Three blockers to digital transformation

Published 28/10/2019 by Gordon Wilson, Chief Executive Officer, Advanced

‘Tomorrow’s business: seizing the opportunities’ – that’s the theme of the CBI Annual Conference 2019 and it’s one we are really excited about. One prime opportunity is digital transformation – not a new phenomenon but something that organisations increasingly recognise as a deal-breaker.

A business might have a desire to invest in a  new technology to enable collaborative or mobile working for its staff, or it might want access to real-time information for greater forecasting or see how the latest Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology can eradicate inefficiencies.  Ensuring it is digital ready though is a must before any of these things will fly – and that will require the business to digitally transform.

It is exactly these issues and drivers that we will be exploring in this year’s Annual Trends Survey Report, which will also look at the continued and diverse appetite for technology from cloud software and services through to artificial intelligence, automation and predictive analytics. You can read last year’s results here.

What’s clear is that technology promises to future-proof businesses but the reality is that many organisations are still held back from seizing this ‘digital-first’ era. Why though?

Blocker 1: Distraction

With the media constantly feeding us with innovative technologies, it’s easy to get distracted. But this often leads to organisations adopting technology for technology’s sake – introducing digital tools because they are in vogue or because every other business seems to be using them.

Granted, there are a handful of technologies that all businesses can benefit from, but they must be considered with the same level of due diligence as any other significant investment. How will the technology fit into the overall business strategy, for example? How will it integrate into existing IT systems and how can the transition to a new system be smooth and uninterrupted?

Blocker 2: Modernisation

One of the biggest barriers is that many organisations are deeply entrenched in legacy systems. Yet it’s these systems that are unable to reliably support or integrate with modern applications.  You may be sick of hearing of the Cloud but, fundamental to a successful digital transformation and the future adoption of modern technology, is a sound Cloud infrastructure.

What’s more, their dependence on ageing technology creates unnecessary expense. Core legacy business applications, and the infrastructure required to run them, often consume a high share of a company’s IT budget. In fact, there are plenty of statistics which suggest that maintaining and operating legacy applications consumes anywhere between 60% and 80% of corporate IT budgets.

This is a significant amount of money that could be redirected to modern systems, bringing greater competitive advantage in the future. Business leaders need to think ahead, which means recognising that legacy systems are expensive and problematic barriers to long-term digital transformation.

Blocker 3: People

Successful digital transformation doesn’t solely depend on technology. It depends on people too. Any technology that businesses adopt will only be as good as their workforce’s willingness to embrace it. If a new digital tool is seen as a hindrance, the implementation will be a waste of time and money. It needs to genuinely boost productivity levels and minimise the level of administrative (and often laborious) tasks, allowing employees to do more of the work they love.

This is why it is essential that business leaders put in place a digital-first strategy that encompasses change management – an ongoing process that takes into consideration the pain points and different requirements and abilities of workers. This is where the younger generation now entering the workforce – who are typically digitally savvy – are invaluable. They are well placed to encourage and support those colleagues who are resistant to change or lacking the confidence to try new tools.

The bottom line is that businesses will only become digital-first if they invest in the right technology, people and processes. Focusing on just one or two of these is not enough. It’s time to act now because, in a future dominated by digital transformation, being left behind is not an option.

We’ll be launching our new Annual Trends Survey report for 2019/2020 on the 18th November at this year’s CBI Conference – don’t forget to read it here.