Three Things To Keep In Mind As You Sprint The Digital Transformation Marathon
The idea of digital transformation is nothing new — enterprises have been giving it lip service for just over a decade now. Yet, after years of changing markets, a groundswell of digital natives and fine-threatening regulations like the GDPR, it took a global pandemic for enterprises to walk the walk — or rather, sprint the marathon.
Enterprises have been forced to digitally transform much faster than planned — practically overnight — to serve a remote workforce and new customer demands. However, updates such as videoconferencing, securing virtual private networks (VPNs) and moving workloads to the cloud do not equal complete transformation. They bandage, rather than bridge, the gap between pre-pandemic business and the new normal.
As IT leaders take on rapid digital transformation, it’s easy to focus on sexy projects, business outcomes and innovation as lights at the end of the tunnel. However, they cannot lose sight of the most important goal: laying a foundation for the enterprise of the future. If leaders want to make it to the finish line, they must look at the healthy tissue of an organization and train and build endurance for the rest.
Remember these three best practices as you expedite transformation excellence at your enterprise:
1. Embrace legacy technologies
Modernization and legacy technologies are not mutually exclusive, just like digital transformation doesn’t mean totally brand new. Remember that today’s cool new technology is tomorrow’s legacy tech. Most large organizations still have significant investment in mainframe technologies and other on-premises solutions. Industries — particularly those with high-volume, online, real-time transactions, such as banking, insurance and telecommunication — still rely on the mainframe as a critical centerpiece of their IT infrastructure.
IT leaders don’t have to lose all legacy systems or the mainframe to achieve transformation. Revel in that relief because it’s no secret that rip-and-replace projects are expensive, time-consuming and disruptive to the organization. Instead, IT leaders can assess their mainframe and legacy systems and identify what’s slowing digitization and what is salvageable with the right solutions.
For instance, performance and capacity management tools can control costs by maximizing the utilization of existing mainframe resources. Low-code applications that are able to integrate with mainframe application APIs can enable modernization of older applications in parts, perhaps starting with the front end. Start by looking at the current environment. What can you accomplish? What can you eliminate?
2. Operationalize privacy compliance for your content
Content is the other dark horse of digital transformation. Databases and data lakes are an obvious first place to begin addressing privacy regulations. However, documents and records that live in places like Google Drive, Microsoft Word and Excel spreadsheets, for example, present an additional challenge — one that fewer companies have begun to tackle.
Yet, the pandemic didn’t put data privacy regulations like GDPR or CCPA on pause. On the contrary, the increasingly remote workforce has made compliance efforts even more complex. With this in mind, organizations must elevate their governance strategies, knowing where personal and sensitive data lives within the enterprise, knowing whose data it is, and ensuring it’s compliant with privacy regulations. Enterprises should add the following steps to their digital transformation checklist:
• Evaluate all content, documents and records for personal information
• Ensure all personal information contained within those documents and records is associated with a specific person
• Prioritize requests from customers to delete their data from all records within the organization
Content privacy compliance should be a top priority for digital transformation, not only to avoid hefty fines from regulators, but also to reinforce customer trust and loyalty during uncertain times. Privacy regulations will only continue to grow, and consumers will only pay more attention to how enterprises respond. Operationalizing privacy compliance for content lays a solid, scalable foundation for success in both categories.
3. Establish data trust
The importance of clean, compliant data is often pigeonholed to regulation response efforts, but trustworthy data is the great digital transformation enabler. As IT leaders put innovative projects on a pedestal, they are unknowingly stalemated without trustworthy data.
For data to be trustworthy, enterprises must know where it came from, where it is, who has touched it and how it’s governed. With this trust, decision makers can evaluate data fit and value for both human-driven and artificial intelligence/machine learning-driven analytics. If organizations do not understand their data, they can't use it to make data-driven business decisions or fuel growth projects. If an enterprise unknowingly uses bad data to inform changes to its solutions or customer experiences, it will end up heading in the wrong direction and open itself up to negative outcomes.
In a survey of IT pros by my company, ASG Technologies, 63% of respondents believe inaccurate, outdated or otherwise “bad” data has been used to fuel business decisions in their organizations. If an enterprise falls into this vast category, they must first lay a foundation for data trust and establish data intelligence maturity before embarking on digital transformation initiatives.
Digital transformation may feel like the finish line, but it’s really the starting block. Today’s race is to build an organization for the new remote, digital world. The true marathon will be how organizations compete in this new arena. Enterprises must modernize their legacy IT systems, digitize their information and set up governance and compliance today so they can innovate in the future. With the pandemic pressure on, the window may feel short, but the view is forward-looking.
Author: Swamy Viswanathan