Do you really need to ‘transform’ to achieve your Digital Transformation goals?

Tonight Matthew, I’m going to be…’ were the words of contestants that appeared on ‘Stars in their Eyes’ before they were instantaneously transformed into another person, amazing. Like the process on this 90’s TV programme, the word transformation gives the impression of sudden or miraculous change. It’s exciting. Its big. Its bold.

Is that what Digital Transformation really is? A miraculous, instantaneous change?

The changes we’ve seen in the last decade have, to some extent been miraculous. Unprecedented at least. But getting where your organisation needs to be in the next 5 years won’t be an overnight, wave a wand, experience. It’s going to take strategic planning, a range of projects and an immense amount of work. And it’s going to take time.

There will be changes, not only, in the technology we use but adjustments in the culture of the organisation. There will be multiple projects and initiatives that need to happen drawing on internal virtual teams and outside suppliers. It’s probably a case of marginal gains with each completed task moving you closer to that overall goal of digitisation.

At ANS we have been part of many Digital Transformation projects, helping our customers reach that overall goal. So, we have asked our experts at the coalface what their top tips are when tackling Digital Transformation. And here are our top tips.

1. Step out of your comfort zone (it will be scary, but it’ll be worth it!)

To shape a future-proof digital transformation strategy, business leaders need to take a leap, but we’re not asking you to dive into the unknown. You should ensure you’re informed by insight and supported by a digitally inspired team. Successful organisations will embrace the opportunity to `digitally disrupt’ themselves in order to embrace change and lead the field.

2. Get the foundations right

A traditional view of the WAN as a pure connectivity solution is no longer relevant for organisations that want to support new applications and innovative ways of working. The requirements are so diverse and rapidly changing that, if care isn’t taken, legacy networks can drain resources as ongoing effort is needed to maintain the network. Over time, maintenance costs rise and organisations are forced to contend with complex upgrades and customisation while trying to keep systems aligned with business requirements.

Today, the entire network environment, from the Data Centre, to Cloud and wide area network needs to be viewed as a holistic system working in an integrated, resilient, scalable and secure way. It’s no longer acceptable to view the network as a commodity. Only when the network foundations are addressed, can the sector begin to embrace technologies such as mobile project management, on-site real-time data, integrated collaboration and cloud-based software.

3.Treat your data a spring clean

Legacy systems accumulate years of unnecessary data that can clutter new systems and slow down the migration process.

Data migration should be used as an opportunity to have a spring clean and eliminate the data your business no longer needs.

By undertaking a data cleansing exercise, organisations can begin to leverage big data and AI in the Cloud. If we take a look at the online retail sector for example, this could be an extremely powerful tool to enable them to identify which items a consumer has viewed on a website, what they’ve added to their basket, what has been deleted from the basket, the style and cost of the clothing and how they’ve come to land on the website, whether organically or from a promotional link on a social media site

Previously, silos in IT infrastructure and business functions have prevented the seamless sharing of insights across organisations. But with cloud infrastructure serving as a single source of truth, teams across the board can now be empowered to leverage data and hyper-personalise brand engagement to drive a unique consumer experience across channels.

4. What may have been best practice back in the day is no longer best practice now. It’s time for a rethink.

With newer, more efficient technology, the practices that have served you well over the years may no longer be quite as effective.

It’s best to start with the tried-and-true business processes provided by your software solution and amend them to your unique business needs as necessary. This approach is a better long-term solution than shoehorning old processes into a system that has outgrown them.

To illustrate the point, many organisations we’re engaging with at ANS are now turning to public cloud to enable emerging technologies.

Data analytics, IoT and AI are no longer just buzzwords or mythical technologies we only see in Sci-fi films. They’re real, business-enabling technologies that are now being brought to life by powerful, ubiquitous cloud-computing networks. But for every customer we’ve engaged with, this journey to transformation has meant throwing away the best practice rule book of 10 years ago and writing a new one which incorporates cloud enabled networks, DevOps and new ways of working.

5. Plan ahead to keep things moving

Planning ahead means supporting a culture of digital transformation from the inside out.

Your investments will not pay off without the full backing of your teams, so ensure everyone is prepared for new changes and feels comfortable with the digitally driven future.

You should also ensure that employees are trained ahead of time to minimise the learning curve once new solutions are introduced. Bear in mind, you can dev your way out of anything. Organisations should look at their operations to development ratio, or the ‘old world’ and the ‘new world’, as you might like to call it, and consider whether that will help to drive you forward.

Investing in completely new infrastructure is not at all easy, which is why many companies have instead relied on modifying older systems rather than spending time and money revamping technology. However, a business is only as adaptable as the technology at its foundation, and technologies like mobile, IoT, and artificial intelligence have amplified this statement.

Thanks to a heightened mobile fluency and popular consumer-facing apps, mobile users have great expectations for their digital user experiences.

Outdated legacy systems struggle to meet these standards, which runs the risk of losing customer loyalty, trust and business over time.

So there we have it, our top 5 tips for tackling digital transformation. If you take anything away from this, it should be that if you hear that phrase “this is how we have always done it” then, inevitably, it’s wrong and needs to change. We need to change not just what we do but also how we do it, irrespective of what the ‘it’ is.

To find out how ANS’ end-to-end solutions have enabled some of the largest enterprise and public sector organisations in the UK to deliver transformational services to their customers, view our Greencore case study here and Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital Trust case study here.

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