How does your organization see digital transformation? As an opportunity for growth? As a threat? Perhaps a bit of both? One of the greatest challenges facing today's business leaders is the speed of digital transformation.Strategic planning is more challenging than ever because seismic changes are happening at a faster pace than anything they've had to plan for in their careers. A strength can quickly become a weakness. One key is to adapt quickly while maintaining a long-range view. Digital transformation can occur over a long period of time, so it is important for CIOs to help their C-suite colleagues maintain a big-picture strategy and integrated change. One term CIOs have used to describe this mentality is "mindful flexibility."
The good news is that a quality Managed Service Provider (MSP) can help your organization:
- Understand current benchmarks and best practices
- Anticipate changes
- Develop a strategic plan to make the most of emerging technology
- Implement those plans
- Scale for growth
- Manage costs
- Monitor progress and continue the cycle
There's an old saying, "the second mouse gets the cheese." For many challenger brands, there is an opportunity to scale and compete by customizing existing solutions such as Microsoft Azure, where other companies had to invest in proprietary applications that can quickly become outdated.
Many small to mid-sized businesses and even enterprise organizations are missing opportunities to leverage open-source applications, shared infrastructure, and other technologies. The CIO plays a greater role than ever in bridging the gap between executive leadership and technology in order to obtain a competitive advantage while staying ahead of competitors. With courage, foresight, and the right third-party expertise, today's CIO can empower the CEO. In some cases, he or she can transform technology from a source of drag to a source of acceleration. This will require a shift in thinking about traditional roles of both people and the technology they use in the workplace.
One key transformation is the switch from IT maintenance to innovation. This is another area in which a quality MSP can provide tremendous value by relieving in-house IT talent of mundane tasks and making more time available for innovation. Organizations need smart IT staff to develop custom applications, evaluate technology options, perform implementations and upgrades, and make time for other activities that create value for either the company, the organization's customer, or both.
IT leaders will also need more direct engagement with key stakeholders throughout the business in order to have a better understanding of various functions and how they can benefit from emerging technologies. Working together, they can turn a wish list into a road map that leads to meaningful change. Often the kind of change that provides a competitive edge, drives value for end customers or disrupts the competition can spring from these discussions.
There are several strategies that can help you engage:
- Educate: Create a digital transformation workshop to help educate your key stakeholders. But don't stop there. Create a learning culture that will keep your colleagues abreast of the latest technologies available to help them improve their areas of responsibility.
- Discuss: Seek input from employees, strategic partners, and customers in order to fully understand the needs, challenges, and opportunities of the organization at all levels. Done properly, digital transformation should enhance communication, operations, and collaboration.
- Benchmark: First develop a baseline. Then, study the activities of competitors or even organizations outside your industry that are creating the kind of innovation you want for your company.
- Plan: Develop your digital transformation strategy, beginning with a clear understanding of the mission and vision of your organization and moving through to the short- and long-term strategic goals of the company, along with its business model(s) and offerings. Make digital transformation part of the performance expectations for the CIO—and for the entire organization.
- Focus: The initial planning should quickly address areas that add the most value: customer experience, new products, re-engineered business models and processes, etc. Consider the ways strategic partnerships, acquisitions, or key vendor relationships can help you accelerate those innovations.
Technology, retail and media industries, in particular, have excelled at embracing digital transformation. However, manufacturing, transportation, healthcare, construction, and other verticals critical to our nation's economy have fallen behind. CIOs in these industries have the greatest challenge—to help their organizations learn to think differently, to act swiftly, and embrace change. These companies are often saddled with legacy systems, onerous regulatory environments, and an inflexible culture. They are by nature process oriented, and change does not come easily, even when that change can help create a competitive advantage and reduce costs.
From taking full advantage of big data opportunities, to developing effective strategies to prevent cyber attacks, the role of the CIO is more critical than ever. Digital transformation is fraught with danger, but it is also full of exciting opportunities. It is not an event or even a process, but a permanent shift in the way an organization thinks about its relationship with technology. A forward-thinking MSP, like Vology, can help you make the most of your digital transformation opportunities.