Digital transformation is at the top of the agenda for most enterprise businesses looking to improve customer engagement, find new competitive advantage and grow revenue. However, as highlighted in a recent article on ARN, findings from Ovum’s ICT Enterprise Insights for 2017 report that 33% of businesses remain challenged by the process of replacing legacy networks and dedicated service platforms with a coherent digital environment. The stalling of many digital transformation programs can be traced to a lack of clarity at both a strategic and architectural level.
There are several streams of work that any organisation planning or initiating a digital transformation program should address to ensure long term success. Through our engagements in each of these streams we know there are clear technology and architectural paths to achieve any desired outcome – having a strategic foundation to these choices will be the key driver of success.
Cloud enablement is about establishing a cloud platform with a robust technology framework for an organisation to securely build, run and manage software services in the cloud.
But for what purpose and what’s the difference? As one of our consultants regularly quips, “the cloud has to sit on somebody’s premise”. In an interconnected economy cloud provides the capacity to respond and adapt to market movements, and to scale and leverage elastic configurations to maintain performance with a flexible cost structure. Sitting outside of, rather than building on top of traditional structures is the key to accommodating a new digital platform.
From a business perspective, ownership of infrastructure, which is for most organisations an undifferentiated service, needs to be questioned. It may be far better to shift capital into producing added value for your business.
Enabling cloud will allow your team to adopt a continuous delivery framework that supports innovation through rapid software delivery. The cloud platforms we have set up on Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) providers such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, deliver cost effective scalability and high availability.
Successful cloud enablement both enables and is dependent upon the use of best practice engineering technologies. Any concerns over a loss of control when moving to cloud are quickly laid to rest through the governance and agility that can be provided through correct configuration of these tools. The table below outlines the key functions required and example technologies:
If cloud infrastructure is the chassis, digital enablement is the engine of your transformation program that will accelerate your performance and provide engaging experiences for your customers.
Whether they be consumers, students, patients, constituents or even employees, your customers are increasingly time poor, information saturated and digitally savvy. Providing interactions that are timely, relevant and consistent across channels will undoubtedly increase customer engagement and loyalty.
Sound digital enablement should support:
- Multi-channel capability – Deconstructing your legacy applications through a microservices architecture built on open frameworks will provide the flexibility to take advantage of modern technologies such as mobile, wearables and beacons.
- Content dynamism – Implementing an adaptive content management system, such as Contentful CMS, will allow you to tailor content for different channels and audiences.
- Reusable business capabilities – Enabling core business capabilities such as user accessibility, authentication and privileges through APIs will enable you to be more responsive to changing customer needs and market trends.
Business Application Overhaul
The fuel that will best leverage your new cloud and digital vehicle is your data. The efficiency with which you access, interpret, utilise and potentially monetise your information can differentiate or create an x-factor that may deliver an underlying competitive advantage.
This information will often sit in your existing business applications – finance, ERPs, CRMs and HR systems. For younger organisations many of these may already be pure cloud as SaaS solutions. The leading vendors will have a strong API capability that will enable dynamic access. But for organisations with a legacy IT landscape you may need to look to transition to SaaS alternatives or ‘lift and shift’ to an IaaS platform to ensure you can fully leverage your data.
Of course, there may be significant financial constraints in undertaking such a large-scale digital shift. Or, these legacy platforms may have sophisticated integrations, workflows and business rules that provide the organisation a highly unique and competitive platform to deliver services to its customers. A good approach here can be to identify the high value information assets and services, make them available through a microservices architecture and containerise them for easy access and reuse by your newer digital layer.
With existing and new information sources, there lies a significant opportunity to decipher the data and drive actions to provide superior controls or customer interactions.
Digital transformation is very much a saturated term in the marketplace. However, it is a concept that delivers because the available technology is ready and waiting. Successful transformation is really only inhibited by a lack of clear strategy, from a business and architectural perspective, and the resulting technological inertia.