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Digital transformation is not a new concept. It’s been unfolding around us and taking many forms, sending ripples of change through all industries. It’s happening fast and most people are unsure how to keep up. We’re at a point where the Internet and digital tools are mature enough that the improvements they bring to the table improve business processes and security.
The Roadmap for a Successful Digital Transformation
In the context of business, the need for digital transformation is urgent. It’s become a whole new ball game, where technological advancements are happening across the board, from management and automation, down to core operational processes and company culture.
Views on digital transformation have dramatically evolved among industry leaders worldwide. Many see it as a long-term investment. This explains the steady increase in spending pouring into tech upgrades and digital innovations, which will approach the $2 trillion mark by 2022.
The only question is if these efforts will deliver results.
When business shifts from tradtional manual models to newer, tech-oriented models, countless opportunities are presented. But threats and challenges are also expected to emerge. Executives and senior teams must look beyond the usual drivers of innovation, like enhancing customer experience and lowering operational cost, and look into the realm of agility, efficiency, and security to stay ahead.
Whether it’s a gradual shift or full-blown transformation your company is gearing up for, these three levers will bring a true digital change that yields long-term returns.
The Three “Secret Sauces” to Agile Innovation
Agile innovation has effected a wide range of industries, functions, processes, and people. A Harvard Business Review report suggests that this radical approach is not only driving profitable growth but also creating a new generation of skilled general managers.
But what does it mean to be truly agile? What does it take to achieve long-term business agility?
Put simply, the agile approach is the opposite of the command-and-control style of management or bureaucratic model where decision making takes longer because there are multiple channels of command to go through. It requires implementing a new set of values, practices, and principles that will enable an organization to adapt quickly to changing conditions. This has three essential qualities: adaptability, flexibility, and balance. These three qualities allow for innovation in functional processes, increase in cross-departmental collaboration, and continual elimination of waste, low-value products, redundancies, and other impediments to growth.
Agility, however, is not for everyone.
The world’s top disruptors don’t have a similar blueprint for becoming agile, but one thing they do have in common is that they operate in highly dynamic environments. They come from different sectors of the economy, from analytics and machine learning to ride sharing and healthcare, and their common goal is to turn new technologies into profitable business models and grab their piece of the market share. These are companies putting the agile model to good use.
An extensive study by Bain and Company outlines the right conditions to adopt an agile model that’s likely to succeed, these conditions include:
- A market environment where customer preferences and behaviors change frequently
- Customer involvement is high and rapid feedback is feasible
- Problems are complex and demand cross-functional collaboration
- Creative breakthroughs and time to market are vital
- Incremental developments are expected because customers will know better as the process progresses (i.e. software)
- Individuals and teams are motivated to initiate, support, and commit to projects
- A majority of the company chooses to adopt agile methodologies
Reinventing the Operational Model for Greater Efficiencies
Organizations know where they want to go. New or old, most companies strive to be more efficient, profitable, agile, and quick to adapt to change. Unfortunately, being in the right place at the right time to start a digital transformation is not enough.
More often than not, companies have big ideas, but they fall short on people, know-how, and resources. As a result, new programs don’t provide sustainable gains.
When a company is ripe for a digital transformation, high on the list of questions should be, “Should we adopt an in-house strategy or outsource these efforts?” There are right conditions to leverage the outsourced operating model as there right conditions to choose an agile approach.
The Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City is a great case in point.
When the Kauffman Center’s small team of 30 full-time employees turned to NetStandard’s managed IT and hosted software solutions, its operating ecosystem transformed from reactive to proactive. As home to the area’s top performing arts groups, the center’s staff should be able to communicate reliably and quickly to ensure a great experience for their over 1,600 patrons. With a fully-outsourced IT team implementing enterprise-level technology, the center now benefits from a unique voice and data communication strategy that brought all their core operations together. As a result, the center’s small team is able to run shows smoothly and has saved over $600,000 in operational costs over the last three years.
Outsourcing specialized skills and functions, like IT, human resources, or financial services, not only helps businesses minimize risk and costs, it also allows employees and senior teams to focus on their core responsibilities. Responsibilities like maintaining strategic advantage and enhancing customer experience. It also leaves plenty of room for innovation to manifest within core teams.
Adopting a Culture of Security from Top to Bottom
Security should be a core focus in an age of rapid digital transformation. While it’s always been in the company rulebook, it’s rare for some businesses to embed a “security culture,” or even set of best practices, into everything their organization does.
And now that the threat landscape is getting bigger and bolder (see: NonPetya), organizations must adopt a more deliberate and disruptive approach to security. This entails having a set of actions that fosters change and generates long-term returns by utilizing a sustainable culture; not just a response to a single event.
The ideal result is that when employees are left to their own devices, it’s natural for them to be aware of the vulnerabilities of the system and the consequences of each action. They won’t click on an unsafe link from the company’s network or talk about highly sensitive information among their peers. This isn’t easy to pull off, even in top tech companies, like Google, Microsoft, or Apple. But to expedite the process, employees at all levels must be aware that security is a mandatory policy with a possibility of retribution and reward.
In other words, companies must invest in and give equal importance to security as they do with client retention, efficiency, and resources management, so much so that it becomes part of their mission and vision.
Security experts and executives know that in any system, humans are the weakest link. It’s easy to instruct a computer to anticipate, prevent, detect, and react to a breach. Humans, however, need a framework to learn the ropes of security. But it’s the duty of leaders to instill the concept that security is part of the company’s culture.
- Digital transformation is about the people as much as it is about technology and innovation. Leaders should effectively communicate their initiatives and get individual employees at all levels involved.
- A company’s culture and values percolate from the top down, so top senior executives and managers must place more value on their digital transformation efforts. CEOs should also give their CFOs an active role in pushing the financial buttons that aid the shift. CFOs are the ones capable of allocating capital and resources for IT investments, and protecting core assets while creating pathways for growth opportunities.
- A complex, fast-changing business ecosystem demands a more adaptive, creative, and resilient business model. To gain a competitive edge, businesses need to adopt a new set of thinking, values, norms, and behaviors and operate in a more inclusive culture and mindset.
Ready to Fully Realize the Digital Revolution?
NetStandard is here to help ease the pains of your digital transformation with our managed IT and hosted software solutions in Kansas City. Get in touch with us today.