How to Maximize the Effectiveness of Digital Transformation

Based on an interview with Choo Tatt Saw, CIO, INSEAD

Digital transformation (DX) has become a must for organizations to progress. This is apparent from the increased digitalization [1] that every sector is undergoing, which helps enterprises develop agility and operational efficiency, and data-driven insights, enabling them to respond quickly and well to factors out of their control. The normalization of cloud-centric environments and hybrid work in many industries and sectors has also required enterprise networks to change considerably and incorporate updated technological tools to ensure operations can continue smoothly. As a result of all these changes, enterprise networks are no longer predictable in terms of their cost, users, and requirements, adding further complexity to their management.

To cope, enterprises need to ensure that their IT infrastructure is viable and robust enough to deal with increased demands — or else risk falling behind. While the pandemic presented many challenges, it also allowed enterprises to, while undergoing DX and refreshing their network and security infrastructure, implement strategies that focus on future-proofing the business. [2]

But what can organizations do to ensure that their DX is effective and successful, to enable future-readiness?

Starting from the top: considerations for business leaders

DX is a lengthy ongoing process; a marathon, not a sprint. For better chances of DX success, senior leaders need to keep in mind three key considerations.

Firstly, business goals are supported by technology. Therefore, business goals must be aligned with technological roadmaps. The first step in any DX initiative should be a thorough assessment of currently unmet business needs, and how digital tools can be implemented to fill these gaps.

Secondly, CIOs need to be on the same page [3] as other senior leaders at all times. As organizations grow, business needs will evolve and technological limitations may surface. To proactively address such issues, business leaders and CIOs must be in sync and work closely together to ensure ongoing alignment of business and DX strategies, so that the organization can work towards its goals as a single entity.

“I would encourage all CIOs to be at the forefront of the business planning so that they can prepare their team to react to the requirements of the business,” says Saw. “Be a strategic partner to the business.”

Thirdly, it may benefit the enterprise to form a skilled team with the right people and capabilities to help drive the development of suitable network and security infrastructure to develop a firm foundation for future growth. Ensure the team is effective by keeping them informed of the enterprise’s current and future business and technology direction, so that they can build IT infrastructure that is fit and future-ready, enabling flexibility, supporting growth, and quickly adapting to changing demands.

Upskilling for longevity and growth in today’s constantly evolving digital world

To support the continual improvement of the enterprise, every employee should have access to learning and development opportunities, and be encouraged to develop digital fluency [4] to ensure longevity and growth in the organization’s digital operations.

Simply investing in IT hardware and software is not enough, as these are not the only components of successful DX. People have a critical role to play in achieving positive outcomes for the enterprise with DX, and improving the workforce by enabling and supporting employees as they seek to upgrade their skills and capabilities can only benefit the enterprise. By creating a digitally fluent workforce, every member of the organization is better positioned to capture the benefits of digitalization.

The key to achieving this is to provide learning opportunities to all employees. This could entail developing robust training platforms, as well as an effective learning and development framework. Through these, employees will be able to acquire skills and knowledge that will allow them to thrive in the digital environment — and hence take the enterprise to greater heights.

Building future-proof IT infrastructure and networks

Ongoing digitalization and DX in addition to the fast-changing business landscape require organizations to recognize the advantages and disadvantages of their current IT infrastructure, then take proactive steps to embrace next-generation technology and best practices such as cloudification that can enable progress towards their business goals. This will also help enterprises future-proof themselves and ensure that their DX is progressive rather than a one-off initiative.

The pandemic and the normalization of hybrid work models turbo-charged adoption of cloud-based IT infrastructure. Enterprises that have not yet embraced the cloud are lagging behind their peers. This gap is likely to rapidly widen as digitalization continues.

Enterprises need to rebuild legacy systems [5] to improve performance. However, be sure to take a strategic and cautious approach: when adopting new cloud environments, platforms, and providers, ensure that they are interoperable and compatible with older systems. This will enable seamless integration and reduce chances of error and operational hiccups

Cybersecurity is also of utmost importance with major shifts to the cloud. While cloud environments provide enhanced flexibility and performance, network security is essential with more data hosted remotely.

“While we have VPNs, firewalls, and surface tools, what we’re looking at now is how to have a better, integrated suite of cyber tools that covers devices, network scanning, and surveillance so that we still have a pane of glass to look through regardless of where our staff are,” says Saw.

Maximize the effectiveness of DX to achieve your business goals

Successful DX is not a pipe dream. When implemented effectively, DX allows enterprises to build agility and flexibility into their processes and positions the organization for future success by cultivating an environment that embraces change and adaptability.

With strong and cohesive leadership at the helm, a digitally fluent and continuously improving workforce, and a firm foundation in the form of reliable, secure, and flexible IT infrastructure and networks, enterprises can develop, grow and flourish even when faced with challenges and uncertainty.

To learn more about new technology solutions that can help ensure you have a flexible, agile, and reliable IT infrastructure and network that can support your enterprise’s development and growth, contact us here.