Telstra Purple is a technology services business with a team of 1,500 technology experts across the globe specialising in network, security, cloud, collaboration, software, data and analytics, and design. Bringing together Telstra Enterprise’s business technology services capabilities and a number of recently acquired companies, Telstra Purple was set up to solve the myriad of issues businesses face when undertaking a digital transformation project. It is focused on outcome-based, transformative tech solutions.
Whilst digital transformation is the strategic priority for most businesses today, there are a vast number of opportunities as well as stumbling blocks to consider at the planning stage. The proliferation of new technologies, the migration to the cloud, increasing volumes of data and the rapidly evolving cyber threat landscape makes it an ever more challenging headache for business leaders. Cloud, the foundation for the agile business world, allows organisations to scale infrastructure as needed to support changing business priorities and host new digital services.
Getting cloud right is a critical part of transforming a business, but it isn’t easy.
Telstra’s 2019 “Disruptive Decision-Making” research report looks at the challenges IT leaders face today when making the right decisions on how to approach digital transformation. It reveals that despite what many people think, most businesses are still in the early stages of digital transformation. The report also reveals that the most digitally mature companies are set apart precisely because they are more likely to focus on people and processes than technology.
Resistance to change
Successful transformation initiatives must of course be underpinned by the foundational technology pillars of cloud, security and networks, but it is never solely about the technology. Technology is redundant without people and purpose. Any new business transformation project must begin with a proactive and adaptive culture across the organisation – embraced by the board, business leaders and employees.
Yet, it is reported time and time again that the biggest challenge with any transformation project is organisational resistance to change. Apart from having the technology skills and responsibility for driving new growth, entering new markets and innovating, IT leaders are now expected to play a critical role in influencing mindsets and steering new workplace behavioural practices. As part of this changing nature of their roles, CIOs often face and have to deal with conflicting advice, resistance to change and poor decision-making from across the business.
“Technology is driving massive change in business, more so now than at any point in my 24-year career,” says Matt Williams, Telstra’s Head of EMEA. In EMEA, Williams has considerable experience of working with leading organisations through their transformation journeys. “We’re seeing enterprises increasingly grapple with what this level of change really means, and how it impacts their business.”
People, purpose and technology
Coupled with this, as business and technology becomes even more connected, CIOs are starting to take ownership of new disciplines. According to The 2019 State of the CIO research, 77% of responding IT leaders plan to devote more time to business strategy over the next three years compared with transformational work (74%) such as implementing new systems and architectures or functional responsibilities (58%) like security management or cost control initiatives.
Telstra’s Disruptive Decision-Making report investigated how the four key factors of people, processes, technology understanding and partnerships contribute to organisations’ decision-making ability and effectiveness in digital transformation. Many companies that struggle digitally are those that lack visionary executives who are clear on what needs to be done for the business as a whole. Business leaders need to take a step back for a broader, objective view. Only once business goals are defined, can a coherent technology strategy be built.
The focus on people and the broader culture, which enable any successful transformation, is deeply rooted in Telstra Purple’s approach. It’s also a subject that resonates deeply with Adrian Spink, Head of Telstra Purple in EMEA.
“It’s all about the people and those people bringing purpose to technology,” states Spink. “Despite my background, I’m not a huge fan of the term ‘consulting’. It’s too broad – and dare I say – smacks of slick presentations and boilerplate reports. We have very strong capabilities in the advisory space, of course, as well as in working with some of the largest enterprises in the market.
“But really, we are a people-first services company. We deal in digital and technology transformations, but you simply can’t do anything in the world of technology today without a massive focus on people and culture. CIOs, employees and the board need to come together, and Telstra Purple is experienced in making it happen.”
To support this ‘people-first’ effort, CIOs should look to create a cross-departmental team of ‘digital natives’ – individuals who exhibit traits like cooperation, openness and self-motivation who will support the culture of change and help others in the organisation to recognise the benefits too. They must also continue to oversee the adoption of a measured and considered approach, counter-balancing new technologies and ways of working with information security implications and risks.
