Over the last few months, organizations have understandably been focused on stabilizing operations and ensuring they can weather the storm of the global pandemic. Now, as some semblance of calm begins to return, they can start to look at what’s next and evaluate the longer-term impact on their digital transformations. MuleSoft’s 2020 Connectivity Benchmark report found that at the start of the year, 92 percent of organizations were already undertaking digital transformation initiatives or were planning to in the next 12 months. For some, the pandemic will have slowed these efforts as they focused on stabilization, but for others, it has been a catalyst that has supercharged their digital transformation.
Accelerating into a more digital future
Regardless of which camp they fall into, it’s imperative that organizations start to plan for what comes next as we begin to emerge from this crisis. As we look to the future, it’s clear that the world we’re entering isn’t the same as the one we left in 2019, and we’re unlikely to return to that sense of ‘normal’ any time soon. Customer and employee demands will continue to change and will vary significantly by region as the pandemic evolves – and digital will remain the key to success.
Organizations that had a pre-existing foundation of digital agility were best placed to adapt quickly at the start of the pandemic, and we’ve since seen many others seeking to emulate that capability as they look first to stabilize, then to reignite growth. To do so, organizations will need to bolster their digital transformation initiatives and double down on the capabilities they need to become more agile and responsive. There are four key steps they can take to support that journey.
Step One: Take stock of the situation.
Organizations should begin with an audit of their IT infrastructure systems and processes, to identify how agile they truly are and where there’s room for improvement. It’s natural for the number of applications organizations have to increase exponentially as they grow, but without any checks in place, this can contribute to significant inefficiencies. They should therefore focus on any areas of duplication and look to eliminate those.
For example, are teams using multiple systems of record or replicating datasets? Organizations should also weigh up which tasks contribute most to business outcomes and whether any systems or processes could be eliminated to reduce technical debt. Throughout this process, candid conversations, and clear communication between various stakeholders about what has been accomplished and what processes can be improved will be vital.
Step Two: Align and move forward.
The next step is to define what the IT roadmap for the next normal looks like. This requires alignment between key stakeholders, and can best be supported by creating a Centre for Enablement (C4E), with a specialized team tasked with driving an IT operating model shift. The C4E creates clear goals and provides leadership to both business and technical teams throughout the change.
Once this C4E team has been established, it will need visibility into business priorities – for instance, there may be goals to increase remote working, to automate more manual processes, or acquire new digital capabilities. These priorities will influence the decisions made by IT management, so transparency and communication throughout the process is key.
Step Three: Identify short-term demand gaps.
For the past few months, many organizations have been forced to focus on the highest priority tasks needed to stay afloat. Now, as the immediacy of their initial response to the pandemic eases off, organizations can take the time to identify any shortcomings between customer needs and their delivery capabilities, and start to close the gap. To do that most efficiently, businesses can use composable integration assets to deliver connected experiences, products, and services much faster.
Step Four: Lay foundations for long-term agility.
As they look to the longer-term future, organizations will need to look at how their digital transformation roadmap has shifted during COVID-19. They need to evaluate whether any of the assets or capabilities they created in the last few months were similar to their transformation roadmap, and if so, whether they can be reused or repurposed to get new initiatives off the ground with greater agility.
One way of achieving this is through an API-led approach to connectivity, which allows organizations to expose capabilities and data to a wider ecosystem. Partners and other third-party developers can then discover, access, and reuse these APIs, thereby extending the power of innovation to a wider group.
Future-proofing against further disruption
As the short-term impact of the pandemic begins to ease and the world looks ahead to dealing with the medium and longer-term fallout, the choices organizations make now are critical. They simply cannot afford to find themselves unprepared for any challenges that emerge further down the road. IT leaders must implement measures now to get ahead of any further disruptions.
They should seek to future-proof their organizations and empower themselves with the flexibility needed to handle rapid and unforeseen change. This capability will form the bedrock of innovation moving forwards, creating a composable enterprise with the means to navigate an uncertain future with speed and agility, and to reignite growth in an increasingly digital world.
- Ian Fairclough is VP of EMEA CS at MuleSoft.
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