By Shaun Reuben, Chief Sales Officer, Liquid Telecom South Africa
Let’s go back in time. The year is 2019. The IDC has said that the value of digital transformation is expected to hit $1.74 trillion by 2023 and Gartner’s survey of CIOs found that around 40% of CIOs were reaching scale for their digital transformation (DX) initiatives.
Still, in spite of the research and the statistics, some organisations remain reluctant when it came to their DX investment. Decision makers were uncertain of its validity, concerned about the risk, worried about the return on investment and concerned about the impact to the IT organizations. The seesaw between DX and legacy hummed back and forth.
Then 2020 happened. The Coronavirus swept the globe in a pandemic that has changed the world of work forever.
Organisations that were digitally transformed or that had invested into digital toolkits were able to slip into the remote working world with relative ease, troubleshooting only those technologies and security vulnerabilities that had never faced such rigorous testing before. Those that had hung on the fence were faced with one hard truth – transform now, or else.
The future faced by organisations is going to be vastly different from the one envisioned in 2019. This is largely due to global phased approaches to returning to work and opening economies with limitations around travel, socialising and business operations remaining in place for some time to come.
This long-term outlook has changed the digital dynamic from a short-term coping strategy to one that needs a comprehensive overhaul. The organisation needs a solid digital foundation so it can pivot and adapt to whatever the future may hold. It has to invest into digital transformation because one word has become all important in the face of the pandemic – resilience.
To achieve the resilience required to connect and collaborate digitally, globally and locally, the organisation needs digital toolkits. To deliver the resilience required to adapt to a landscape that’s changing on a daily basis, the organisation has to have a clearly defined digital strategy.
In the past, the risks cited by organisations when asked about DX were around adoption, security, cost and scalability, now the real risk is that an organisation is very likely to become irrelevant if it doesn’t.
If the employees cannot engage with the customers or do their jobs or connect and collaborate on digital platforms, then the customers will go to companies that can. Everybody is constrained by the virus; nobody wants to deal with more constraints as they move forward.
Yes, the companies that adopted the technology in time may well be ahead of the curve when it comes to DX, but that doesn’t mean that those who did not are too late. They’re just doing it later. There are solid steps that they can take to invest into a robust DX strategy that will give them the capabilities they need to thrive in the pandemic.
Step 1: Be strategic and resilient
Successful DX requires a measured investment into relevant solutions that meet very specific pain points along the way. Use this as an opportunity to develop a digital contingency plan at the same time, using a growing understanding of DX capability to refine how the organisation will cope in the future.
At the moment, COVID-19 has made remote working the priority so focus on technologies that support this. Invest into the hardware (laptops and mobile devices) alongside the software (virtualisation tools, SD-WAN, Software/Platform as-a-Service) solutions that allow for improved collaboration, connectivity and productivity.
Underpinning any solution should be a comprehensive security platform that traverses on prem, hybrid and cloud environments.
These tools do not only support the organisation in shifting to DX in a crisis but have long-term value in allowing for ongoing productivity and a measurable reduction in OPEX.
Step 2: Define your DX playbook
Building a DX playbook will ensure that your company is investing into digital solutions that will deliver the right results. It may sound trite, but there are plenty of square solutions being shoved into round holes because they have one or two features that are sorely needed by the business.
This can be avoided by working with a partner that understands digital and, more importantly, understands where digital is relevant to your business. The approach needs to carefully examine all aspects of the value chain in an organization to ensure that every process, technology and person’s value is carefully understood and re-evaluated. This will also allow prioritization of the most critical aspects to focus on.
Digital is not the great unknown. It allows for improved agility and flexibility, it increases transparency for employees and visibility for the executive, and it builds a bridge between business and people.
Digital transformation also opens new markets, identifies new products and services that could build sustainability in the long term. It may be an imperative today, but investment now will allow for your company to benefit from the crisis in surprising ways.
This article was published in partnership with Liquid Telecom.