Brazilian organizations advance in digital transformation

Companies are making more efforts around digital but board and staff commitment remains a challenge, says study

Organizations in Brazil are making more efforts towards achieving digital maturity but board and staff commitment to such initiatives is still a challenge, according to a recent study.

The research carried out by IT outsourcer Capgemini and software firm Pegasystems suggests that companies are employing an omnichannel approach to better understand their own market trans and consumer needs: to that end, 63 percent of firms polled use the Internet in a significant way, while 57 percent use social networks and 53 percent use mobile platforms.

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When it comes to the application of digital platforms such as mobile 39 percent of those polled use it to promote products and services, while 29 percent use mobile as a sales platform. For social media, use for promotion is at 46 percent, while 41 percent use it for customer services and 37 percent use it to improve brand reputation.

Big data and analytics also plays a crucial role in improving marketing strategies at Brazilian companies (46 percent) and for price optimisation (44 percent). Data analytics is being used by 36 percent of those polled to personalize communications, while 35 percent use it to qualify sales leads.

Even though digital transformation is becoming less of an utopia in Brazilian organisations, the Capgemini study points out that while firms might have a well-defined strategy in that sense, it is still hard to get commitment from the board to take projects further.

Other limiting factors cited by respondents also included the involvement and commitment of staff in geral to digital transformation projects, as well as being able to "sell" the changes and get people's buy-in.

Separate research from Gartner paints a rather different picture: the analyst's study suggests that Brazilian organizations have focused too much on reducing costs over the last two years and have neglected the need to invest in digital strategies.

According to Gartner's research vice president Cassio Dreyfuss, the economic, political and social challenges faced by companies and government bodies in Brazil have prompted local chief information officers (CIOs) to go back to some old management habits.

"Hardware, software and services in Brazil were always more expensive in Brazil and for a long time things were just not available - so the successful CIO here has been the techie that can put ancient pieces of equipment together and get them to work," Dreyfuss told the press at the analyst's annual symposium in São Paulo today.

"These leaders focused on infrastructure and operations - and on bringing cost efficiency to those areas - are now perplexed and don't quite know what to do as optimizing spending is still important but there are other things to think about - and digital is now a priority," the analyst adds.

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The Gartner analyst adds that he does not share the view that Brazilian companies are ahead of the curve in terms of innovation at present and budgets for new initiatives have been consistently decreasing since 2014.

"Our crusade is to bring awareness to CIOs and get them to realize that companies overseas will not sit, wait and think that those poor Brazilians are undergoing a bad moment. They will just sprint ahead," Dreyfuss says.

"So while these organizations are dealing with a complex situation they also have to respond to the challenge of global competition," he adds.

However, Dreyfuss points out that there are opportunities, but reinforces that a mindset shift is required.

"What Brazilians have as an advantage is their capacity to be creative and innovative as we have seen in global references such as our tax assessment systems, digital elections and our financial services industry, which is one of the most advanced in the world," the analyst says.

"So we have plenty of transformation examples and talent - we just have to leverage on that," he concluded.

The Capgemini study covered 150 C-level respondents from organizations from the consumer goods, retail, insurance and banking sectors.

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