Pandemic Lessons Learned – Adapting Digital Transformation Plans

The recent pandemic has shown the adaptability and flexibility of most IT organizations. Digital transformation, however, has become something of an abused term. We hear the phrase over and over with very little context, but what does it mean, and more importantly, why should we care?

Salesforce defines it as the “reimagining of business in the digital age.” IT executives have been doing a better job at becoming more strategic business partners to their CEOs and CFOs. They have been focused on business enablers, reducing costs and improving transaction workflows, ever with an eye on security. From a planning standpoint, the term “digital transformation” has become a substitute for “innovation.” The reason, in part, is optics. Digital transformation sounds less expensive than innovation to non-IT leadership.

Optics aside, several traditional challenges remain, including staff skills, budget constraints and re-prioritized projects due to the pandemic. In an obtuse way, the pandemic has been an accelerator to this portion of the digital transformation roadmap – the digital workspace. The pandemic has put a spotlight on overdue network, security and collaboration tool improvements and needs. The digital workplace gaps needed to be filled rapidly in 2020 for businesses to maintain pre-pandemic momentum. IT organizations have been up to that challenge.

It is important to note that digital transformation is more an evolution than a revolution. A comprehensive digital transformation plan should focus on process automation, efficiency, business intelligence and, as always, security improvements.

·      Process Automation

It is important to note continued process automation, removing manual steps and enhancing transactions and decision speed will always drive value.  Horizontal Automation takes an integrative approach to finding improvements and then reducing the manual intervention. According to the Vanguard Systems, there are pros and cons to horizontal digital transformation:

  • Pros: Low cost and low risk for the implementing business. Changes are gradual. Finalized business processes and workflows are maintained on familiar platforms and operating systems.
  • Cons: Might be too expansive for businesses looking only for single-function solutions for one part of a workflow.

Creating automated systems within your IT infrastructure takes the stress out of having internal employees constantly monitoring your technology. This gives them time back to focus on what really matters: enabling the teams conducting business transactions.   

·      Efficiency

A recent report from The Hackett Group, “Digital World Class” analysis states that finance organizations can reduce costs by more than 40% by fully embracing digital transformation. The digital transformation view of process automation re-examines manual steps still craving automation and greater efficiencies. Better, more efficient workflows lead to inevitable productivity gains for business. Digitally driven workflows effectively reduce support and end-to-end transactional costs. No news here other than the fact that this goal can sometimes take a backseat to shiny new objects – a proposition killer.

·      Business Intelligence

More customers are requiring business intelligence from their suppliers, distributors and partners. This means access that is secure, isolated to their relevant data and easily digested. Dashboards for items like pending orders, consumption trends, AP/AR, discount thresholds, promotions, and marketing distribution funds (MDF) are all in play.

Really, it is all about access and presentation. Tools like PowerBI, Tableau, Qlik, and others have all successfully dealt with grabbing and presenting data in a meaningful way According the Qlik’s “BI & Data Trends 2021: The Great Digital Switch,” there are 10 data trends that directly support digital transformation, as seen below.

Rationalizing and normalization of data and data warehouses may be needed in some cases. The digitally-transformed organization that has planned and built its BI strategy with open access in mind will definitely have a competitive advantage.

·      Security

As technology advances, security becomes less about putting up a perimeter. With access to data anywhere at any time, threats continue to rise. According to Microsoft, in 2020, 99.9 percent of hacked accounts did not use multi-factor authentication and only 11 percent of all enterprise accounts have multi-factor authentication enabled.

Hijacking of users’ emails continues and bad actors with sophisticated phishing plays have grown since the pandemic started. Continued security investment is an absolute in today’s post-pandemic world. Yet there remains the resistance to multiple logins and timeouts, as they are seen as annoying. Creating secure, productive digital workspaces means security policy changes that have the support of business leaders and HR.

As much as digital transformation has been impacted by the pandemic, this is not the only factor. A shift in the way we work, communicate, and operate through technology will continue well into the future, and it is crucial that businesses are prepared to keep up. To learn more about how iVision can help you stay ahead of the game, check out our services and check back soon for projections of digital transformation in 2021.

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