Creating strong foundations: cloud, network and security
Telstra’s Disruptive Decision-Making Report found that the top digital transformation priorities for senior decision-makers were security and protecting digital assets, followed by optimising existing technology in order to move faster than the competition.
For the majority of CIOs, finding the time for transformation projects is not easy when their day job is managing the essential infrastructure pillars of cloud, network and security. These elements are the foundations that allow a business to scale, host and deliver new digital services and applications across the globe and are complex and time-intensive to get right.
Just getting security, privacy and compliance right is a full-time job, with more than half (52%) of organisations in EMEA experiencing a security attack in 2019. This was a finding in Telstra’s 2019 Security Report, which is based on interviews with around 1,300 professionals across 13 countries. Thus, time is sucked into reactive work rather than proactive initiatives, meaning businesses have to take their eye off the prize and transformation projects are delayed.
According to a survey by the Harvard Business Review, one of the biggest hurdles to digital transformation is a company’s inability to experiment quickly, with more than half (53%) of senior executives maintaining that it is a key barrier of success.
Spink agrees: “It’s never just about the actual products or solutions being introduced. Pushing technology for technology’s sake leads to failure quickly. CIOs face the challenge of increasing operational efficiencies and delivering more consistent and stable IT performance to the business. But we have transitioned from a ‘tech-first’ approach to an environment today in which we see employee and consumer behaviour driving technology change. It’s more about using technology in an efficient way to bring about wider changes to the way business is conducted.”
Hire expertise to reduce threat and complexity
With deep expertise in cloud, networks and security as well as technology change planning, Telstra Purple’s point of difference is its multi-faceted approach to digital transformation problem solving. Fundamentally, the business draws on its technical knowledge and project management experience in deploying a well-planned transformation strategy that delivers against organisational and operational objectives such as cost saving, efficiencies and the ability to scale.
Based on decades of advisory and delivery experience, Telstra Purple reduces the complexity of choice and makes cloud easier to consume. Whether moving a single application or hundreds, Telstra Purple, helps find the right target operating model for each organisation, speeds up platform transformation and ensures a smooth and secure transition with minimal impact.
Matching the rise in cloud applications, the network becomes increasingly business-critical. The need to secure application delivery to a network of distributed enterprises and mobile workers produces a high-risk and complex decision-making environment that requires deep expertise. Telstra’s vast global network spans nearly 400,000 kilometres and has 2,000 points of presence connecting enterprises to the world’s fastest growing markets, especially in Asia Pacific.
As all CIOs and CDOs are aware, one consequence of the increasing use of technology by enterprises is the exposure to new forms of cyber risk. According to Williams, one consequence of the greater use of technology by enterprises is exposure to new forms of cyber risk. “The threat landscape is ever changing,” he says, “and there are still many organisations out there that have yet to invest in a permanent security executive or leader. We can deliver skills and expertise at every stage of the security lifecycle, working with businesses to help them set the appropriate standards and build out that intrinsic culture of compliance and security that’s necessary in their organisations.”
Spink adds: “Unlike many consultancies which offer ‘out-of-the-box’ solutions to very typical business-driven problems, our engagement comes in the form of close, collaborative partnerships. We roll our sleeves up and deliver, and that’s the big differentiator for Telstra Purple – we don’t just consult or offer a standard solution, we stand by what we promise. We consider ourselves a true partner and we work with everyone in the organisation to solve the challenge.”
Williams sums up: “Transformation strategy is so important. The expertise we have across our organisation means our approach is focused more on advice, guidance and the provision of purposeful, tailored solutions. To fully realise the transformative benefits, it’s essential to partner with companies that have deep experience in both the pitfalls of transformation projects as well as the recipes for success. Our difference is our focus on the people within the business and the purpose behind the evolution - it’s the people that give the purpose to any technology.”