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New CIO Study Reveals Three Key Levers to Successful Digital Transformation

New Data Illustrates Keys to Growth, Critical Need and Path to Success in the Digital Economy

SAN MATEO, Calif.—June 22, 2017—A new study by open-source pioneer Alfresco Software, a leading provider of content management and process automation, and Forbes Insights explores what separates the winners from the losers in the digital economy. The report “The Great Rethink: How Digital Leaders Are Building Tomorrow’s Organizations” is based on comprehensive interviews with more than 300 top-tier executives. It identifies characteristics commonly held by organizations that continue to outperform others as they seek to establish themselves as digital disruptors in the markets they serve.

According to Alfresco founder and CTO John Newton, “Today’s corporate leaders must realize that they need to disrupt or risk being disrupted.   Those who are not yet thinking about how they will innovate with new approaches leveraging technology are at risk,” Newton warned.

Leaders Must Change Their Thinking

The research concludes that there are three levers that business and IT leaders should employ for successful digital transformation which catalyze a rethinking of the way organizations leverage technology:

  • Design thinking—where a relentless focus upon optimizing user experience and customer experience guides all business technology decisions.
  • Open thinking—in which innovation from both inside and outside the organization is encouraged to drive new initiatives.
  • Platform thinking—where the desired outcome of systems and solution deployment is to build an ecosystem of partners and customers that exchange capabilities and data in a manner that creates added value.

“Platform thinking is about new business models,” said Newton. “We determined how prevalent platform thinking was by asking, ‘To what extent do you open up your systems and information to third parties, and to what extent do you consume systems and information from third parties?’ Just think about how Uber embeds itself into Google Maps so that when you pull up some directions, it tells you that there is an Uber three minutes away and that it can get you to your destination in ten minutes. That’s real platform thinking—the ability to extend your reach far and wide to attract more people to your platform.” He added that going forward, fast-growing companies will invest even more quickly in platform thinking.

As supported by the new Alfresco research, it is important to note that the path to digital success is best realized by activating all three of these levers. Sixty-four percent of the report’s “best-in-class” firms, those that excel across all three categories, report significant annual growth (defined by exceeding 10 percent EBITDA growth over the past three years) versus 43 percent of those still developing their capabilities across one or two of the three key areas.

What It Takes to Be a Fast-Growing Company

First and foremost, the Alfresco research points to the need for CEOs to lead corporate digital transformation, with close to half (49 percent) of the fast-growing companies’ digital transformation efforts being lead directly by the CEO, versus 20 percent for all others. “Digital transformation starts at the top, ideally with the CEO driving change and ensuring that the whole company is moving in the right direction,” explained Newton.

According to Alfresco, fast-growing companies also excel at doing these three things:

  • They adopt a strategy of customer- and user-first thinking
    • 85 percent currently have dedicated user experience teams
    • 60 percent plan to increase resources in customer experience over the next three years
  • They commit to an open approach to the flow of ideas and concepts in their organizations
    • 85 percent say a commitment to open standards is important/very important
    • 90 percent report the use of open source technologies as important/very important
    • 85 percent describe open data as important/very important
  • They re-imagine a business model that supports a shared economy and leads the way in platform thinking
    • Today, fewer than 13 percent of companies provision their systems for customers/suppliers to connect to them; however, 67 percent plan to increase significantly in the next three years
    • Today, only 16 percent consume information from other customer/partner/supplier systems; however, in the next three years, 56 percent plan to increase their consumptions significantly

About This Research

The report is based on a survey of 328 senior-level IT executives, representing a range of industries, conducted by Alfresco and Forbes Insights in the first quarter of 2017. All executives came from companies with annual revenues exceeding $1 billion; 54 percent of survey respondents were from North America, and 46 percent were from Western Europe. Forbes Insights also conducted one-on-one interviews with executives to add context.

About Alfresco

Alfresco is an enterprise open-source software company focused on advancing the flow of digital business. The company provides a better, more effortless way for people to work, making sure they have the information they need, exactly when they need it most. The Alfresco Digital Business Platform is used to digitize processes, manage content and securely govern information.  Alfresco helps over 1,300 industry-leading organizations, including Cisco, Bank of NY Mellon, Liberty Mutual, Capital One, US Department of Navy, and NASA, be more responsive and competitive. Founded in 2005, Alfresco has its U.S. headquarters in San Mateo, California, and European headquarters in Maidenhead, UK. For more information on Alfresco, please visit

About Forbes Insights

Forbes Insights is the strategic research and thought leadership practice of Forbes Media, a global media, branding and technology company whose combined platforms reach nearly 94 million business decision makers worldwide on a monthly basis. By leveraging proprietary databases of senior-level executives in the Forbes community, Forbes Insights conducts research on a wide range of topics to position brands as thought leaders and drive stakeholder engagement. Research findings are delivered through a variety of digital, print and live executions and amplified across Forbes’ social and media platforms.

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