Those in IT leadership, and the organizations they represent, face many, sometimes competing challenges. That's nothing new.
What does put those problems in a more contemporary context are the recent changes to commercial models, staff locations, supply chains, technology strategies, and market trends. You'll already be aware of those that most relate to you.
But even without a global pandemic, the IT organization is living through unprecedented levels of disruption - if this isn't the most dramatic chapter in the digital transformation era, it won't be far down the list. IDC predicts spending on solutions in the digital transformation space to continue at a solid pace rather than reacting to the challenges presented by the pandemic. Global spending will reach $6.8 trillion by 2023, at 15.5% CAGR, as organizations look to plot a course to whatever the future looks like for them.
Why so nervous?
Easy. Because major investments are a cause for anxiety at the best of times. They sit uneasily in an industry devoted to keeping things going. Organizations with systems and processes seemingly incompatible with the rapid growth, enhanced customer experience, or accelerated evolution of new-world business models, are reluctant to press "go" on anything with the potential to disrupt the everyday flow of work.
And here's the dilemma. They need to invest in digital transformation, but it must work from the get-go and not jeopardize operations already under significant strain. In short, organizations must run and transform at the same time. They need to be in it for now and for the future. But how?
Dealing with today and tomorrow
Whether thinking strategically for the long term (making plans to transform) or dealing with both ordinary and extraordinary, unforeseen situations that simply won't wait (like the pandemic), IT leaders rely on investments that worked yesterday and must do so tomorrow. For the organization to continue to thrive, these investments (covering people, processes, and technology) are foundational, immune to the most intemperate business climate. But how sound are those foundations? Today's questions include:
- How do we support today's additional internet-based operations and manage network traffic?
- How do I secure my data, communication, and collaboration with a more fluid, remote workforce?
- How can I ensure our employees, suppliers, partners, and vendors can access the apps and data they need?
- What is our data telling us about our current performance?
And the $6.8T question?
Those transforming themselves to meet ever-changing needs beyond the status quo will have a few questions of their own.
- Which new technologies will have a positive impact on how we do business?
- What new experiences are customers demanding, and how should we provide them?
- What fresh insights would shape our strategy, and where do we find them?
- What are the emerging business processes, protections, and operational tactics that will improve our performance?
- What is the likelihood of compromising the work we do today in the drive to be ready for tomorrow?
In a nutshell
And that is the digital dilemma, crystallized. Managing today and the future, simultaneously: balancing today's pressing needs against tomorrow's transformational requirement.
Building on strength
The first coming of digital transformation was, often, a rip-and-replace strategy. And it worked, for some. But not enough - 45% were "not satisfied" or "disappointed" when choosing a rip-and-replace strategy, and a similar number only managed a low ROI using this approach. It's a brutal process with inherent and, arguably, unacceptable risks.
Fortunately, there's a better way. By upgrading the previous IT investments that created the intellectual property (IP) on which the business now thrives, organizations can keep things running for the short term while also transforming to meet new opportunities. It's a less risky strategy that enables businesses to adapt more quickly with lower costs.
Chief information officers will road test any potential future IT strategy against four key objectives, or outcomes, as they digitally transform:
- Accelerate Application Delivery: Reliably scale Agile and DevOps across all environments, from mainframe to cloud, quickly bringing innovative ideas to life at the pace the business demands.
- Simplify IT Transformation: Simplify the complexity of IT operations and transform into an agile, IT center of excellence.
- Strengthen Cyber Resilience: Intelligently adapt your security to respond to an ever-evolving threat landscape and protect the organization's most important assets.
- Analyze Critical Data in Time to Act: Leverage advanced analytics and machine learning to transform unlimited data volumes of data into accurate, actionable, and automated insights.
Hit the mark for all of them, and your organization has built the foundation of large-scale digital transformation: a modernization initiative that leverages previous investments and current processes, lowers the disruption risk, and achieves a faster return on investment.
The phrase here is to run and transform, harnessing the power of technology and evolving work practices to support transformational change, to simultaneously address today's needs and tomorrow's emerging requirements. The digitally transformed company can create a unique business advantage of many moving parts. They will secure the data and communications of a remote workforce, support online traffic growth, integrate new technologies, and deliver personalized customer experiences.
Digital dilemma? Meet trusted solution.