized to a learner’s required (and desired) learning experience.