Digital transformation is a big theme getting a lot of discussion on Digitally Cognizant: about how mobile is key to digital or how to create better customer experiences with digital. But with all the advantages that digital can provide, the concept isn’t always understood well. Where is digital going? How can businesses look toward the future of digital solutions?

Interestingly, Malcolm Frank, executive vice president of strategy and marketing at Cognizant, recently spoke with Vinne Mirchandani, CEO of Deal Architect, about this very topic. Specifically they discussed the evolution of digital and what the future may hold. Frank provided rare insight into important trends in outsourcing and the full interview is worth a read, including part two. Here are a few takeaways:

Clients don’t think in digital

For CXOs, Frank says, digital “is still too ephemeral. Rarely do clients roll out of bed and say, ‘I have to solve a digital problem today.’” The evolution of the SMAC (social, mobile, analytics, and cloud) stack has shown that buzzwords come and go. Several years ago, everyone in the industry was hyping cloud solutions to the point that clients started losing sight of what the term meant. Then everyone wanted social solutions before those were overshadowed by analytics and big data.

Digital, in Frank’s thinking, is much the same. Clients are interested in solutions to their problems, not just solutions that are digital. Frank believes that we are seeing a good shift as digital solutions become more established. As clients come to know and understand what digital offers, those solutions will become easier to acquire, rather than getting lost in the rush for whatever is popular. A bank won’t talk about “digital” solutions, but it will talk about a specific problem that needs to be addressed, such as robo-advisory automation solutions.

the future of digitalMirchandani and Frank also discussed Cognizant’s three-horizon strategy and code halos. Frank has been a key player in making Cognizant competitive in these areas as Cognizant’s Center for the Future of Work has helped us cut through the hype and understand what is really important to our clients, and Frank’s own Code Halos has helped inform clients about how digital works in the real world. Frank says, “I think the key nugget people picked up was that any person, place, or thing is going to have a virtual life as well as a physical life. It has a digital twin.”

Understanding the three horizons

The three-horizon strategy has also been crucial both for us internally and for our clients. Frank explains the three horizons as what is old and what is new, both to a company and to a market. Horizon 1 deals with operations that are old to a company and old to a market. We work to make those operations faster, better, and cheaper. Horizon 2 deals with things that are old to the market but new to the company. “There is a lot of activity there in digital,” Frank says. “We see clients looking at use cases for their businesses which mirror the FANG (Facebook, Apple, Netflix, Google) vendors.” Horizon 3 is what is new to both a company and a market. “That’s where we see a lot of our clients in banking, healthcare, insurance, and retail who are looking to reinvent their sectors,” Frank notes. “How can we think out of the box and apply digital and create completely new offers?”

The crossroads of business and technology

Clients are increasingly concerned not only how digital can solve problems but also with how those new solutions will tie into their existing business processes. Frank sees that companies are talking more about integrating digital holistically, and they need partners that understand the complexities of technology and the realities of business. With expertise in both, Cognizant sits at that intersection, working on the future of digital. Learn more at the Center for the Future of Work

Malcolm Frank

Malcolm Frank

Malcolm Frank is President, Cognizant Digital Business. His responsibilities include industry and media relations, corporate communications, and field and corporate marketing. He joined... Read more