Leveraging digital transformation

With technology more integrated in modern business than ever before, customers now expect 24×7 availability to their needs, which has contributed to an increasingly hyper-competitive landscape among companies in delivering new, convenient services to the marketplace.

Digital in particular has increasingly become the foundation for improving business, and while IT disaster recovery (DR) plays a key role in the data protection and availability aspects of digital, it’s not the only piece of the puzzle on the journey to innovating a business’s overall growth.

To harness the power of digital, companies must embrace new practices, solutions and ways of thinking—which could even mean reforming company culture. One term that’s emerged to accomplish this departmental evolution is digital transformation (DX). I spoke with Vic Tingler, Vice President of Digital Transformation at InterVision, about how companies can use DX to empower their business for the future.

Ton: In a summary, what is digital transformation (DXS) and why does it matter to businesses?

Tingler: DX is all about leveraging technology to find new, different and better ways of doing things. For example, look at how the use of digital signature has changed the way we do business. We are still signing many of the exact same documents for legal, financial or medical services but now instead of driving into an office and using a pen or faxing physically signed documents back and forth, we can review and sign important agreements with our cell phones. DX assists companies in adopting new innovative solutions like digital signatures to ultimately improve business efficiency. It encourages business leaders and all departments to recognize new areas for growth or improvement and take action.

Ton: How does DX connect to business units beyond IT?

Tingler: DX is all about the business and in order to be successful with your transformation you must include, and I would say start with the business. The partnership between IT and business has to be one of trust and mutually agreed-upon goals to achieve true success in transforming the business.

IT managers are finding themselves pressured to make their IT departments more efficient and valuable, which demands them to take a larger role in moving their organizations forward. As you know, data protection plays a key part in DX adoptions or changes to existing practices. A good DR plan will also be integrated with cybersecurity plans, tied to overall business continuity. DX demands this type of holistic approach to all business operations, whether this is accounting, sales or marketing. One business unit affects another—and DX helps to make this puzzle clear, so that IT can hone in on new efficiencies.

Tingler: The impact here will vary somewhat by industry and types of services offered, but we usually see significant gains in quality of service and availability of resources due to efficiencies that are gained utilizing DX technologies. If, for instance, I can automate the deployment of new application services or even branch offices vs. having to burn countless hours on mundane tasks, then it is a win/win for both the business and IT.

Ton: What are some of the common gains you see with DX?

Tingler: Most notably, we see an increase in productivity and innovation out of IT organizations that embrace DX. Leveraging technologies such as service automation, cloud and Anything-as-a-Service (XaaS) allows for more time to focus on being a business enabler vs. a cost center. Utilizing these technology services will increase productivity, reduce time-to-market, and add a layer of agility not readily available in the past. For instance, if I am a retailer that wants to push into a new region or go global with my offerings, I can now spin up a cloud instance of my services in that region in hours or even minutes vs. having to rent or build a data center from the ground up, which takes months and huge capital expense.

Ton: What are some key areas of advice you’d give to readers for DX?

Tingler: First, always begin with the why: why am I making this change to how I do business? Is it what my customers need/demand of me? How can that be supported with technology?

Second, build a strong partnership between the business and IT. Only by working together will you really be able to transform your business.

Third, be agile—but also start with an end goal in mind. It is very important to have your vision and direction mapped out first, then utilize an agile methodology to get there.

Ton: What is a good starting point for businesses to improve their digital stance?

Tingler: XaaS is a good place to start, by leveraging managed, hosted or XaaS offerings, you can take some of the heavy lifting off your IT teams and allow them to really transform the business. It is hard for an architect or engineer to be creative if he/she just spent 18 hours doing a server upgrade or troubleshooting a storage problem. Offload that to a service provider and let them carry that burden, so you can focus on what matters—which is providing innovative solutions to the business.

Ton: Some third parties offer solutions geared toward advancing a company’s DX. What does this tend to look like, and what should you keep in mind?

Tingler: DX solutions tend to take several forms, since it’s an end-to-end approach to improving your business. It includes consulting around strategy development, change management, and service modernization—all of which are extremely beneficial when beginning your digital journey. Having a third-party point of view and simply someone there that can be the moderator is a value in and of itself. Change management principles, when applied to large, complex and time-sensitive DX projects, can make or break you.

As mentioned previously, look at what you are doing today and weigh the value of continuing to do that yourself or offloading it to a trusted partner. InterVision, for instance, offers an entire portfolio of managed services from hosted collaboration to DRaaS. Leveraging these offerings rather than investing time and resources into supporting them yourself can be a quick win in cost, reliability and time to innovate.

Another key aspect is security, security, security… Let’s not forget that, as we make services more open and available, we also need to take a hard look at how we are securing data. Utilizing next-generation security tools, platforms and procedures can make the transition to DX much safer if considered up front, rather than as an afterthought bolted on to meet a compliance requirement.

Lastly, don’t underestimate the value of marketing. Celebrate your wins and advances in innovative services offered with DX both internally and externally. Nothing motivates an IT team or a business unit more than success!

This article originally appeared on CSOOnline.com