When the term “cloud computing” took the market by storm – it left a lot of people feeling rained on and confused. There were a lot of questions being asked… What does it mean for me? How does this impact my business? Do I need to forklift everything and move into the cloud to be competitive?
It really feels like the same is happening with the term “digital transformation.” It’s such a broad topic that can have so many impacts on a variety of organizations and use-cases. Much like a cloud, there is beginning to be more clarity into what it means to become a digitally-enabled organization. However, before we go on, it’s important to note that this trend is absolutely becoming a reality for many organizations. So, if you’re not on board yet – hopefully, this will help clear somethings up.
IDC recently predicted that digital transformation will attain macro economic scale over the next three to four years, changing the way enterprises operate and reshaping the global economy. This is the dawn of the “Digital Transformation (DX) Economy.”
“We are at an inflection point as digital transformation efforts shift from ‘project’ or ‘initiative’ status to strategic business imperative,” said Frank Gens, Senior Vice President and Chief Analyst at IDC. “Every (growing) enterprise, regardless of age or industry, must become ‘digital native’ in the way its executives and employees think, what they produce, and how they operate. At the same time, digital transformation is happening much faster than most expected and early competitive advantages will go to those enterprises that can keep pace with the emerging DX economy.”
Here’s what IDC predicted:
- By 2020, 50 percent of the Global 2000 will see the majority of their business depend on their ability to create digitally-enhanced products, services, and experiences.
- By 2019, 40 percent of all digital transformation initiatives – and 100 percent of all effective IoT efforts – will be supported by cognitive/AI capabilities.
- By the end of 2017, over 70 percent of the Global 500 will have dedicated digital transformation/innovation teams.
It’s clear that digital solutions are going to be impacting the market and all sorts of verticals. The big question is pretty evident – How do you become a digitally native organization?
Well, there’s good news. I’ve had the opportunity to work with a number of organizations who have asked that very question and are now on their own digital journey. And, that’s the key word here… journey. Become a digitally native organization isn’t like flipping a light switch; it’s not a binary process. It’s truly a journey that’s unique to your organization, your users, the services you provide, and your customers.
In my experience, here’s how we’ve been guiding the digital transformation conversation.
- Don’t let anyone else define your digital journey for you – you have to do this yourself (with the help of a good partner). You’ll hear digital being defined by vendors, manufactures, and industry professionals. Consider these to be more like guidelines to help you on your own journey. To define digital transformation means to look very deeply into your business, your users, and all of your processes. Are there legacy ways that you’re still doing business? Perhaps you have older gear in your data center that’s simple “working” and not really bringing you any value. Or, maybe you haven’t adapted newer virtualization technologies because you’re unable to move beyond an old app or data point. Or, maybe you’re trying to create a much more mobile workforce to support evolving business initiatives. These are all digital strategies as they are defined by you’re and your business. It’s truly a step-by-step approach where you analyze you organization, how your users are interacting with various processes, and how you can alter your competitive positioning with evolving digital solutions. The most important point here is that you take the time to define your own digital strategy. From there, leverage a partner which can help build your
- Involve every aspect of your business – users, executives, customers, and process. This is so critical. Major digital transformation initiatives revolve around the improvement of business processes. This can be back-end day-to-day tasks or the way you process orders and service requests. However, the most important part of your digital transformation are your people. You have to involve you users, your executives (to gain true sponsorship), your customers – and the entire process that ties all of this together. Organizations are looking at greater levels of automation. However, the only way they can get there is if they truly understand their business today, how your current processes operate, and where there can be improvements.
- Constantly remain agile and look to evolve your solutions. Digital transformation is just that… a transformative process. Where we were able to leave servers alone for long periods of time – just letting them run an application or a process; digitization takes a much more agile approach. The dynamic nature of the market requires organizations to be agile and shift with evolving demands. This means building a data center architecture which can change with the needs of your business and the market. This could mean dynamically provisioning resources on demand, or automating some business process to allow employees to gain more value.
- Digital solutions will involve levels of customization, but it doesn’t have to be complex or expensive. The most common theme I’ve seen around digital transformation is that it’s truly a unique process all around. Even two similar business could have completely different digital transformation initiatives. Yes – your journey will be unique. And, you’ll also need to define what it means to be a digital entity. However, there are amazing technologies and partners who can help you create the map to navigate today’s digital transformation journey. Your digital roadmap begins with a conversation… what can we do better and how can we leverage new technologies to get there?
Getting to a digital state doesn’t mean uprooting your entire business. In fact, become a digital entity means evolving your systems today to support new initiatives and capabilities. Just like I mentioned earlier, and digital transformation process can be as simple as introducing a big data engine to help you correlate data more effectively. Or, it could be virtualizing applications and creating a consumption-based model based on demand and access. The idea hers is that you’re improving your process, keeping up with demand, and leveraging new technologies to make life easier.
Remember, digital transformations happen at the physical and virtual layers. You may have an initiative that helps you remove legacy components from your data center, thereby drastically improving cooling and even airflow requirements. The point is that these types of projects will help you become much more agile, and ready to support new and evolving market demands.