Digital transformation: business first, technology second


Digital transformation promises to disrupt every line of business from operations to sales, but for organisations to reap the biggest benefit from modernisation – the undertaking needs to be properly thought through. This includes identifying the business objectives, and evaluating the company’s current limitations and obstacles. Without prior planning, any digital transformation project will be at best, over complicated, and at worst, wildly over budget.

It is paramount that organisations remain focused on the goals they aim to achieve, rather than just the technologies they need to achieve them. All too often, CIOs can get caught up in trying to adopt the latest and greatest innovations, without identifying how this innovation will deliver business benefits.

>See also: The digital transformation of things

As a result, it is essential that CIOs are able to justify how every piece of software and hardware contributes to the wider business objectives, as well as calculating the return on investment.

Are you going my way?

Before pursing any digital initiative, organisations must understand what infrastructure they have in place. Part of gaining this understanding will involve conducting a detailed assessment of the software in use, to identify how it aligns with their present and future needs.

This is important, because organisations may find they are paying for applications they no longer need, or have multiple solutions for the same task. Conducting a software assessment is particularly important in the age of cloud computing and on-demand services, as often companies lose clarity on the applications that run in the cloud.

Given that cloud computing is a key component of the majority of digital transformation projects, many CIOs choose to invest in cloud management solutions to overcome this issue.

>See also: Digital transformation failure is a business failure 

This not only manages, but optimises a cloud environment – providing visibility into the services running on virtualised servers. With a firm grasp on their software portfolio, CIOs will be in a much better position to make targeted procurement decisions that support digital transformation projects.

Changing shape to shape the change

Once a company understands the software it has and how it’s used, they will be able to identify what additional solutions they need to support their digital transformation. It’s important to acknowledge that it’s very rare that adopting and implementing new digital technologies doesn’t cause disruption, so these risks need to be weighed against the expected benefits and shared with employees.

For example, rolling out a new email application may mean employees temporarily lose access to their inboxes, restricting their ability to communicate and reducing their productivity.

>See also: Preparing your business for a digital transformation

To minimise disruption and void periods, businesses must prioritise implementations based on their impact. A clear timetable for digital transformation ensures everyone in the business is on the same page and drives adoption – with employees more likely to buy into well prepared projects. It’s crucial that everyone in the business is part of this undertaking, as it’s the only way to build the right environment to foster digital transformation.

Know your limits

Given the complexity of modern IT infrastructures, digital transformation can require specialised skills to carry out successful initiative – from re-architecting legacy applications, to implementing identity management protocols.

As a result, it is often the case that a company will not have all the expertise needed in-house to competently and cost-effectively complete digital projects.

Therefore, companies may require the assistance of outside experts with experience in digital transformation. After all, value doesn’t come from surveying the market to find the right solution, it comes from adopting the solution properly and boosting productivity as a result.

>See also: Digital transformation is just business transformation

There are no discrete start and end-points to digital transformation, instead it’s an ongoing, changeable process. As such, businesses need to consistently review the technologies and processes they have to assess the value they provide the company.

CIOs must be able to demonstrate the value that digital transformation has in terms of achieving wider business objectives – beyond just the IT department. For digital transformation projects to succeed, organisations need to remain focussed on the aims of the project and the role of the company in the future, as this will dictate the strategy they need to build towards it.


Sourced by Alex Dalglish, head of Technical Services, COMPAREX UK

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...