By Joe Garber, Vice President of Strategy at Micro Focus
What a difference a year makes. Twelve months ago, not many would have predicted that a global pandemic would surface as further incentive for organizations to prioritize digital transformation (DX). But the many events of 2020 have brought some clarity to how DX can help organizations adapt more quickly to evolving market factors and ensure continuity of business.
The critical importance of DX to business resiliency
Examples abound of challenges that organizations had to overcome since the beginning of the calendar year, including:
- Rapidly changing business and workforce models: The emergence of “stay at home” orders drove a rapid change to how and where we work. Without a face-to-face customer experience or an on-premises workforce, many organizations had to innovate and do business virtually.
- Surging network demand: When commerce and workforce models shifted online, the need for increased network capacity spiked.
- Increased security and data privacy demands: That shift online also brought an increased attack surface—such as more endpoints and unofficial channels—and along with it new risk. The need to protect important data, privacy, and intellectual property became even more difficult.
CIOs have reported that those who previously prioritized DX were able to adapt to these unexpected challenges more effectively. Moreover, in a recent worldwide survey of top IT decision makers*, the number one priority spurred by a COVID economy was further investment in DX—with almost 40 percent stating that they prioritized initiating their DX journey as a result of the pandemic, and 60 percent hoping to make these changes in the next 12 months.
There are many reasons reported for this spike in DX prioritization, and why IT executives are now accelerating these investments as their organizations face further uncertainty. Three of the most commonly cited benefits of DX, in terms of protecting the business and setting it up for lasting success in a new business paradigm, are below:
1. Streamlined processes
In times of significant change that disrupts business activity, one of the first things organizations need to do is drive efficiency and identify opportunities to lower costs. This might include delivering applications faster, quickly pinpointing and resolving issues with performance testing, automating the back office with RPA, driving intelligent manufacturing with IoT analytics, or ensuring teams can still get access to the apps they need to be productive–even when working remotely.
Streamlining processes can also help protect the organization from risk by ensuring policies and privileges are carried out efficiently, improving endpoint encryption, and helping security professionals better identify (and take action on) insider threats. In each case, evolving IT strategy and taking advantage of new capabilities and workflows with a DX initiative can help ensure an organization stays the course and delivers on customer commitments.
2. Deeper insights
Changes to the macro-economic environment can also change the markets where organizations compete. In order to stay competitive and meet revenue expectations, business leaders must rely on additional insights and engagement with their customers to ensure alignment. Artificial intelligence- and machine learning-enabled technologies area natural focal point to this end. Organizations that can better mine their data are able to increase customer intelligence, identify emerging business models, and enhance competitive advantage.
These businesses may also be able to better share information across remote work groups, cut out intermediaries, and use digital platforms to reach and serve customers directly—closing the loop between data and action with technology like chatbots. The prevailing wisdom is that DX helps organizations access the right information they need to perform this analysis, and gives them the tools they need to accomplish it.
3. Greater flexibility
Perhaps what’s most important to most organizations as they manage through uncertainty and change is flexibility. No longer do companies operate in only an on-premises, or only a cloud, reality. Instead, IT leaders need to manage a hybrid environment, often combining data from hundreds of tools into a single pane of glass to identify IT resources and dependencies to fast-track problem resolution.
Flexibility is also a requirement in the areas of storage and backup and recovery systems, as organizations need to ensure the right information is available, the right way, on the right device. And never more so than when employees are highly dispersed, and more vulnerabilities have surfaced than ever before. Taking advantage of new and emerging technologies helps deliver on these requirements.
The key to long-term success: smart digital transformation
Becoming a resilient business is a process, and DX provides the opportunity to achieve a number of critical benefits when change is afoot. But beware, not all approaches to DX are the same.
At first blush, starting over with a rip-and-replace approach may seem like the correct path forward—after all, it provides you with access to bleeding-edge technology. While such an approach may be the correct tack in some cases, it can also have unintended consequences like the risk of negatively impacting core business systems, and added time and cost measures.
Often a better approach is to look for opportunities to bridge the existing and emerging. By modernizing your applications, processes, and infrastructure, for example, you are likely to pivot more quickly and evolve more efficiently—running and transforming at the same time. That’s smart DX.
Powering digital transformation
Micro Focus helps organizations run and transform their business. Driven by customer-centric innovation, our software provides the critical tools they need to accelerate, simplify, secure, and analyze the enterprise. By design, these tools bridge the gap between existing and emerging technologies — enabling faster innovation, with less risk, in the race to digital transformation.
* Micro Focus primary research conducted on a global scale July 7-August 7, 2020.