Driving a new and evolving Digital Agenda is commonplace for many companies that are competing with an ever-changing business landscape. This involves both being disruptive in launching new business channels and reengineering existing ones to optimize cost and efficiencies. Either activity requires the adoption of Digital Technologies, including Automation, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoTs) and Analytics.
This is where past learnings need to be applied to deliver effective Digital Transformation. The evolution of technology has led to businesses having to decide on the underlying application, which has resulted in multiple sets of development environments, underlying infrastructure platforms and operating systems, not forgetting that each of these has its own complexity in operating and supporting them.
All of this means IT plays a pivotal role in ensuring that another layer of complexity is not added to what, for many, is already a very complex landscape. It should be seen by the business as being responsible for the base layer of Digital technical capability that businesses can then utilize to build upon industry-specific solutions to support their Digital strategy and agenda.
This will avoid having multiple platforms, making it easier to support and operate, and result in a more cost-efficient environment.
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But where to start?
IT departments can and should lead their organization by example. When looking at some of the key aspects of the Digital Agenda they should establish a supportive Digital Backbone. This in turn will address critical Digital challenges within IT, which can be expanded to support the business with its larger Digital Transformation agenda, including:
Client Centricity – reengineering the Service Desk to be a Digital Services Support Centre. End Users are expecting more freedom in the way they can obtain support. They are both looking for and expect the ability to receive an omnichannel experience, being able to connect via traditional Voice, Text, Video or indeed Social Media. The introduction of software robots (BoTs) to triage and resolve incidents and requests prior to them requiring any manual intervention is a great way to connect these platforms. Linking the BoTs with AI and Automation further enriches the capability to deal with end-user interactions without manual intervention. Add in Analytics to determine trends and common resolution patterns to further automate.
The Digital Services Support Centre platform can then be broadened out to support customer-to-business interactions.
Process Re-engineering – a poorly defined and automated process is still a poorly defined process! Re-engineering Service Management requires careful re-engineering of processes – implementing against a well-defined and structured organization. Only when the process is robust – well defined, implemented and embedded into the organization - can automation really play a key role in optimizing its effectiveness. Underpinning this with Analytics to observe trends results in the ability to conduct effective Continuous Improvements.
The resultant process reengineering approach and underlying technical platform can then be leveraged by business areas.
Zero Touch Operations – improving the manner in which IT operations are conducted is driving a ‘zero touch’ approach to technical operations. The re-engineering of applications and infrastructure (Cloud, Data Centre, Network, End User) delivering an automated resolution of issues is enabled through AI – capturing alerts and determining the appropriate course of action, and Analytics to learn and continually improve the AIs capability to resolve. Only when an alert – or series of alerts cannot be determined by AI - does manual intervention occur.
Taking these learnings and underlying platform into the business, adding the additional benefits of deploying IoT can support their desire to reduce manual intervention and achieve ‘zero touch’ problem resolution.
The power of the Cloud – many businesses have taken it upon themselves to harness the benefits which the Cloud provides. As a result, however, many IT organizations are not in control of Cloud adoption and usage.
It is a key prerequisite for any Digital Transformation program looking to consider and solve a Cloud Management Platform (CMP). A CMP can provide governance without barriers, allowing the business to select usage of the Cloud whilst IT remains in control with regard to operational performance and financial control.
Launching new business capabilities – effective development programs being able to be run in parallel is a key objective in being first to market. An Agile Dev/Ops platform will enable IT to support the business in driving multiple development initiatives in a time-efficient manner.
Well, this sounds very nice and can support both an IT Digital Backbone and extensions to the business, but how do you get started? You need to drive the establishment of the Digital Backbone.
- Understand your business – sounds rudimentary but very important. AI engines by definition are at the heart of the Digital Agenda. These will be industry-specific and need to be considered when planning a Digital Transformation
- Define the foundations – develop a strategy and roadmap based upon common components suitable for the specific industry.
- Make it count – ensure there is a sound business case for what will be a complex program, encompassing both the business and IT, and obtain business stakeholder buy-in.
- Once started – finish – the past has shown us that when it gets tough, we revert back to the path of least resistance. Keep your nerve and realize what the strategy and roadmap were designed to achieve.
- Business and IT in harmony – there is nothing stopping business transformation from being ahead of IT and vice versa – it’s all about value.
Dealing with past legacy
Ok – so we have safeguarded the future, what about the legacy?
Digital Transformation will be intrusive across the whole of the Business and IT – including those applications that have never found themselves migrated away from the legacy platforms!
It can be a catalyst for a major rethink around the application portfolio.
We believe at CGI that as business functionality changes to fulfill new products, services or business models, so the need for changes in existing applications or their replacements becomes apparent.
Now is the time to consider recodification, replacement or redevelopment to finally move away from the legacy platforms and use this event to migrate to the Cloud.
Stephen Nunn, Director of Advisory Services, CGI