The “fourth industrial revolution” is well underway, but the UK currently only ranks 14th out of 140 major world countries for company-level adoption of technology.
With every aspect of business being disrupted – from products and services, customer experiences, to internal operational processes – it’s increasingly important for organisations to keep pace.
Digital transformation may seem like a daunting process requiring investment in terms of time, resources and budget, but it’s critical to success.
According to PwC’s 2017 Global Digital IQ Survey, the number of UK companies investing more than 15% of annual revenues in digital technology has more than doubled in the last year alone.
Robust, flexible and scalable IT infrastructure is a growing priority for many companies and the benefits of moving to a more digital business model are clear. It provides faster and more intelligent operations, reduced security risks and an increased capacity for growth.
>See also: Digital infrastructure is key to a thriving Northern Powerhouse
But how can you spend smart when it comes to improving current IT systems and operations? First, identify what your specific business needs and goals are to intelligently allocate IT budget.
Draw up a technology roadmap which aligns with your company’s overall growth strategy and encourage collaboration on this with senior management who manage budgets across other departments. You can then cross-compare where there are technology gaps in the company and identify if budget needs to be prioritised or reallocated.
Research has shown half of CIOs are concerned about shifting legacy data and systems onto the cloud.
However, when building a new digital model, it is important to get the balance right. Take an application-centric approach, thinking about how you can connect new and old systems to maximise capabilities, but also avoid getting rid of technology if it is still valid.
>See also: Digital Infrastructure is key to a thriving Northern Powerhouse
This is where cloud comes in. Cloud gives you the opportunity to build the ‘new’ in a separate environment. Importantly, as it is a pay as you go mode, it enables you to prototype at low cost. It also gives you access to new technology with which you can experiment, without disrupting your existing systems.
As you are unlikely to throw away your existing investments overnight, you should consider how you connect the new with the old. Some form of middleware, or data integration layer, will enable you to connect the two together, bridging the gap between the digital agenda and your systems of record.
According to Microsoft, 49% of employees express fear about digital transformation. Yes, moving to more digital platforms can seem intimidating, but it’s important change is driven by wider business objectives with IT as the enabler.
Ensuring digital change initiatives are adopted across the company in small, manageable chunks will make the whole process less daunting for employees. Perhaps encourage the more technologically savvy or early technology adopters to test out new processes and show others how they work across the business.
These ‘digital champions’ can help lead transformation on the ground and CEO-backed messaging will support greater employee-buy in by helping staff see the bigger business picture.
>See also: UK Gov’s Digital Infrastructure Fund will leave ‘majority’ of the UK behind
Communication is key. Sitting different teams down and explaining as simply and clearly as possible how changes will impact their day-to-day job, will make digital change less scary and enable employees to get answers to any questions and have concerns addressed before they escalate.
Technology moves quickly and the skill sets in your workforce must too. Don’t rely on ‘fixed’ traditional job titles and hierarchies. Encourage a culture of collaboration and get people to share their knowledge. Whether it’s through in-house workshops, group presentations or one-to-one training, this will drive learning across the business and enhance digital awareness and expertise amongst employees.
Cybercrime is predicted to cost the world $6 trillion annually by 2021. With shocking statistics like this, you may question just how you can adequately protect your important IT assets.
While no one is 100 percent safe, there are many easy ways you can increase your cybercrime resilience. Surprisingly, it’s some of the simplest things that can get missed like keeping up to date with patches, configuring devices so they can be tracked and remotely wiped if lost or stolen, installing the latest anti-virus software or making sure all devices use encryption. These tactics are invaluable when implementing ongoing, permanent safety measures.
Don’t neglect perimeter security of course, but it is essential, as we open up our networks to BYOD, IoT and a load of other acronyms, to build security into our networks at the core. This means ensuring patches are up to date, segmenting your network, and obfuscating access behind application delivery controllers.
>See also: Accelerating digital transformation with effective data infrastructure
User privileges must be managed sensibly. If all users are granted unnecessary data access rights, this will leave you vulnerable. Employ the principle of ‘least privilege’ and only grant high access privileges when essential and only for as long as it takes for a specific task to be completed.
Embed a risk management regime across the business which is actively supported and communicated by senior teams. Having a board-level member of staff or someone in the c-suite leading the conversation makes everyone aware of best-practice to prevent cyber risks.
Digital transformation needn’t be daunting. If businesses approach it with realistic expectations and invest sensibly in your current infrastructure, the opportunities are endless. Don’t just simply ‘survive’ with a patchwork of outdated IT systems – it’s time to thrive.
Sourced by Sam Routledge, chief technology officer, Softcat