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May 25 2016. “The earthquake that is digitization can be the end of the CEO”. A prologue that swept over the main auditorium like a dark cloud on the opening day of the Digital Enterprise Show (DES).

On the stage, six business leaders, Ana María Llopis (ideas4all), Elena Pisonero (Hispasat), Enrique Alejo (RTVE), José Luis Sancho (Accenture), Luis Miguel Gilpérez (Telefónica) and Luis Gallego (Iberia), tried to provide the keys that will help human beings dominate machines in the digital transformation, understanding rather than being engulfed by an overwhelming cloud of bits and data.

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Ana María Llopis, ideas4all’s CEO, opened the presentation “Economic Outlook and Digital Agenda” quoting Mandela (“One must learn to walk the tightrope of one’s contradictions”) to talk about a digital era that forces companies “to be in a permanent beta state, innovating and even cannibalizing themselves” if they want to compete in a new paradigm defined by many as a new industrial revolution, of which we are yet to truly understand the consequences.

Despite the uncertainty, all the speakers agreed that the digital transformation offers more advantages than dangers. And that these dark clouds can bring a flurry of opportunities. Ana María Llopis pointed at how low-cost democratization of IT infrastructures has allowed exponential growth in many sectors.

Connectivity is making new business models possible, with internal or external (the latter being the case in a collaborative economy) as well as organizational assets. New opportunities that must see the integration of “a digitization process for Boards of Directors as well as all other people that make up the organization, and even our competitors, making the most of the collective intelligence to gain both economic and social benefits through CSR policies”.

Likewise, Elena Pisonero, president of Hispasat, expressed that “digitization is connectivity” and the integration of several actors with a common aim. She believes that “we are faced with a paradigm shift, with new ways of doing business and new relationships with clients”, and now have the opportunity “to close gaps, integrating people and giving them a voice by giving them access to technology”.

Enrique Alejo, General Director of RTVE, stressed the fact that “digitization opens doors to everyone in a fragmented world” and transforms audiences “into active, rather than passive, actors”, providing content for services or predicting services. A model that, he believes, is slowly translating to the business world with less hierarchy and more ‘neural-like’ connections to share knowledge.

Thus, another conclusion of this conference was that knowledge and ideas are the basic raw material of digitization. José Luis Sancho, Managing Director of Accenture Digital, agreed with all other speakers that “everything we do in the digital era can have a multiplier effect”, but insisted that for this to happen we must reinvent job profiles: “We must be prepared to do things we don’t know how to do, but have to do; acquiring talent is just as important as acquiring technology”.

He also wanted to highlight the great problem of youth unemployment, which he says can be tackled through “the acquisition of technology skills and creation of projects that focus on the digital and the opportunities it creates”. Ana María Llopis coincided as she mentioned there is “an entire generation waiting to be listened to, with ideas that they are eager to share”.

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Luis Miguel Gilpérez, president of Telefónica, share the approach by stating that we need more digital profiles and IT infrastructure in order to offer rising on-demand services, such as video content. Consumers and clients were mentioned by speakers on several occasions, as one more link in the digital ecosystem. As part “of a cultural transformation, with an environment and demands that require the assumption of agile and co-creative processes, involving employees as well as clients”, in the words ofLuis Gallego, president of Iberia.

A complex and choral ecosystem that sets the digital agenda for managers over and above industries, sectors and borders. All speakers highlighted that fact that digital transformation is a priority and not a passing fashion, and that one of its great differentiating values is allowing equal competition, and equal opportunities, to companies that adapt to this new order.

But not everything is adapting. The best organizations will be those that–regardless of whether they are great corporations or startups–know how to detect new opportunities and innovate. As Pisonero put it, paraphrasing Darwin, “it won’t be the strongest who survive, but those who better adapt”.

Main takeaways from the event on digital transformation:
– It will transform all sectors and markets
– It is not a passing fashion, but a cultural change
– Offers as many opportunities as risks
– Requires new skills, abilities and leaders
– Empowers our clients and consumers as co-creators

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