In this post-COVID-19-crisis “new normal,” it might feel as though the whole world is gunning for digital transformation. But it’s not always the case for individuals, who may be loathe - for a variety of reasons - to work with even more automation. And how do we feel about digital transformation within IT? Ask any IT person what they worry about the most and, thanks to the anticipated additional workload, you’ll often hear “digital transformation” which is a shame. Because if used effectively, digital transformation can increase revenues and operational efficiency, eliminate functional silos, and improve the customer experience.
The “new normal” has opened the eyes of many to the need for digital transformation. But, if you still need help in getting people – especially IT management – onside with the need for digital transformation, then this blog is for you.
The current challenges that necessitate digital transformation
It’s often wise to start with the “why.” And beyond the need for corporate survival, the why of digital transformation needs to be looked at through a number of lenses because there are three main parts to digital transformation:
- New products and services (and the associated revenues) that employ technology and data
- Enhanced customer engagement mechanisms that again employ technology and data
- Improved back-office operations that better enable the delivery of 1. and 2.
Each of which will contribute to making an organization more competitive in a changing market. Then each can be associated with specific current challenges. For example, there’s the speed of innovation and new product delivery. Or having sufficient customer data and engagements to truly understand what customers deem to be valuable and, in this instance, a great engagement.
Then – and this is particularly pertinent in the “new normal” – the third element needs to address a number of challenges and issues related to the current ways of working. For instance:
- A disparate workforce, thanks to remote working
- Time lost due to paper processes
- Rework or duplication due to human error
- Delays and functional silos
- A heavy reliance on legacy systems or equipment.
And while IT will actively contribute to the first two digital transformation elements, after all it’s likely the main corporate provider of technology and data, there’s also the critical need to reinvent the way that work gets done.
The rest of the blog will focus on how IT’s input will help to provide an IT infrastructure and capabilities that support all three parts of digital transformation. And hopefully, the following four points will help you to convince others of the need for the technology change needed for digital transformation in the “new normal.”
#1: Retire or reduce legacy systems for better operations and outcomes
Some of the biggest costs pertaining to IT can be the maintenance of legacy systems and architectures. All too often, organizations customize a product and then build niche processes around it such that, over time, they become more and more reliant on that system over time.
As that reliance grows so does the cost of upkeep. Meaning that even the “keeping the lights on” costs can spiral.
We get it. Replacing systems can be time-consuming, complicated, and expensive but holding onto legacy services costs too and it can cause real pain. For example, support and new functionality could be limited (not to mention expensive) and integrations with other services can become more and more challenging.
Ultimately, removing or updating legacy systems means that users – in both the business and IT – will have a better experience, with systems that are easier to use and more cost-effective to maintain and improve upon. This positively impacts all three parts of digital transformation and the challenges associated with them.
#2: Manage IT complexity better through consistency
As corporate reliance on technology grows so does the complexity. Think about it, software, hardware, subscription services, etc. and then multiply that by the number of end users you have and that is one complex environment.
Digital transformation can help you pull all this together such that instead of a cluttered infrastructure you have a more consistent and integrated approach. Using cloud services, enterprise service management (or business process automation) tools, and application programming interfaces (APIs) can all help to create a less complex IT environment, with your systems and services better able to communicate with each other and to deliver superior outcomes.
#3: Deliver against a "transformation portfolio" ratehr than discrete projects
A transformation portfolio is something that will give focus to your digital transformation journey and help you to identify key areas and prioritize them appropriately. This is done by:
- Grouping pain points or action items into distinct projects. This will keep things achievable and will reduce the risk of scope creep.
- Prioritizing projects in order of business value such that you can address things by business need. When figuring out your priorities, it can be useful to use the same impact and urgency model that you use for incident and change management because it will have a consistent look and feel for people.
- Preparing the roadmap that maps out the prioritized projects and creating a schedule of work with defined timings costs and resources.
#4: Remember that digital transformation is all about better business outcomes (not technology)When applying digital transformation to a product or service the very first question you should ask is “What better outcomes are we trying to get for our customers?” Start with your desired outcomes and results and then work backward so that the customer result is front and center.
Also, look at your back-office functions and see what would help them. One example could be sharing your ITSM tool with your facilities team (what the industry calls “enterprise service management”). In addition to dealing with issues and queries, facilities and IT both have equipment ordering in common – so, share your request management module or create a custom one to help facilities automate equipment ordering and provision.
What would you add to this when persuading IT management to support digital transformation with technology change? Please let us know in the comments.