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By Adeel Omer
A prescription for organizations taking on digital transformation
We are in the midst of the era of digital disruption. If you’ve scanned the covers of any tech business journals published in the last couple of years, you’ve undoubtedly seen “Digital Transformation” become a recurring theme. As expected, this nebulous term has a hundred different meanings from a hundred different sources, but they all converge on the same uncontroversial trends: Societies worldwide are hyper-connected, data is growing exponentially, and technology is changing the way we work, live and play. Digital transformation, as it turns out, is as much a market dynamic – something that is happening all around us – as it is something organizations need to undertake, and this second lens is what I’ll focus on for the rest of this blog.
First, the ground rules. What is digital transformation? Simply put, digital transformation is the greater use of technology within a company’s products, services, and processes to increase speed of execution, deliver competitive differentiation, and ultimately improve the user experience of its customers.
Easier said than done, unfortunately. In a recent survey of our customers, although 92% agree that digital business initiatives are critical to their success and 53% say they’ve experienced significant disruption in their industry due to digital technologies, 48% have no idea where their industry will be in the next three years.
Digital Transformation Competencies
Across all the businesses – new and old – that we’ve helped transform for the digital era, it has become clear that there are three distinct muscles that organizations will need to develop in order to achieve the goals of digital transformation.
These three competencies are:
1. Establish a software-development culture: In the digital world, staying ahead of the competition comes down to who has the best product/service. If your product’s smarts come from software, you can continue to improve and iterate on it even after it’s in the customers’ hands. This means that in the constant race to lead the market, your advantage comes down to who has the best capability to develop and deploy software. This capability spans every industry – from manufactured goods like cell phones to automobiles, to online retailers and service providers.
2. IoT and instrumentation: Digital transformation relies on the ability for businesses to measure and quantify how their products interact with their customers and the environment. Getting information about product status, health and its usage can help organizations improve their products over time, identify problems sooner, and even deliver innovative business models on how products are paid for.
3. Derive real-time insights using data analytics: In the digital era, businesses need to maniacally focus on getting actionable data-driven insights. For this, they need the ability to store, manipulate, and analyze the data from a variety of existing and new, structured and unstructured data sources. Only then can businesses make in-time decisions that help them cater to the specific needs of their customers.
The Virtuous Cycle of Continuous Innovation
Here’s the fun part. The three competencies aren’t just picked at random. Each helps the other work better and do more over time. The software that powers your products and services helps you create smarter applications and devices. These in turn make use of the sensors and instrumentation to generate data, which you then aggregate and analyze to derive insights. And the way you act on those insights is by using software to deliver new and improved functionality to your customers through your apps and smart products. And this happens over, and over again in a cycle of continuous innovation.
An organization’s ability to execute this cycle faster than its competitors is what will set it apart for its customers. In other words, the faster you iterate in this cycle, the farther ahead of the pack you will remain.
Digital transformation is no longer a choice. Every business is dealing with a new kind of consumer – one that lives in a mobile-first world with short attention spans and ever-higher bars for being delighted. It’s also never been easier for upstarts to disrupt established, complacent businesses with the world’s best technology available for anyone to get as a service in the cloud. With such redefined rules of the game, you either disrupt (yourself if necessary), or you will be disrupted. The time is now to start on building out the right digital muscles and develop a strategy to help you on your path to digital transformation.
This is where Dell Technologies can help. Over the last few years, we’ve tried hundreds of approaches to enable our customers’ digital transformation. The result is an unparalleled ability to go beyond the hype and make it real for individual industries, public and government entities, and small and large businesses. This is what drives the innovative solutions, and expertise we bring to the table in order to simplify the complexity of digital transformation.
Most organizations were not born in the “digital age”. This means they carry the baggage of having to maintain legacy systems, operating models, and all associated costs when embarking upon their digital transformation. Spending most of their IT budget on maintaining traditional IT and applications severely impedes the business from gaining the speed necessary to compete in the digital era.
To free up budget and human resources and route them towards their organizational transformation, they must first undergo IT Transformation by modernizing and automating their infrastructure, architecture, and ultimately, the processes they have in place today. This will enable them to transition from traditional IT models to delivering IT as a Service that’s built on flexible, scale-out platforms that deliver transformative value to their business. For instance, moving to enterprise hybrid cloud has been shown to lower the overall operational costs for IT by as much as 24%, which frees up budget that can be shifted to fuel digital transformation.
In the digital economy, always-on connected devices have reset consumer expectations that businesses should instantly deliver personalized products and services. Simultaneously, these same consumers make up the workforce within those businesses, and they carry the same expectations of personalization, convenience and access into the workplace, applications and data, wherever that may be.
To unleash the potential of the workforce, organizations must remove the typical IT barriers of security concerns and management complexity and give employees the technology and access they need to be more collaborative, more productive, more of the time, in more places.
Doing so for your employees creates endless opportunities for businesses, such as finding ways to serve customers that once seemed impossible, opening the hiring pool to the best talent across the globe, and solving business challenges through the power of cross-team collaboration in innovative and effective ways.
Digital transformation means all business assets, data and intellectual property are also digital. Additionally, information now exists outside the physical boundaries of the data center flowing from smart devices and sensors at the edge all the way to the cloud. Organizations need to recognize the risk inherent in digital initiatives, understand threat potential in advance; know instantly when a breach has occurred, and when and what was lost. Most importantly, they need to understand the potential impact to the business and have mitigation plans in place
Digital transformation requires a new way of thinking about security. Transforming security means the business is able to let data flow wherever it can help the business speed up and empower the workforce, while simultaneously keeping that data secure. Security transformation ensures that the business always has superior intelligence and insight into threats and that security is seamlessly ingrained into IT processes and solutions without being obtrusive.
Obviously, there is no one-size-fits-all strategy for digital transformation. Each organization, depending on its industry, budget, risk-tolerance and ambitions, will need to chart its own path. But this path will invariably lead through a transformation of its IT, an empowerment of its workforce, and a recognition of needing to secure digital assets.
I invite you to learn more about the many customers we’ve helped on their digital transformation journey by visiting DellTechnologies.com. Let’s connect.
Adeel Omer is the Director of Marketing for Dell Technologies, focused on telling the story of our customers’ success and the blurring lines between computer science, IT, and the digital enterprise. When not automating his home, he prefers to row the Colorado River in his hometown of Austin, TX.