All organisations talk a good game about achieving digital transformation, but it’s a daunting task. While the goal is to fundamentally improve how the business works, it doesn’t happen overnight and requires a great deal of patience and planning to execute. At the same time as investing in new infrastructure to deliver this, IT is under constant scrutiny to prove ROI.
The fact is that “good enough” IT is not good enough anymore. Organisations must be more efficient, nimble and data-driven to take advantage of business opportunities in a competitive landscape. Modern technology upgrades can also drive costs down, help companies scale and provide better insight into resource usage.
However, digital transformation involves much more than just technology, and success with it is as much about a culture shift as anything else. With this in mind, and with IT leaders frequently being measured on their success with the digital transformation agenda, building a new culture is quickly becoming an important part of the role.
This means IT leaders need to go beyond setting the technical agenda, they also need to set the tone for the shift – by educating professionals, modeling a new approach to leadership, as well as embracing disruptive and innovative ways of thinking. Yet cultural change is always difficult. It involves the buy-in of a range of internal stakeholders, and requires resilience and planning to succeed. Nevertheless, there are some guidelines that can help:
Customers come first, always
“The customer is always right”, Harry Gordon Selfridge claimed back in the 20th century, when consumerism really came into its own. However, this “obsession” over customer satisfaction is one that remains prevalent in digital transformation. When the customer’s happiness has such an impact on a company’s revenue, it’s no wonder they are a priority.
The first objective in the cultural change, is to focus on making sure that services are available when, and how, the customer wants them. This means pulling the customer insights from the business teams into the technology sphere, all with the aim of creating a resilient, omni-channel business that can be accessed by the customer’s preferred platform – whether that is mobile, online or even in-person.
On the IT end, it means making service downtime a thing of the past, looking at technologies that can keep the business online no matter what. A recent IDC and Zerto research showed that 93% of businesses have experienced a tech-related disruption in the last two years, and two fifths of disrupted organisations reporting a loss of customers (20%) or direct damage to the company reputation (19%).
All data should inform decisions – not just one department
With this desire for new services, and resilience in the ones that already exist, comes an increased demand and expectation for fast results driven by data. This creates a need for streamlined, agile workflows across departments to support continuous development of services and applications that support customers needs.
Meeting this need for innovation and insight also requires unprecedented levels of collaboration between all departments in an organisation, which is easier said than done if your teams are siloed by product, or solution, and you have a large number of sub-groups within this. For example, if your IT team is split into storage, backup, network, application and infrastructure groups, it will be near impossible to create one comprehensive picture of what technology you have doing what, where in your organisation. This type of siloing can be detrimental to an agile, data-driven business.
Adopting converged mobility tools and solutions that work across traditionally siloed departments can add flexibility while changing the way that IT traditionally works. IT leaders can use this to accelerate cultural change as well as supporting IT teams and the business as a whole in continually challenging the status quo, experimenting often, and getting comfortable with any type of disruption.
Keep your eyes on the horizon
All this planning for a multi-channel environment, likely built across many clouds, must not detract from embracing a culture that consistently looks to solve tomorrow’s problems rather than just today’s. This means encouraging professionals from any department to proactively work with the IT team to try new technologies as they appear, to see if they can provide even better services for customers.
However, critical to this is making flexible, vendor-agnostic tools a central part of your IT infrastructure – for example, ones that can work moving data to, from and between the cloud platforms of today, and are vendor-neutral enough to adapt to the platforms of tomorrow too. Only then will businesses be able to plug and play new solutions quickly and effectively when they appear.
While technology forms the beating heart of every digitally transforming organisation, it alone is not enough to succeed with the utopian vision of agile, responsive, customer-centric business. Achieving this requires embracing a culture of change and collaboration, and delivering on the customer’s needs, before they’ve even thought of them. By developing such a culture, supported by IT, an IT leader can be confident in the success of digital transformation, driving enhanced revenue, increased customer satisfaction, and a more resilient organisation that can navigate the twists and turns of a rapidly evolving technology landscape.