Chris Fielding, Chief Information Officer (CIO), Sungard Availability Services (Sungard AS)
Today’s businesses don’t have it easy. They are constantly challenged to stay resilient during a time of unprecedented disruption, change and unforeseen adversity.
That means ensuring critical applications and data are always available, to keep the business ticking along no matter what may be thrown at it.
With cyber attacks on the rise and more employees choosing flexible working practices, that becomes increasingly difficult. Having the right IT infrastructure in place to help face this challenge is vital for business resilience. It is for that reason that businesses are looking at how digital technologies can help transform their operations, practices, working environment and security.
It’s predicted that worldwide spending on digital transformation technologies is expected to reach nearly $1.3 trillion this year.[i] Adopting new and emerging technologies – from cloud-based applications to online collaborative working – allows organisations to increase productivity, develop new revenue streams and improve communications with internal and external parties. But how can it improve overall business resiliency and ultimately, the business’ bottom line?
This was the topic of discussion at a roundtable event that I recently spoke at. Hosted by the Cloud Industry Forum, the event also included case studies from logistics and aviation business Menzies, and Dell EMC – who both shared their thoughts on how their own technology transformation programmes have been essential for facilitating data processing, supporting global growth and bolstering their overall resilience strategy.
What are the common challenges?
No business is the same and therefore every organisation faces its own unique challenges. Because of that, they will require tailored solutions when it comes to technology adoption and transformation. A business could have ambitious plans for growth, be transitioning from on-premise infrastructure to Software as a Service (SaaS) or be consolidating public and private cloud systems. Whatever the case, these competing priorities shouldn’t be achieved at the risk of keeping business resilience front of mind.
Whether you are grappling with legacy technologies or hybrid IT environments, it’s essential that you keep the wheels turning and maintain business as usual.
What’s the right approach?
There’s no simple answer to this question. Every digital transformation project is different and will require a unique approach to execution. There will be roadblocks along the way, but the secret to success is being as flexible and adaptable as possible.
However, despite this, organisations should not negate the importance of having a strategy in place beforehand. This will change, certainly – but establishing an initial plan of attack, and understanding that this will need to be executed in small steps and adapted at each pitstop, is crucial to the success of any rollout.
Key performance traits
IT leaders are the chauffeurs in the success of a rollout and can have a transformative effect on projects. Heading up an internal technology change a is a tough job – so what are the characteristics for success?
- Flexibility: having a solid vision is important – but being willing to listen, learn and adapt in the face of headwinds is imperative.
- A risk-taker: those with a risk-appetite are often those who come out on top; however, paired with a willingness to embrace risk in the adoption of new technologies, they will need risk-management capabilities – to build their overall resilience.
- Managing employee expectations: organisations need to be sensitive to the fact that employees may feel their role is threatened by new technologies or are worried they have the right skillset for new digital tools. Our recent research reveals that only 32 per cent of employees are kept up to date with the businesses digital roadmap; which shows that businesses really are running the risk of alienating their employees.
Getting employee buy-in for roll-outs will guarantee project success, so organisations will need to be prepared to address their concerns at every stage.
Transforming for success
For all the hardships organisations face on the route to digital transformation, those showing clarity and focus are the ones that will stay on course and end up on top. Digital initiatives and improvements should be the cornerstone of your resilience strategy and in the long-term will help you respond to the risks that come with the digital age. They can also have a direct positive impact on share price and profitability, placing you ahead of the competition.
It’s clear that constant innovation in an uncertain climate is no easy feat, and the transition process is still very much in process for most organisations across all industries. But, it’s a journey we’re all going on together, and by equipping ourselves and our people for the challenges ahead, we can identify strategic gaps to be addressed to reduce complexity and risk – and accelerate our success.
[i]Worldwide Semiannual Digital Transformation Spending Guide, IDC,