Over the past four decades, organizations of all sizes have seen a significant change to how they do business, due to evolving technologies. And now, as we approach the end of the 2010's decade, the term “Digital Transformation” is abound and you might ask, "Haven’t we already done enough transforming?"
The answer is fortunately and unfortunately, "No." Each decade builds upon the last, often resulting in trans-formative, if not, disruptive new business models. Think about Facebook and advertising, Uber and taxi’s, Air B&B and hotels. This does not just apply to the big players either. If you are old enough to have been working in the 1980’s when the Internet and email were nascent technologies, would you be in business today if you had not integrated these into how you do business on a daily basis? I think you know the answer.
Figure 1: Evolution of Technology
So, what’s next? We have mobility enabled by smartphones, ultra-light laptops, cellular networks and WiFi and, there is more data than we know what to do with. In addition, our apps, like email and even line-of-business apps, are moving to the cloud; thus, the need to own and care for complex technologies is shrinking.
This is where the concept of digital transformation comes in. Yes, you do everything on computers, but are you leveraging technology to better connect with staff, partners, and clients? Are you using all the data you have and continue to accumulate to make better decisions and identify opportunities to innovate? And in a world of greater awareness of data privacy, how can you be transparent and trusted about your security and compliance with a growing body of regulations?
Businesses that figure out how to integrate new capabilities (made possible by the cloud) while innovating new products and services will be at an advantage in the coming decade. In the 1990’s, I personally saw a major competitor go out of business because they were unable to innovate and move their information (their only assets) out of file cabinets and into a database that then, could be used to deliver products electronically.
The “New” technologies you should be planning on integrating into your business are listed below:
- Collaboration: get business done faster. This means meeting face-to-face no matter where the participants happen to be.
- Share and co-author documents. You should never have to ask where the “real” version of a document is.
- Work as a cohesive team even if you can’t make every meeting or are an outside participant. Maybe you can even eliminate some meetings.
- Move workloads (email, document storage, line-of-business apps) to the cloud:
- End or reduce the cycle of capital intensive hardware refreshes.
- Only pay for what you need.
- Users get same experience no matter where they are.
- Always be on the most current version of the applications.
- Enhance availability, security and disaster recovery.
- Modernize your business processes and intelligence:
- Move your mission critical Microsoft Excel and Access apps you developed 10 years ago to a database to operate smoothly, maintain data integrity, and provide business analytics.
- There's a good chance you already have Microsoft Office 365 so, leverage the document management and workflow capabilities that are included to drive efficiencies in your business.
- Use business intelligence to mine the data you already have and link to external sources to provide key insights into your business operations and your customer behaviors.
- Enhance your Security and Compliance = Trust:
- Trust standards are not that far off. Soon clients and business partners alike will expect you to have a base level of security.
- User identities are now spread across multiple cloud apps. Secure these with multi-factor authentication and single-sign-on.
- Deploy mobile device and application management as you now have users and devices connecting from anywhere at any time.
- Implement written policies to provide governance over who, how, and where you work with sensitive PII data.
- Implement data loss prevention (DLP) technologies to secure sensitive data from potential loss due to malicious or accidental activities.
This is a lot to consider so, don’t do it alone. Find a partner that has the business insights to help you lay out a technology road map that aligns with your business goals and the experience to deliver on the promises of these technologies.
If you find it overwhelming, begin with a network assessment to understand fully where your organization's strengths and weaknesses lie.
Mark Benton, Director or Product Management at Systems Engineering, has over 30 years of experience working with and managing technology. Mark joined Systems Engineering in 2010 and his focus has been to develop and enhance cloud-based and security-based technology products and services.