When it comes to the marriage between organisations and technology, digital transformation is often the unspoken relationship problem that needs to be addressed.
Digital transformation, or using technology to make processes more effective and efficient while opening-up new business opportunities, is usually (and quite rightfully) high up on the business agenda. Keeping up with the latest technologies and upgrading strategic processes accordingly should enable a more agile and robust way of working – an aim of forward thinking organisations.
According to a report we conducted with IDG Connect, digital transformation is a key focus for organisations across key Western European markets, with 60 per cent of current IT investment designed to support future business expansion and growth.
However, despite decades of investments in IT infrastructure, very few companies say they’re hitting the mark when it comes to fully upgrading to digital technologies.
What’s holding you back?
It is imperative for CIOs to focus on implementing digital transformation, however, there are factors holding them back.
Almost two-thirds (64 per cent) of organisations have struggled to adequately implement cloud, mobile or Big Data analytics as they are unable to keep up with the pace of change of technology and 64 per cent of businesses admit to struggling with the speed of digital change. This is understandable as new solutions and technology innovations are developed at relentless speed.
Although investment in digital transformation is a key focus for organisations, the cost of implementation can often become a stumbling block – for some this is an expensive makeover which makes it a difficult commitment.
Finding your perfect match
Interestingly, as much as 63 per cent of businesses also state that finding the right partners is a barrier to implementation. Organisations that want to undergo a digital transformation need strategic partners to help them implement innovative technology and drive process change. Strong partnerships enable agile projects and strategic bets on technology platforms.
Finding the right partners can be achieved by effective research and by having the right conversations. You should be sure to discuss your stance on cloud hosting, user experience and training – also highlight your policy on service level agreements (SLA) and response times. Discussing these issues will help you to make the right decision.
Securing the future
The desire for access to company data is spurring a surge in targeted cyber-attacks each year and these are becoming more sophisticated. Effective digital transformation must guard against these threats.
Digital transformation isn’t just for ensuring robustness and agility, data security is also a key consideration for many organisations. Cyber-attacks are growing in numbers and equally in strength of attack vectors. When you consider that on average four to five new malware variants were discovered every second in 2016, it’s clear that security is going to remain top of the agenda for many businesses.
The growth of the Internet of Things and connected devices is likely to cause additional security headaches for companies pursuing transformation. Cyber-attacks are no longer contained to just computers, attackers are sharply discovering new weak points, caused by the proliferation of connected devices. Any company roadmap for digital transformation needs to take this into consideration. Initial steps should include deploying security gateways and planning for device upgrades.
Transforming the business doesn’t mean you must completely remodel it or place everything online, nor should you have to complete a particular technology implementation or hit a strategic milestone. It’s a continuum of having put in all the right pieces, continuing to remove legacy technologies, exploring what’s new and investing in the right evolving technologies to stay competitive.
It is commonly mistaken that all responsibility lies in the hands of the IT department, yet this is not the case. Although digital transformation is often driven by the IT team, there must be a level of receptiveness amongst the business leadership. Technology decisions do not just belong to the CTO or CIO – or even the CEO any longer. Technology decisions require shared accountability and shared goals rather than siloed operations competing from separate divisions and separate budgets. Businesses can’t make the shift too quickly; the pursuit of the greater good isn’t just pie in the sky. Decisions around technology need to be made quickly or stakeholders, employees and consumers can be hurt by other business models.
Achieving the best relationship
Embracing digital transformation as part of a business’ relationship with technology is about designing infrastructure, systems and processes so that they can easily change. It’s about capitalising on opportunities and minimising setbacks. It’s about enabling your network to work smarter, not harder.
The key is the strength of the underlying network. The passive, stagnant network is a thing of the past. With an agile networking ecosystem, the work of digital transformation can be made a lot easier. It all starts with the right combination of services and an openness to change.
Organisations should be looking to pursue hybrid connectivity, this involves preparing for what’s next with networking services that can react on a moment’s notice and staying flexible as they move into the future. Selecting the right cloud connectivity for your business is also key, whether that’s public, private or a combination. Underpinning this, to assuage security concerns, network-based security should also be tied into the overall network strategy
In the IDG Connect research, when respondents were asked what the top areas of digital transformation investment would be over the next year or so, Big Data analytics for business intelligence, cloud migration – and as expected – data security all came out on top in terms of priorities. However, for CIOs to achieve these transformations, they will have to secure the support of the right people, both internally and externally.
As expected, these investments are being driven by a need to reduce the cost of IT service delivery by optimising legacy infrastructure; supporting greater product or service innovation and a want to improve customer experience and interaction. It’s likely these drivers will remain the same for the coming years as legacy infrastructure and a need to innovate will always exist.
Digital transformation holds a wealth of opportunities for companies. By leveraging cloud, mobile and Big Data analytics, companies can better serve their customers while also improving their own business models.
Keeping up with the pace of change, particularly around digital transformation, hinges on the strength of a company’s underlying network. CIOs are advised to select partners that can provide guidance and the infrastructure that their companies need to meet the challenges of today’s ever-changing world.
Andrew Edison, Senior Vice President Sales, EMEA, Level 3 Communications
Image Credit: Konica Minolta Business Solutions UK