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‘Acceleration of the digital transformation is an imperative’: Ernst & Young CTO

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Nicola Morini Bianzino, Ernst & Young CTO, joins Yahoo Finance’s Alexis Christoforous and Kristin Myers to discuss post-pandemic technology governance planning.

Video Transcript

- So what do CEOs need to prioritize today to future-proof their business for tomorrow? Well, let's find out. We're joined now by Nicola Morini Bianzino, Ernst & Young chief technology officer. So Nicola, I'm going to ask you that question. What can companies do to prep for a post-pandemic world, especially in terms of the technology that they need to invest in going forward?

NICOLA MORINI BIANZINO: Yeah, I think, you know, first of all, I think it's great to be here. So I think what we've seen over the pandemic is that technology, once again, is a CEO-level agenda, right? So we're having conversations across the boards, across industries with the boards of directors, C-suites, because once again it's been proven that especially during the pressure that most companies have been under the pandemic, you know, the acceleration of the digital transformation is an imperative.

And so if you extend the concern, right, we're seeing most companies move into the cloud, step number one, leveraging the data science across the board. Data is becoming more and more important. And then artificial intelligence, the final-- I would say, start adopting artificial intelligence at the enterprise level is becoming more important.

But there is one element that I think is critical in the way companies should look at technology. And it is speed of adoption, right? What we have seen in the past has been a tendency to run large IT transformation in a multi-year type of time frame. This is not possible anymore. The pandemic has taught us the lesson that things move really fast. If we want to take advantage of the opportunity, we need to move with speed.

- Nicola, I'm curious what you're hearing from clients when it comes to technology as it pertains to security. How much are CEOs and C-suite execs focusing and pouring resources into that area? Because I think as more of us spend time working from home, we realized just, you know, some of the weak points in our security systems.

NICOLA MORINI BIANZINO: Ah, absolutely. It is top of mind. I think that from a technology perspective, there is quite a bit that still needs to happen in the ecosystem in order to be able to truly secure all these access point, all these ends points that we're seeing, you know, now that everybody's working from home. But it's definitely an environment where everybody is super careful, very worried.

There is a lot of risk management going across enterprises because cyber security is a must, right? Any company, it doesn't matter across which industry. That has a security breach, a security incident. That'll put them on the cover page of the media and for all the wrong reasons. So the attention is absolutely the highest that I've ever seen in my career.

- So Nicola, I hear you highlighting cyber security. I'm curious to know what else you think are going to be the next big technological trends or where everyone else will also be paying a lot of attention and investment going forward.

NICOLA MORINI BIANZINO: I think the enterprise adoption of artificial intelligence is going to be-- is super important for the future of, you know, for any organization, including ours. If we miss the death cycle of technology innovation, an organization will fall very quickly behind.

And AI is also very fickle in the sense that you need to start before others, right? Before the others, your competition, because otherwise if you start later, you will never, never catch up. So that's one. And the other thing, I think, we're going to be very important to see, especially with the new administration, is the return of the government to drive R&D, OK?

So we have seen a very-- a little bit of a schizophrenic approach to R&D in the last few years. Lots have been driven by private companies. I think it's necessary from a regulatory perspective, from a big size of investment perspective as well, to have-- the R&D is, once again, driven by the central organization and the governments as well.

- I want to talk to you a little bit about the chip shortage right now that so many industries are suffering from, the supply chain constraints that that is resulting in. Again, what are your clients saying about that? And are there any workarounds that they're coming up with as we wait for the chip shortage to ease?

NICOLA MORINI BIANZINO: Yeah, that has absolutely remarkable, right? Everyone got really surprised, the perfect storm. You had the geopolitical pressures, you had a demand that has spiked up across industries very, very quickly. And also you had an organization that I think they haven't invested in technology, you know, quickly enough.

I talked about speed of execution at the beginning of the discussion. And I think we're seeing companies that are still a little bit thankful to all the models of supply chain, of designing, engineering components as well that rely on technology that are older. And so they created the clog.

It's absolutely remarkable what happened. I don't think there is a resolution in the short term. But what the situation, I think, highlights is that the companies that can be more agile, that can have speed, that can look ahead, I think they find their advantage, their competitive advantage because I've seen some, for example, automotive companies that are not that affected by the chip shortage versus others have been greatly affected. And so this shows that it is actually possible to avoid these problems if you use the data, if you can plan your supply chains in the right way.