As we move into 2017 the lines between the varying sectors of industries and businesses will become even more blurred and each and every company or organization will need to begin to become just a little more of a technology company.
You will hear about this craze throughout 2017, as the omnipresent quest to “go digital” will continue. Your digital transformation will equate into numerous opportunities for empowering your employees and enhancing customer engagement through new services and product offerings. Your keys to success will be different for each of you but you can begin to reconcile your existing technologies with the new digital offerings by taking the advice of Bill Briggs, chief technology officer, for Deloitte Consulting LLP, “Think big, start small, fail fast and keep moving”.
As you begin your digital innovation and investment strategy you must understand the impact the latest emerging technology trends will have on your business. This understanding needs to be translated into a strategic plan inclusive of these new emerging technologies and the understanding of how these latest kinds of changes will drive your business model and market. Each of you will approach this with your own unique set of perspectives, goals, opportunities and challenges. You will find as the boundaries blur commonality will emerge that can provide you some powerful opportunities to share ideas and strategies among entities which you may have been previously disconnected. Your technical and business leaders need to get on the same page to jumpstart your organization’s digital transformation and the magnitude of opportunities a digital transformation can mean. The harder part will be translating this “digital transformation” into viable opportunities for customer engagement, employee empowerment and new products and services that will enhance your bottom line.
Your tech leaders will embrace this as it will give them dispensation in their roles of strategist and change catalyst. You should look to your tech leaders to first evaluate the possibility of extracting more value from your present legacy systems. This could mean a full upgrade to a new platform or possibly only replacing outdated components with some newer tools driven by the latest technology. I am sure you have a sufficient investment in your core system(s) so core modernization needs to be done at a granular level taking into account your present budget, architecture, security, scalability and life cycle of the system. If you plan carefully and keep these changes manageable it will go a long way in helping your business meet its needs today while creating a roadmap for the future.
You and your organization are not alone in this digital transformation struggle. To some degree, most organizations are facing many of the same digital challenges. Technical debt is a real challenge in many organizations, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that legacy systems have no life left in them, maintaining core operations and keeping the lights on still matter greatly for most of us. A critical part of any effort to digitally modernize your business is to shore up your core information technology foundation. If your core is solid and running well you will have the foundation to begin to build your digital transformation on. Strategy is the key here, as digital transformation is as much about your tactics as your mind-set. If your business is in order you can begin to evaluate the pieces of digital transformation like integration, design and architecture. You will find the transition will be easiest on all when it can be focused on creating a specific product, service or customer experience. This provides the buy in you need from your stakeholders and the effort becomes bound to a precise not abstract goal. This should be your first step in your much broader effort toward digitally transforming your enterprise.
In 2017 and beyond successful companies will most likely be those that can live up to the mandate of being a tech company. Analytics and digital are the new currency on which all competition is being waged. Your challenge is determining how your company will compete in this digital environment and this challenge is not a luxury and it is not an option. If you are not exploiting the latest digital technologies and analytics to drive new offerings and customer experiences don’t worry your competition will.
Jill Van Hoesen is chief information officer for Johnson Newspapers and a 25-year IT veteran. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her column appears monthly in NNY Business.