Looking at Forbes’ list The World’s Most Innovative Companies, a common theme can be found amongst the top three rated companies. All of them provide cloud-based enterprise platforms. Based on Sofigate’s podcast series “Reimagine Technology”, there is no coincidence that enterprise platforms are a common denominator for leading CIOs in Sweden. Enterprise platforms are cornerstones in all companies’ technical backbone as they support vital business processes and acts as a hygiene factor for scalability and end-to-end coverage.
Why enterprise platforms?
Several interviewed CIOs highlight the importance of innovation to meet business demands and needs. Enterprise platforms support innovation, but they are also crucial for the core business. Stefan Olowsson, CIO at Försäkringskassan, explains their need of a stable enterprise platform due to the large volume of transactions and insurance money issued yearly. Another company highly dependent on its enterprise platform is Early Bird Morgontidig Distribution, which is a distribution company that packages and distributes morning papers, magazines and parcels all over Sweden. Maria Burvall Haag, their CIO, describes the need of enterprise systems for optimization of routes and ability to measure their reduced environmental impact as a result of adding more packages to one delivery.
A common theme among large companies is a technology debt in the legacy systems. As a company’s business grow with acquisitions, new business areas emerge and additional platforms are created to meet new demand, thus, the complexity of the technology backbone increases. Over time, the bundle of systems has grown to become legacy platforms with high maintenance costs. A well-known example of companies that are now highly dependent on legacy platforms are traditional banks and industries such as telecom and insurance, as they maintain systems that are several decades old to keep their operations running. However, legacy does not only affect these industries but in fact any growing business. But how do we evolve from this technology debt?
To avoid slowing down business development because of legacy in the enterprise system landscape, Björn Ekstedt, CIO at Postnord, explains how they have implemented SAFe all the way from management-level to the widespread organization. To succeed with the new way of working, Postnord will also change their principles of information management. Instead of having a push logic, they want to move towards pull systems, with automated integrations built on APIs and data lakes. In that way, Postnord would obtain an open landscape with an out-of-the-box information management setup, enabling faster business development and opening up opportunities to collaborate with other players on the field.
Summarizing the podcast series, three key areas stand out in the enterprise platform transformation journey. All CIOs focus on centralization, automation and obtaining a customer centric perspective. An interesting company to follow on their journey of digitalization is Securitas, that are focusing on obtaining a global approach in their service delivery platforms. One part of this journey was “Lift”, an initiative with the mission to centralize global core IT, a great challenge considering Securitas’ size: a company with businesses in 58 countries! “Lift” was completed last year and the result was a consolidation of IT departments around the world into three levels – global, divisional and clustered local IT service delivery. By using this structure, Securitas is able to deliver more services globally, some by division but also to keep some customer specific services locally. Svenska Kyrkan is another example of an organization that strives to create enterprise-wide systems. Due to division by districts of the organization, Svenska Kyrkan has ended up with several different finance systems that they plan to streamline by centralization.
Centralizing systems and moving towards enterprise platforms is also an enabler for implementation of innovative technology. Försäkringskassan makes use of their platform to automate their processes, which probably was a contributing factor to why Stefan Olowsson won the award “CIO of the year” in 2019. Försäkringskassan strategically focused on digitalizing and automating their digital service offering. Today some services, such as the dental aid, are fully automated while others still are dependent on manual assessments. To enable the automation of these processes, the enterprise platform must evolve by integrating AI and machine learning. Another company striving for automation is Early Bird Morgontidig Distribution. They use automation to operate more environmentally friendly and socially responsibly. Automation is important for scanning all packages automatically, and to follow up on their positive environmental impact.
A customer centric perspective is another area of high interest to our CIOs. Patrik Lindlöv, CIO at Keolis, tells us that applying this approach is vital for personalizing their customer’s journey, and is therefore regarded as a primary focus. To truly achieve customer centricity, Mats Hultin, CIO at Ericsson, explains that both transformation of the digital core as well as modernization of the application landscape is important. They perform many projects modernizing their digital core and focusing on the end-to-end end-user experience for customers, stakeholders and employees.
Peter Strömberg, CIO at Avanza, also emphasizes the importance of being customer centric, which to him translates into time to market and customer experience. Due to the high competition, for Avanza a well-functioning enterprise platforms supporting their customers’ needs is essential.
How to succeed
By observing the plans and actions of our CIOs, we can identify some key success factors and true words of advice expressed by the CIOs. Patrik Andersson, CIO at Ikano, thinks that having a stable platform in place is a prerequisite for a successful transformation. Recognize where you are and define where you want to be heading. Pelle Djerf, CIO at Svenska Kyrkan, underlines the importance of having common plans, follow-ups and a mutual goal. Per Boström, CIO at Skanska, emphasizes the value of understanding all parties when undergoing an integration, or any kind of transformation, as well as to communicate frequently. Frank Lambrigts, CIO at Securitas, advocates good internal communication as well as realizing cultural differences.
Do you want an organization that is capable of quickly absorbing new technology and innovation, while avoiding legacy? Taking advice from our CIOs, a modernized technology backbone is key. By mapping your organizations’ capabilities with an end-to-end mindset, you will be able to visualize what enterprise platforms your business needs to leverage the perks of a modernized technology backbone.
If you want to know more about how your company can benefit from modern enterprise platforms, reach out to Björn Olofsson, MD Sofigate Sweden, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A big thank you…
…to everyone that we have had the privilege to talk to when creating the Reimagine Technology podcast. If you would like to be interviewed for a podcast episode, please let us know! We are always looking for opportunities to learn and to get to know you.
Reimagine Technology – Guests interviewed in September 2019 – April 2020
Patrik Andersson – CIO, Ikano (September 2019)
Patrik Lindlöv – CIO, Keolis (October 2019)
Pelle Djerf – Head of IT, Svenska Kyrkan (October 2019)
Frank Lambrigts – CIO, Securitas Europe (November 2019)
Maria Burvall Haag – CIO, Early Bird Morgontidig Distribution (February 2020)
Mats Hultin – CIO, Ericsson (March 2020)
Peter Strömberg – CIO, Avanza (March 2020)
Stefan Olowsson – CIO, Försäkringskassan (March 2020)
Per Boström – CIO, Skanska (April 2020)
Anna Naumburg, Business Technology Analyst, Sofigate
Elin Fallgren, Business Technology Analyst, Sofigate
Filip Rickardsson, Business Technology Analyst, Sofigate
Rebecca Fjällborg, Business Technology Analyst, Sofigate