Digital transformation – A powerful force
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change” (Charles Darwin).
Charles Darwin might not have had much to say about digital transformation in his day, but his statement is as valid now as it was during the 19th century. The way we do business is changing at an unprecedented rate, so only those companies that embrace change can hope to thrive.
Digital transformation – more than a buzzword
The world is becoming increasingly digital and the format of business transactions is changing radically. At its most basic level this change can be seen in shopping patterns – where once we walked to the local shop and paid with cash, now we routinely carry out our purchases using the internet with no human interaction or physical cash changing hands. This would have been unfathomable 40 years ago, although the change has gone way beyond this, of course.
Digital transformation is all about using technology and IT to fundamentally transform the way we do business. It’s about rethinking business processes from the bottom up – what do customers, suppliers and stakeholders expect from your business in terms of service delivery and interactions, and how can you provide that? These expectations are constantly changing so there are serious negative implications for companies that stand still:
“At least 40% of all businesses will die in the next 10 years… if they don’t figure out how to change their entire company to accommodate new technologies” (John Chambers, Executive Chairman, Cisco Systems).
Technology plays a crucial part in businesses’ ability to remain competitive, evolve and continue to offer the best possible service to customers. Digital transformation is about reviewing all business functions and working out how digital technologies can enhance processes, meet changing business and market requirements and add value to customer interactions. For many companies it’s a matter of survival – if close competitors are embracing technology to transform operations, and it’s working for them, how can you remain competitive if you don’t do the same? Should you be matching what your competitors are doing, or doing it slightly differently (and, perhaps, better)?
A note of caution - transformation cannot take place in isolation
What often stands in the way of real IT transformation is that it affects all aspects of a business. Trying to transform from the top-down without bringing the rest of your organisation (including suppliers and external stakeholders) on the journey with will doom it to failure. It requires input and buy-in from everyone who is involved in the business – from the CEO, to customers, suppliers and all staff (after all, those on the coal face will be the ones who must work in the changed environment day-by-day). And this is often the first hurdle that causes transformation projects to falter.
Stumbling block #2
Even companies that have developed a digital transformation strategy that is viable and agreed on by the entire organisation have one more mountain to climb. In these competitive and uncertain times many companies are focused solely on keeping afloat and don’t have the resources and capacity to allocate to the crucial task of ensuring that their IT infrastructure can support the change they are implementing. Not surprisingly, many companies are moving away from on-premise IT infrastructures having realised that they are not adequate to meet the demands of the transformation they are undertaking (and don’t offer the room for growth in line with changing requirements). They realise that they need to find a more agile solution to facilitate change and often look for a partner to deliver a hybrid IT strategy combining public or private clouds with secure storage in an off-site facility that is agile, scalable and efficient. Many transformation projects fail due to the sheer enormity and complexity of the process, which is why working with a trusted partner can be invaluable.
Transformation can be daunting, but it is the future, which is why we are proud to be sponsoring the digital transformation category at this year’s Wirehive 100 Awards and celebrating the achievements of the trailblazing finalists.
About the author: Will Sargent is Account Director at Datum Datacentres, a provider of colocation and data centre services underpinned by a highly available and secure carrier-neutral environment.