The challenges of transformation

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As organisations look at digital transformation, they are faced with a technology landscape that is constantly evolving and driving change across the enterprise. The pillars upon which business IT systems were built 30 years ago are rapidly fading out of existence, and organisations are now pushing IT to change, not the other way around.

Despite IT doing its best to keep up with these changes, technology is simply moving too quickly. Previously, IT teams were the primary go-to experts; they dictated what strategies and applications the businesses needed to be using, and tools or platforms were bought as a result. However, most people are now proficient in the use of technology and are much more IT savvy than they used to be. Technology has shifted from an IT issue to a business priority issue as the boardroom looks at ways to improve efficiency and save costs through its use. IT teams that try to hold onto the control they alone once had are starting to be regarded as a hindrance to getting things done quickly, efficiently, and cost-effectively.

What are the challenges?

For IT teams to survive this paradigm shift, they need to stop appearing as a gatekeeper to digitalisation and transformation. IT departments must be perceived as enablers and trusted partners to help deliver greater business performance. A common issue is that digital transformation means different things to different people, so pressure isn’t just being applied to IT teams or the C-suite, but to all departments. Each department will have its own requirements around tools and capabilities, and trying to cater to them all is almost impossible. The challenges of digital transformation can be great, but it is essential to overcome these challenges to allow businesses to reach their full potential.

IT must stop being its own worst enemy

Culture has been a big problem in IT departments. From the bottom up, IT teams are typically resistant to change. They tend to view new technology trends such as SaaS and the cloud as more of a threat than an opportunity, often because they believe their current skillset may become obsolete. Individuals may have spent years training for their Cisco certifications (CCIEs) or those from other technology vendors, but for IT teams it’s no longer about inputting commands; all that’s required is the use of an effective web portal.

To overcome these concerns, re-training and buy-in from the staff is needed. It’s important for IT team members to recognise that they can continue to provide value to the business, albeit in a slightly different way than they did five or 10 years ago.

Giving up control

The IT team’s job is no longer about configuring boxes. It’s about giving control to teams that can make better use of technology advancements, such as the cloud. The other side of this release of control is a significant shift in security teams’ attitudes. They must accept that whilst in the past they were the ones to deny access and to inspect the elements of the business network, they must now trust their contractors and other teams to ensure compliance with GDPR and other company or industry regulations. Handing over some control can be critically important to the success of a digital transformation project, but it can be one of the hardest challenges to overcome.

Not knowing where to start

Currently, with the pace of technology changes and the volume of concurrent projects that IT executives have on their to-do lists, stress levels and workloads are high. When times get hard it can be difficult to prioritise which tasks and initiatives to work on or deploy. It has therefore become necessary for IT teams to pick and choose their battles when it comes to allocating resources.

Technology is evolving every day, and businesses that only look to change after long periods will forever be playing catch-up to competitors who have chosen their battles and prioritised methodically. Whether it’s advancements such as the Internet of Things (IoT) or the increased use of SaaS or collaborative tools, companies in today’s IT world can’t afford not to prioritise their battles and start efficiently. Working with a company that offers a cloud-based approach to security-as-a-service takes the pressure off the team, relieving some of its heavy workloads so it can focus on other challenges and goals.

  • Budgeting and finance
    Trying to justify extra spend on a new service can be difficult, particularly when the current model is still costing money. To move beyond this issue, businesses should begin gradually; start small but think big—a three- or four-year plan is a good timescale for your IT transformation.
  • Looking at the bigger picture
    Attempting to satisfy all desires individually is too complex, and IT teams end up losing sight of the bigger picture. It is important to take a step back and approach things from another angle. Instead of thinking about technology that can satisfy one or two requirements, organisations need to find tools that can fulfil multiple needs at once. Not only is this approach more cost-effective, but it allows more time and resources for IT teams to focus on other issues.

It is important for IT teams to plan a strategic roadmap around some of the major business complaints often associated with legacy architecture. The speed to deploy and improve performance with the cloud, SaaS, and business applications must be put at the forefront of these plans. They can ultimately offer high flexibility and adaptability to business needs in terms of mergers, divestitures, new sites, and the removal of old virtual private networks (VPNs) and other legacy technologies.

Digital transformation within businesses is an ongoing and tricky minefield to navigate. If IT teams, C-suite officials, and department staffs work together to address needs across the organisation, then companies will successfully overcome the challenges of digital transformation and start to reap the benefits.

Alex Teteris, Principal Technology Evangelist, Zscaler
Image Credit: Konica Minolta Business Solutions UK