Getting to the “how” of digital transformation

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There’s no question that digital transformation is at the top of virtually every organisation’s list of objectives and concerns as we start off 2019. The rules of business and the public sector are being rewritten nearly every day as new opportunities and expectations enter our collective mindset. Evolve with these new requirements and it’s likely the company will flourish. Ignore them, and prepare to struggle. The disparity is that stark.   

Much has been written on “why” digital transformation is business critical. A combination of technology advances, evolving customer expectations, process evolutions (e.g. digitisation), and new business models are forcing IT and line-of-business executives’ hands on next steps. In the end, the decisions they make on how to address these changes will have a direct impact on differentiation, growth and scale, profitability, customer satisfaction and speed-to-market. That’s certainly enough reason to prioritise.

What’s a bit less clear is the “how.” How does an organisation transform in a way that balances speed, quality and cost? More importantly, how can an organisation run its business and transform at the same time, to minimise risk and ensure lasting success? The answer to this is a bit more complex, yet still well within the realm of possibility by focusing on the four core aspects of digital transformation.

1. Optimise for speed by prioritising enterprise DevOps

Organisations recognise that every day they have not progressed is another day they fall behind. An absence of tools to build and deliver quality software rapidly presents unneeded roadblocks to success.  With emerging DevOps technology as a high priority, one can reduce operational friction with automation and enhanced collaboration. Additionally, business confidence will be boosted knowing that quality and security are in plain sight, while better outcomes can be delivered with a level of ongoing assessment and course correction on core business processes.  

2. Maximise agility with hybrid IT management

Today, organisations are operating in an increasingly complex IT reality – they are not simply choosing between the cloud and on-premise, but instead among many alternatives. For optimum flexibility, they must find software that supports a mixed infrastructure. Enter hybrid IT, which can accelerate delivery of IT resources, increase IT efficiency, and fuel creativity and innovation – bridging traditional and transformational IT services, from mainframe to mobile, corporate to cloud.  

3. Drive transformation with predictive analytics 

Lakes of data are growing every day as new ways to capture information (e.g., IoT) expand. Yet, the data itself is only valuable if one can glean insights from it. Organisations that place a premium on advanced analytics are bound to learn more about unmet customer needs, under-funded parts of the business, emerging business models and more. This can naturally help businesses better drive the top line. Predictive analytics is also necessary to achieve scale in many cases, as it can help organisations more efficiently identify what data it needs to protect, as well as processes that can be expedited, and more.  

4. Secure what matters most, especially in times of transformation

Protecting an organisation’s most important assets – identities, applications and data – is naturally important at any point, but perhaps never more so than during a period of transition, particularly as previously established standards and processes are stress tested. Without question, the cost of a breach is significant and the fines and sanctions for not protecting data can be material, affecting the bottom line. The longer-term, hidden costs associated with failure can be even more significant, including potential lawsuits, impact to brand and even shareholder value. With the stakes so high, “new” isn’t as imperative as trusted and proven. Organisations placing an emphasis on technology with the latter characteristics are sure to drive down risk.

By focusing on these four critical aspects of digital transformation first, organisations are able to address the core tenets of digital transformation. They are then able to extend their investments from there – establishing the core foundation before adding supplementary projects and features.  

Looking ahead: moving beyond strategy

Digital transformation often begins with a key decision point: start over from scratch or leverage existing investments and processes and then modernise. In most cases, an organisation has made significant investments in IT that are enabling real benefits. Ripping out these systems may degrade the ROI on those investments and put critical revenue (or cost savings/risk mitigation) at risk.   

A holistic strategy addressing all of the four core aspects of digital transformation is generally the winning approach – regardless of an organisation’s position in the IT lifecycle. By utilising and supplementing existing investments, along with initially addressing where the need is greatest and expanding from there, businesses can achieve greater speed and flexibility with lower overall risk.

Joe Garber, Global Head of Strategy and Solutions at MicroFocus