A digital world
Being competitive in the digital world is not just about modernising technology or increasing investment in IT services, it is about changing, and changing rapidly.
The current climate has forced businesses around the world to embrace digital technology, adapting the way that they operate, work remotely and provide value to their customers. Digital transformation is now essential for businesses navigating these uncertain times to rapidly develop and deploy digital solutions to meet both immediate and long term needs.
True digital transformation is not a simple solution or ‘project’ that can be implemented overnight – it is a continuous process that affects all areas of business. The aim is to drive significant change internally and externally, and whilst technology is the enabler, it is not the first element for businesses to focus on.
Digital transformation could involve moving on-premises systems to the cloud, modernising financial and operational software, or improving the customer experience using technology, but also affects business culture and innovation in the workforce.
Digital transformation will mean something different to every company in its own specific context, but should be guided by the broader business strategy. Not only is technology being used to transform existing services into something significantly better, but fundamental business models and processes are also transformed as part of the process.
Every business needs to analyse its own needs and company culture to set objectives and to understand and document the challenges involved in digital transformation. Many variables could affect the digital changes, so taking into consideration the impact on the business, internal processes, employees and customers is vital.
Most failed transformation journeys made the fundamental mistake of focusing on getting the technology in place first, before checking if changes needed to be made to the company itself.
Digital transformation needs people as much as it needs technology. A company could invest millions into a new IT infrastructure or AI technology to help run a facet of the business, but the ability to adapt as a company is dependent on the right human skills. Having internal expertise to work with the technology is vital, as is a team dedicated to managing the implementation, running tests, analysing the impact of new technologies and training staff.
Businesses also need to determine how well a new technology will take root and be received in the company, as well as its overall impact. For instance, some technologies such as AI and IoT can take longer to catch on in certain industries, especially if people fear that their jobs may be replaced by the new technology.
Long term digital transformation plans can change company values and needs buy-in from employees and stakeholders. Clearly communicating the plan and vision is just as important as the strategy itself. Plans should be laid out transparently with the opportunity to give feedback, as well as preparing employees for working with new tools and technologies.
Many industries now have a cloud-first policy, meaning that there is a commitment to consider cloud-based solutions before other alternatives. Cloud computing offers many benefits for businesses to modernise its IT infrastructure and start to think about serving customers in new and innovative ways.
Current IT solutions need to be assessed and ideal future states for core infrastructure and applications mapped out before any new digital services are implemented. Businesses can then evaluate digital alternatives to see if they will improve any existing processes. That could be to redesign products and experiences to have a digital component (such as IoT or AI) or building a strong IT infrastructure so that sites and applications are more resilient.
A lot of businesses still rely on older, legacy technology. These applications might work on a day-to-day basis but older systems do have a limited lifespan, which is why migrating to a more modern digital infrastructure is better for the long term. Some legacy technology can’t be used to build new digital services as the platform isn’t easily to update, which is why cloud services offer such a versatile solution for businesses.
Many businesses have rapidly adapted the way that they work and interact with their customers in the past few months. Whilst some changes may only meet short term needs, others will be beneficial for the long term future of the business.
It is clear that there are many core business considerations to make before embarking on a digital transformation journey, but cloud technology enables businesses to drive significant change by providing a flexible platform for future growth.
Could the cloud help you on your digital transformation journey? Get in touch with our team of experts today on 0800 612 2524.