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5 digital transformation contradictions you should avoid

5 digital transformation contradictions you should avoid 

Consider this, 4,000 business decision-makers across the world have battle-plans to save their organization from obsolescence. However, many of these are riddled with contradictions. Based on the research findings, I’ve highlighted five major paradoxes or stumbling blocks. Avoiding these common pitfalls should help customers gain maximum value from their digital transformation efforts. 

1. Misaligned strategy

Nearly everyone agrees that digital transformation is an absolute must in today’s hyper-competitive marketplace. Almost three quarters concede that digital transformation could be more widespread throughout their organization. However, only 39 per cent have embedded digital across the organization to counter the threat from non-traditional start-ups.  

To become a digital business, you need to embrace business and process transformation, from top to bottom. Excelling in one area of the business just isn’t enough. The pressures to transform are coming from every direction:  customers, competitors, the C-suite and heads of department. Customers want faster, slicker, personalized services that require information-driven approaches across all parts of the business. Around six in ten businesses are unable to completely meet customers’ digital demands.  

Kevin Connally

2. Customer experience faux pas

The majority of companies (66 per cent) recognize that customers’ number one demand is better security, followed by faster access to services, 24/7 (65 per cent).  

Despite this knowledge, less than half (47 per cent) have built security and privacy into devices, applications and algorithms and 68 per cent confess that their organization could have more controls in place to mitigate the risk of serious outages. Consequently, only 39 per cent can meet customer demands for enhanced security and only two in five businesses are confident they can provide unbroken access to their services. Begging the question – how many businesses have protected their many endpoints with a centrally managed solution, can access a real-time picture of business risk and have the wherewithal to respond to cyber threats in minutes, rather than days, weeks or months? 

2. Data gaps

Almost a third of businesses think digital start-ups pose a threat to their very survival because they have the advantage of ‘being obsessed with data to preempt and solve challenges and inform R&D’. And yet 68 per cent can’t predictively spot new opportunities organization-wide and 64 per cent are unable to act on intelligence in real-time.   

No doubt, the deluge of data, brought about by countless connected devices as part of the Internet of Things, makes the job of managing data incredibly difficult.

The good news is 41 per cent are planning to invest in an information infrastructure that supports analytics, big data and data processing within the next three years. But how will the rest operate within a data-driven world while hamstrung by an inability to harness data for their own commercial needs? 

3. The agile versus the fragile

As part of our Information Generation study business leaders unanimously agreed that innovating in agile ways is a key attribute of a digital business. The problem is only 28 per cent of respondents can do this, while 41 per cent say that digital start-ups pose a real and present threat to their business because they’re more agile in nature and free of legacy technology. 

These revelations call into question the 66 per cent of respondents who say that they’ve embedded a digital way of working into the very fabric of their organization and are confident in their ability to compete with digital start-ups. 

Often, an organization’s inability to innovate in an agile way stems from an infrastructure that can’t support the proliferation of data. Couple this with society’s unrelenting demand for more power, performance, and convenience. 

This is mirrored in the 69 per cent of business leaders who say they are held back by too many traditional applications and the 73 per cent of respondents who admit that a centralized infrastructure should be more of a priority for their business. Fortunately, admitting you have a problem is the first step to fixing it. According to IDC, if businesses invest in a converged infrastructure they should be able to accelerate application development by 55 per cent. In other words, if they plant the seeds right, the harvest will be abundant. 

4. Show me the money

A third of businesses blame a lack of budget and resources for limiting their transformation efforts – unsurprisingly considering that most countries have experienced a deep recession in recent years. The irony is, companies can do more with less if they digitize their business and automate their processes. 

But with only 19 per cent of CFOs championing digital transformation and only 41 per cent of respondents crediting the Board with driving digital transformation, making digital investment a priority will be a struggle when there are already so many competing demands on the balance sheet. If businesses are serious about delivering against their digital strategy, they need to argue the case for digital, by appointing a strong digital ambassador to the Board and resourcing the demand appropriately. 

5. Next steps

These contradictions point to a more systemic problem – the prospect of embarking upon a ‘marked change in form, nature and appearance’ (the very definition of transformation) can be overwhelming.

So, where should they start? The answer is two-fold: by making software the backbone of their organization and data their lifeblood. If their products and services are software-based, they’ll be able to iterate and improve upon them constantly, even when they’re in customer’s hands, meaning they’ll always have control of the latest application code. While the ability to store, manipulate, and analyze data from a variety of existing and new, structured and unstructured data sources will help them make real-time decisions tailored to the specific needs of their customers.

To assess your company’s digital readiness, I’d encourage you to take the Digital Transformation Index survey. By understanding where you are on the spectrum, you’ll be in a better position to navigate the road ahead while avoiding the many pitfalls along the way.

Kevin Connolly is president of Dell EMC Commercial Canada.

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