Published: November 10th, 2014

AUSTIN, TEX. – An aspect I found interesting from the Dell World 2014 conference was that the company has started referring to itself as a “digital” company.

Suresh Vaswani, the president of Dell Services, told CDN that Dell is now “a digital company.”

I think Dell is using the term “digital” to mean being at the leading edge of business transformation.

One example Dell used was with Zurich Insurance. Dell helped Zurich unveil its own digital services for customers and employees. Zurich’s head of retailing for the U.K., David White, said his company was running legacy apps on dated hardware with the costs were increasing each year, and he could no longer guarantee a return on investment to Zurich’s senior leaders.

Modernization was necessary and White needed to increase IT agility and speed up employee performance, while reducing risk and complexity. He found Dell’s “digital” message intriguing and decided to pursue it over another vendor’s strategy. The digital strategy from Dell aligned to Zurich’s new direction of providing a service oriented experience to its employees and customers.

Vaswani said the digital revolution is not unlike the industrial revolution or the Internet revolution. “This is changing the world with social, mobile, big data and the Internet of Things. Digital will give customers a competitive advantage and digital improves decision making and profitability, while being good for channel partners,” he said.

But going digital is not easy, Vaswani admitted. Gartner vice-president and leading market analyst Tiffany Bova equates going digital to “slaying a dragon.”

For Zurich, it meant a new Web system, new mobile platform built with social media to engage with new customers for 500 staffers across seven locations. White said going digital meant a “real change.” Before Zurich adopted the digital strategy the company worked on 12 month development cycles. With digital, Zurich now works on eight week development cycles. “We now learn to fail fast,” White said.

“Traditionally we developed systems for the staff and later on that was passed on to the customer. With digital, it’s direct to customer and it’s in real time. It’s now a real time discussion,” White added.

One example of this is a new sales pipeline management app that Zurich took just eight weeks to create and deploy. In the first month it was downloaded by more than 500 Zurich agents who can now manage their sales pipeline 24-by-7 in a self-service environment.

“The digital transformation is owned by me now and not IT. It’s an end-to-end environment and it’s only as good as the weakest link. For me, it has to work end-to-end and it needs to be run by the business and not IT,” White said.

He added, the culture has changed inside Zurich and a lot of young people are now working for the multi-national insurance power. White also said being digital has also changed the way the company recruits talent and motivates staff.

“We have not fundamentally changed our structure, but we now have metrics inside the business and it’s about the way we approach it and the speed to market. Digital is very different because it only takes eight weeks for you to become a market leader.”

Two quick hits before I go. In a real change of pace for the CES show this coming January in Las Vegas, Ford Motor Co. CEO Mark Fields has confirmed he will deliver one of the major keyn0te addresses at CES.

Toronto-based management solutions provider Intelex has named Robin Hopper its vice-president of Intelex Cloud.  Hopper will lead the development and amalgamation of Intelex’s app store, social network, client community and learning centre in the new role.