Although at different phases of the process, many organisations, of all sizes, are currently working through some kind of ‘digital transformation’ or ‘digital journey’. These changes are partly motivated by the natural evolution of technology, but also by the competitive nature of the market and employee or consumer’s demand for a quicker, easier digital experience.
The most impactful transformations can completely change the output of a company. Look at Netflix for example, a forerunner in its field and an early adopter of this digital journey, it moved from a ‘traditional’ mail-order DVD rental service in 1997 to the hugely successful online streaming service it is today. The business model and market Netflix left behind has faded to the point of almost non-existence, while the new streaming model has been adopted by many new competitors trying to take a part of this profitable market.
To make things even more complex, IT teams are expected to work on tight budgets and split time between both massive transformational activities and guaranteeing reliability from the IT infrastructure that supports the daily activity of the business.
So how can enterprise IT teams embrace the desire to implement bleeding edge technology while sustaining the systems that the organisation depends on from day to day?
Always start from the beginning
This seems like a logical statement, but it often isn’t translated into action with quite as much focus. The only place to start with any digital transformation undertaking is to understand exactly what the business goals are and what technology is needed to help achieve these.
This can lead to questions about everything from what technology is currently offered to how it can still be useful at the end of the transformation process and if a whole new infrastructure is needed to support the new business processes and outcomes. Another key part of this is evaluating what skills available within the IT team to determine if they can support the new technology that the business will ultimately come to depend on.
Once the business has a good understanding of the current architecture and its vision for improvements, it is easier to figure out what is needed. Does it make sense to invest in a whole new hardware set up or would it make more impact to bring in services? Is seeking outside expertise needed to support certain areas?
There are lots of things to consider and often not just one answer to the problem, but a firm grasp on what the end goal is will lead to a smoother, more successful transformation for everyone involved.
An MSP can become your secret weapon
One of the biggest challenges facing IT is managing the data and applications that are that employees spread across multiple sites depend on. Many enterprises also provide IT services across geographically dispersed offices and sometimes facilitate access for huge numbers of remote workers. Typically, this kind of IT infrastructure set up also comes with lots of vendors and partners to coordinate also.
This type of widespread, complex environment can present a great opportunity for IT teams to embark on a consolidation exercise while the business embarks on an overall journey. Not only does this make the IT architecture simpler with streamlined operations across multiple programs, devices and sites, but it minimises compatibility issues as new technology is added.
There are couple of ways an enterprise can reduce its IT vendor ‘footprint’, including by engaging with a managed service provider (MSP). MSPs supply organisations with expertise and new technology solutions, while bridging the gap between legacy and modern infrastructure. In some ways by investing in an MSP, a business is investing in an upgrade in communications and technology without the expensive overhead of new hardware and, perhaps, a larger in-house IT department.
MSPs can fill many gaps within a business, including picking up the functional jobs that keep a business moving, like outsourcing lines of support, networking and end point management – tasks that are important but often overwhelm the bigger, more business-critical processes. So rather than fire-fighting problems and constantly trying to keep up with IT housekeeping, the in-house team can focus on value-driving objectives like application development and play a vital role in the overall digital journey of the company.
Using an MSP enables an enterprise to feel as though it is working with only one vendor because one point of contact manages all areas of IT no matter how many different pieces of software are involved. Imagine the person who comes to fit the internet in the office is also the person on the end of the phone helping you connect the new business devices and the person on the phone fixing the customer’s connection problem – it’s simple and efficient.
Every business is at a different point in its digital journey, but ultimately all of them will have to go through the same tough steps to reach the promised land of digital transformation. With a detailed inventory, a great plan and often the support of a skilled MSP, the change can be as smooth as possible and the end result will have garner amazing results.
Matthew McGrory is group strategy director at Six Degrees Group