Inputs to Digital Transformation Planning and the Digital Workspace in 2021

In my last blog post, I explored how the pandemic presented new challenges and opportunities for digital transformation. Now, I’d like to offer some projections on how this landscape will continue to change as we enter 2021, along with some suggestions on how to keep up.

Since every business starts from a different place with differing size and speed challenges, transformation plans improve when each investment line item has a simple set of tags for value, change management and investment impact/risk. Budget arguments can be won when the following inputs are included and communicated:


Non-technical leadership teams can operate under the mindset of, “If it isn’t broken, why are we fixing it?” When nothing is inherently wrong with an organization’s IT applications, systems or infrastructure, it can be difficult to understand how or why technology could transform the business.

Value can often be perceived, and addressing perception is important. Workflow examples, with the support of affected business leaders added to the straight math, can help stakeholders envision the value.

Change Management

Many studies have been done regarding how people perceive the word “change.” The numbers consistently hover around this reality:  52% of people surveyed on the impact of change do not like it. For the transformation plan, this can equate to a perception of added risk, especially if the envisioning above is falling short.

It can also be difficult to balance the priorities of certain departments’ business needs over others that may not seem as urgent. For example, an emphasis on providing remote capabilities to certain positions, like sales, rather than the entire workforce complicates IT management and security infrastructure. It may mean perpetuating hybrid environments.

Hybrid environments exist everywhere. Reducing complexity associated with many hybrid worlds is the opportunity, but it may also mean change for the IT staff supporting them. Addressing change through change management as an input, not a separate line item, helps to set expectations – a foundational item for success.

Investment Impact/Risks

Legacy applications and certain enterprise resource planning initiatives have not been cheap, fast or easy to update. Digital transformation can positively improve traditional outcomes, both financially and technically. That said, few IT organizations are staffed and organized adequately to be constantly innovative.

Staff impacts are to be expected, as their roles are many times juxtaposed between keeping the lights on (Operate) versus focusing on business impacts (Innovation). Organizational Development in the form of updated skill players and can get lost in the day-to-day need to show results. Training, hiring and natural attrition are impacts on IT and take time. Plan for them.

Partner Leverage

If internal IT resources and program management teams are strained, trusted partners can readily fill those gaps. Be prepared. Utilizing partners means higher program costs.

But partners can move faster and have the right resources. As the landscape of IT continues to change – speed counts. Leveraging providers who focus on service delivery can save CapEx dollars and yield quicker results than building and maintaining services they specialize in. The as a Service (__aaS) model is proven, and there are better technologies and providers available to help achieve results.

Cloud providers like AWS, Azure and Google offer services that can increase deployment speed and flexibility to make innovation less about cost and more about IT supporting the business differently. It is important to note that utilizing the cloud providers likely requires partners with skills and cloud certifications.  

A cloud-first strategy makes more sense now as the cloud providers rapidly bring richer feature/functions and security capabilities. For perspective, AWS used to have around 120 services/features and now has over 200, all within a span of 18 months.

Tactics for Transformation

Digital Transformation planning is not any more complicated than annual IT planning and budgeting today. It does take on a slightly different hue when it becomes supported at the top and communicated as a function of the role of IT in the business as a whole. Selling it to business leaders and stakeholders, including the board, will attract the support of the rest of the organization. It is the “Tone at the Top” that begins the momentum and can create the urgency. To do that, there are a few simple tactics to consider.

1. Utilize Use Cases

If this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we must constantly adapt. Accessing data all from anywhere and enabling remote work is not going away, and creating the vision for the digital workspace is a necessary tactic on the road to transformation. Building business use cases by business unit, department and function can drive acceptance. Agile “User Stories” are a fast and effective way to make the case.

2. Security Alone Does Not Make the Case

For business acceleration, employees need access to the right tools from anywhere. Driving the case for security enhancements as a means to garner budget dollars will not be enough. Business value can be conveyed by the voice of the user and by workflow mapping to show before and after scenarios. Worker productivity gains are measurable and understandable by leadership in dollar signs. Avoid justifying investments with security fears alone.

3. Consider the Entire Ecosystem

Internal employees are not the only ones who need access to business-critical data. The entire supply chain needs access to data to be better partners. Granting secure and partitioned access to partners, customers and suppliers is becoming a standard set of expectations. The external components of the ecosystem are looking for efficiency also, which can translate into lower costs and higher profits. An entire digital workplace ecosystem drives value. Their business intelligence will come from accurate and more real-time data about their business relationship and transactions.

A sound digital transformation strategy is crucial.  IT leadership teams will take advantage of ongoing transforming opportunities with a sound plan, and many team members will jump at the opportunity to learn new skills and tools associated with digital transformation initiatives.

If you want to learn more about how iVision can help guide you through this changing landscape, see more about our Strategy & Operations practice and all our services.

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