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Embracing digital transformation and cloud with confidence

(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/Wichy)

Organisations are adopting digital transformation strategies to keep up with the latest changes in their markets. Research recently conducted by IDG revealed 89 per cent of enterprises have implemented, or are planning to adopt, a digital-first business strategy.

Why are these changes taking place? Because we, as customers, expect more of the companies we buy from. We want products faster, cheaper and easier to use, with more choice from services that know our preferences and meet our demands.

In the past, some enterprises have been slow to evolve their IT strategies and adopt new technologies. Banking and retail companies, for example, would have the same basic technology in place. However, as the world becomes more connected, companies have to change how they approach IT – as new market entrants without existing IT investments and overheads come to market, those tried and tested approaches offer less advantage than they once did. Existing companies need to consider innovative technology solutions to cut through these complex business solutions. Many organisations’ traditional functions are struggling to meet these demands with their existing IT, so they have to truly embrace digital transformation.

A major part of this transformation process involves the cloud. Cloud technology promises innovation and allows companies to keep up to date with the available options for deployment. The speed of development around cloud is increasing adoption by enterprises; around 57 per cent of enterprises currently consider cloud a critical business priority and 60 per cent of enterprises use three or more cloud platforms.

While the majority of companies have either moved to the cloud or are planning their migrations – the future for cloud is still not clear for some organisations. Many still need to determine the right model to adopt, which resources are needed, where they should invest and how they use cloud to create disruptive products and services.

Where do you begin?

For IT teams, digital transformation has to deliver more than simply changing existing IT systems for new ones. Those traditional applications will often act as huge repositories for business logic and data. Changing from one application to another will not be enough to meet the wider business needs.

Instead, IT teams have to get involved in the business decisions around digital transformation from the start. This can involve using technology to fundamentally change how a business operates – for example, changing from a product-based business through to selling a service or rental model – or using new digital services to expand the company’s offering. Making the right choices here will help decide whether digital transformation projects can succeed over time.

Based on these decisions, delivering this successfully means getting the right people, tools and resources in place around those specific goals. This would include looking at the following:

  • Business drivers and outcomes – this involves deciding on the right goals for any digital project, including whether these projects are going to be edits to existing designs or completely new designs
  • Current digital gaps – this should show where new technologies are needed; fragmented tools make digital transformation problematic and traditional tools may not effectively manage security in cloud environments.
  • IT priorities and initiatives – this helps teams manage where they have to invest in new services on cloud
  • Security – Security of data is essential, particularly as many digital transformation projects rely on customers sharing their personal data to provide those personalised services back to them. Planning around cloud security is therefore an important strategic move
  • Management and ownership – this involves giving IT teams the ability to control applications, content, and access across a multi-cloud environment.

An example of the above is where certain technology companies are disrupting the Building Management industry by using cloud services to leverage IoT solutions to proactively address business challenges. For instance, many buildings suffer from a performance gap in how they were designed to operate and what they actually deliver; high cost, standalone systems were once used to control building operational systems but may not address issues of “sick building syndrome”.

Now, cloud services augmented by innovation such as cognitive tools, with access to additional information such as weather data, enable user apps to be seamlessly and rapidly deployed to gather information from occupants. In turn, this will also drive behaviour that will positively impact operational efficiencies and increase productivity. All these benefits span multiple lines-of-business within an organisation. Furthermore, these cloud built IoT services can be rapidly augmented with additional data sources as sensors are added throughout sites and the app can use this to further “learn” what optimum looks like.

The opportunity the cloud presents

Cloud provides the tools to deliver these new digital solutions quickly, to scale these services faster and to integrate with existing IT infrastructure where those platforms still provide value. By using it companies can increase their revenue, pursue new markets, solve complex end-user problems and reduce operational expenses. So, how do companies keep up with cloud in order to make sure it’s an effective part of their digital transformation strategy?

The most important thing to realise is that cloud is not a single entity – there are myriad providers from the largest public cloud vendors, through to dedicated, best of breed vendors that can meet specific customer needs. There’s no one-size fits all solution that can support digital transformation for everyone. This represents a great opportunity for the channel can take advantage of, bringing these vendors and solution providers together. Leveraging the cloud for digital transformation speeds up delivery times, but it puts more emphasis on consulting expertise, system design and foresight around industry trends.

Companies that adopt cloud and digital transformation will have a head start in today’s market. Using the resources available, companies looking to transform their IT infrastructures can grow faster, operate more efficiently and transform their business in a rapidly changing world.

Embrace digital transformation

When should we make these changes? The answer is now. However complicated the journey may seem, there is no perfect time to adopt the cloud. If we don’t embrace the opportunity and keep focused on the bigger picture, the cloud will remain a tech buzzword - adopted but not truly leveraged for digital transformation.

For companies, digital transformation is driving the need to create unifying experiences. CIOs who embrace transformation are reaping the benefits of the cloud, seeing the efficiencies it brings to their workforce and enjoying the successes it yields for the wider business. The organisations that will survive in the future are the ones that recognise they must transform today to be ready for tomorrow.

Mark McHale, Vice President of UK and Ireland, Arrow ECS
Image source: Shutterstock/Wichy

Mark McHale is Vice President of UK and Ireland for Arrow ECS. He is responsible for the transformation, development and expansion of the ECS business at Arrow.