2020 will surely be looked back on as a watershed moment for the role technology plays in our lives, as well as in our enterprises. But even before the pandemic took hold, digital transformation (DX) was already becoming a critical priority across British businesses.
In 2019, IDC predicted that direct DX investment would approach $7.4 trillion between 2020 and 2023. In its Worldwide Digital Transformation Spending Guide, published in May 2020, IDC noted that despite the challenges presented by the pandemic, spending on DX technologies and service will grow by over 10%.
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The resilience of this market in light of greatly increased economic turbulence is a strong proof point for the importance businesses place on the need to digitise. Further to this, the Veeam 2020 Data Protection Trends Report found that almost one-third (30%) of organisations globally are in the early stages of implementing or planning DX.
Clearly, DX is not only a significant investment for the UK’s businesses, but a huge undertaking requiring clear objectives, strategy and buy-in at all levels. Understanding these challenges and breaking them down into smaller, more solvable problems can provide a welcome sense of perspective.
Managing resources appropriately
Of the so-called barriers to transformation, one of the most relatable is lack of time and lack of budget. According to our research, almost half (49%) of IT decision-makers in UK businesses said lack of IT staff skills or expertise is preventing or has prevented their organisation moving forward with DX. Other common barriers to DX cited by UK organisations include dependency on legacy systems (43%); limited budgets (31%); a lack of time (29%); and a lack of buy-in from senior management (26%).
There are a number of reasons organisations may feel they do not have enough time or people to execute on DX. Firstly, they do not have the available human resources to work beyond the day-to-day tasks which keep the business running. As organisations become more virtual entities with more employees working from home, and the output of a business ‘living’ in the cloud, keeping the lights on becomes an even more time-consuming operation.
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Secondly, businesses may not have the right skills onboard to execute a technology strategy aligned to their business objectives. While upskilling is a must, organisations will not gain value from doing so reactively. The pace of change is such that businesses must take a much longer-term view of where they want to be digitally and understand where best to invest resources at the right time. For instance, hiring a CIO when what you really needed a Sys-Admin or vice-versa can set this journey back.
Furthermore, IT skills within the business must be used economically. With the abundance of software available to automate processes like backup and replication of data, an organisation’s best IT brains can be put to much better use than performing these tasks manually. This time could be spent configuring cloud-based applications that will save employees’ time or reallocating data to more cost-effective storage environments. Doing so means businesses can look at increasing ROI from their technology investments at the same time as ensuring business continuity.
Data protection, security and governance
One of the biggest threats to business continuity is, of course, cyber crime – most notably ransomware. According to Sophos, 48% of UK organisations were hit by a ransomware attack in the last year, with 13% of them reportedly paying the ransom – which on average cost £635,000 per successful ransom. This supports our recent report, which found that almost one-third (32%) of UK decision makers saw cyber crime as a major challenge that will impact their business in the next 12 months, highlighting its importance on every CIO’s agenda this year.
Organisations should not view increased exposure to ransomware as a hindrance or a negative side-effect of DX though. As with any technology rollout, employees require training and upskilling to make the cultural transitions required by company-wide transformation. This includes education on dealing with cyber threats to ensure cyber attackers are not being put through to a business’s network via phishing links.
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Embracing Cloud Data Management as part of DX can, in fact, help businesses remediate and mitigate ransomware. This is where we come full circle and start talking about unlocking the power of data as well as protecting it. The data management industry often sees itself and is seen by others as a risk reduction.
What businesses must also focus on is unleashing the potential of its data by taking advantage of the flexibility and performance capabilities of hybrid IT. By managing resource intelligently and understanding where in-demand IT skills are best spent, as well as what tasks can be automated to free up human brainpower, organisations can reap the benefits of DX. Whether that’s enabling a truly remote workforce, driving new revenue through services delivered via the cloud, or consolidating cost.
While DX is considered a panacea rather than something that has a definitive endpoint, the positive outcomes organisations can achieve are clear. Cloud Data Management provides the foundation for UK businesses to unlock and use their data rather than struggle to protect and bury it. This is the first step to building a digital business that is fit-for-purpose in the post-2020 world.