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The revolution will be digitised: What is Digital Transformation?

Digital Transformation is driving much debate within enterprise circles, but what does it actually entail? Digital Transformation is the change that sees digital technology incorporated into every aspect of human society and living. It is the third and final step in a long process, coming after achieving digital competence and then becoming digitally literate. It’s fairly simple to explain, but the real question is what does Digital Transformation mean for business?

Digital Transformation (DX) means that organisations need to be prepared to conduct business in an environment where everything carries an online component, everything is interconnected or soon will be, and everything is always on. Interactions with clients, customers and even competitors can occur at any time, in almost any way, and these interactions will happen in greater volumes than ever before. Digital transformation will be rapid and will have far-reaching implications for enterprises, yet it will also create additional operational complexity. The one individual best-placed to manage this transition is the CIO. This person is already in post, has intrinsic knowledge of the business, and a clear understanding of how the IT infrastructure can evolve to support DX.

The CIO takes the lead

In 2016, it simply isn’t enough to have a digital strategy. Success today requires companies to completely transform their business away from physical assets in favour of the new, data focused digital world. To survive, digital transformation cannot be an afterthought; instead it has to become part of a company’s DNA. For businesses going through this transformation, the change that follows will either be empowering or destructive. It is filled with equal parts danger and opportunity and it is up to the CIO to define a digital transformation strategy that navigates smoothly past the risks whilst seizing the opportunity.

Many of the technologies, as well as the business processes and even best practices that were the bedrock of the old world, are being continuously displaced. This paves the way for digitally savvy CIOs to emerge and use the transformation to lay the foundations of the businesses that will take us into the next century. To successfully embark on this journey, it is necessary for them to understand and put in place the four pillars of innovation; Cloud, Analytics, Social, and Mobile (CASM) to create an agile organisation built for the pace of the new digital world. Doing so, however, creates new and more frequent vulnerabilities that require enhanced risk mitigation plans.

Delivering Digital Transformation

Enterprises need to be aware that every system upgrade, new connection, or third party application added to existing IT infrastructure increases service delivery complexity, infrastructure scale, and adds to corporate risk. Combined, these changes could have serious implications to the successful running of the business. It’s down to the CIO to manage the transition, maintain a sense of order, and lay the foundations for the future. They are best placed to supervise the digital transformation strategy due to their understanding of IT infrastructure and how it can evolve to better serve the business. That said, the CIO will still have to deal with new pressures placed upon them to concurrently support the legacy systems and innovate and will find themselves pulled in all sorts of directions.

For example, in the industrial space, the pressures will come from engineering and construction teams looking to access new automated systems and IoT applications. They will also be under pressure to adopt new SaaS based platforms to support CRM, ERP, supply chain management and other enterprise functions. While in the background, lines of businesses (LOBs) will be acting autonomously utilising third party cloud-based services, introducing new applications to drive efficiencies or improve customer relationships. The scenario will be similar across all enterprises, regardless of sector. The CIO needs to pull together all the disparate initiatives that slip under the radar, bypassing corporate IT, to lead a consolidated and structured DX program. They should also have the power to veto initiatives that do not comply with the overall corporate IT quality assurance strategy.

Assuring success

Taking all of this into account, the CIO leadership role becomes clear. Someone has to oversee this entire process; someone has to make the right decisions about what direction the organisation should take to fulfil its new digital objectives. But they can only do this effectively if they have a real-time and historic view of business services and their infrastructure. This is only possible through continuous monitoring of all aspects of IT across the estate, which will spot and isolate any anomalies that may present a hindrance to business performance. This aspect of Business Assurance is bolstered by the real-time data that translates into actionable insight, which is of huge strategic value to the enterprise both in terms of productivity and revenue. Ideally this platform would also scale and support holistic visibility across the entire service delivery infrastructure.

Companies on the verge of DX need look no further than the CIO to lead them through the transformation process. They will be responsible for driving and facilitating change across the enterprise estate. Ensuring the right DX initiatives are in place and that the corporate Business Agility (competitiveness) is optimised. Having a robust Business Assurance strategy in place is crucial to successfully delivering Digital Transformation in the enterprise.

Michael Segal, Director of Marketing at NETSCOUT

Image Credit: Wichy / Shutterstock

Michael Segal
As Area VP Strategy at NETSCOUT, Michael Segal is responsible for market research, enterprise solutions, analyst relations, and customer advocacy. Michael's areas of expertise include SaaS/cloud, virtualisation, security, IP networking, & wireless.