The term digital transformation has been used for years. The Government’s firm stance on remote working as the pandemic continues into 2021 has only heightened the need for digital transformation. Transformation can no longer be at the back of business leaders’ minds – it is now a necessity, particularly as many office workers of all positions and levels do not want to return to working from the office five days a week again.
Even though the digital transformation journey is now essential, it is still a challenge for many businesses. For IT service providers such as CANCOM it comes naturally, but this may not be the case for businesses without the in-house expertise. An effective digital transformation journey may seem difficult, but businesses can set themselves up for success with the following steps.
Identifying base point
Before investing money and embarking on the journey, it is crucial to take stock and analyse precisely what is required by the business. What needs to be transformed, and how? Is it the technology itself, or would the business benefit from automating manual processes, for example?
The next step is to consider what, specifically, in the IT department needs to be transformed digitally. Does the entire infrastructure need to be updated, or is it just a few processes that would make the department more efficient and relevant to today’s working environment?
Assessing the environment in which staff are working is also essential. Of course, many people are now working remotely, or splitting their time between the office and their home. Investing in technology that is fit for purpose among today’s landscape is key.
As they say, failing to prepare is preparing to fail. First and foremost, analysis must be carried out to provide an overview of what is required and how.
Plotting the road ahead
Once it is clear what a business needs and how these requirements will be met, the digital transformation path can begin to be embarked upon.
First, we recommend laying out the transformation strategy itself, and the cloud adoption strategy (assuming cloud adoption is going to be part of the digital transformation of a business). The architectural design stage also needs to be mapped out here, essentially strategising which infrastructure, or new technologies will be built into a business’s system.
But also within this stage comes an important part ‘ building the business case. Without board-level buy-in and justifying the cost required to transform digitally, the journey ends here.
Plan. Build. Perform.
And now the final stage, the building of infrastructure and the eventual transformation of the business.
Key aspects of this stage include piloting the proposed transformation actions, the installation, configuration and stress testing of different technologies. This will hugely aid the eventual transition to the new systems.
Assessing and building in cybersecurity measures is advisable here too, as more devices continue to operate outside of the office. This naturally increases the cyberthreat landscape and the number of threats the business faces. Investing in endpoint solutions that protect devices in and outside of the office is critical.
And finally, once the business has been digitally transformed and new processes have been put in place, staff members must be thoroughly trained on the new systems, to maximise the capability of such processes. The success of the transformation lies in its uptake, and how well it is bought into and used by all members of the staff that it affects. To ensure thorough and broad adoption, businesses must place emphasis on change management. Buy-in throughout the whole business is crucial. Change can be challenging, but if it is embraced, companies will find that IT projects are far more successful.
As it’s not necessarily a tangible metric, it can be hard to measure the return on investment (ROI) of the transformation journey and its success. However, numerous considerations can help determine what the ROI is.
Firstly, setting out objectives for transformation – it could be to improve the customer experience, the company’s infrastructure or staff productivity, for example. Secondly, outlining the costs of implementing the transformation strategy is essential ‘ as is knowing what the outcomes of that financial outlay are. This will provide a reference point and clear performance indicators when measuring ROI.
Of course, setting realistic goals is important in the first place; stage one of the journey, discovering and assessing, should provide guidance on setting achievable targets. And when implementing new systems, agreeing on metrics early on will make success measurable. For instance, if trying to improve end-user experience, tackling common pain points experienced by external parties such as slow load times and application response will help reach the overall goal. If IT systems offer a rapid response, end users won’t feel frustrated by the operating system.
It’s vital to focus on staff training, especially the people most likely to be interacting with the new tools and systems once in place. It would be a disaster if goals, such as increasing productivity by a certain percentage, weren’t met because employees weren’t maximising systems to their full potential through a lack of knowledge.
And finally, as with any other aspect of a business’s operations, never stop measuring! Continually measuring the ROI will give a holistic view of what areas need to be improved ‘ and help justify the initial investment.
Prioritising the end-user
We have entered a time where digital transformation should be a company’s top priority, not only for growth, but for survival. It must be part of a business’s plan to adapt and operate in the digital world. While initial steps may be confusing, sticking to a tangible plan and the key principles will streamline digital transformation for your business.
Ultimately, businesses must prioritise the end-user. Even the most dynamic and elaborate IT projects can fail if the end-users’ experience isn’t taken into consideration from the first stage of planning. Transformation, at its core, is about growth and is therefore vital for business continuity.