Thoroughly Modern: Building Organizational Resilience in the Digital Age
January 17, 2022 Maxime Leclair
There is so much change happening in the world and technology is playing a critical role. Organizations must use modern digital solutions if they want to survive and thrive amid uncertainty and accelerate growth in an aggressively competitive business landscape.
Climate change, COVID-19, global and financial crises, among other things, have exposed vulnerabilities in businesses and accelerated the need for new digital capabilities, modern systems, and processes as well as optimized and transformed legacy systems. According to research, 63 percent of organizations flag digital transformation, including building up technological infrastructure and data analytics as top strategic priorities for the next three years.
Most organizations running business-critical applications on IBM i are established enterprises with a highly developed solution stack that spans 25-plus years. To thrive in this ever-changing economic landscape, you’ll need to innovate at speed and scale, keep pace with industry and technological change, and foster more resilience. It also means developing the future generation of skills, bridging the gap between talent supply and demand, and future-proofing your technology architecture.
For companies that have a plan and have started to embrace new digital solutions, modernization and transformation, these investments are reducing risk and driving growth and competitive advantage.
Moving into the digital era does come with some unique challenges and often requires a shift in mindset, new ways to operate, and alignment across the organization. You’ll want to surround yourself with resources who are knowledgeable in your systems and external experts in modernization and transformation who have industry experience to help plan and implement your digital goals. Skills and skill gaps can present some challenges as organizations look ahead to right-size their IT capabilities and support the old and new.
According to PwC: “Finding and hiring employees with the key skills they need to succeed in the digital world continues to keep CEOs awake at night. 80% of CEOs say they’re worried (up from 77% in 2017), and 38% are extremely concerned (up from 31% in 2017).”
As an example, I’ve done a fair amount of hiking and mountain climbing, but if I were going to climb Mt. Everest, I would want to know what obstacles I’d be facing and what to expect. Enlisting the help of a Sherpa or an expert, would give me the insight and help I need to complete the climb successfully. The same goes for digital transformation. Modernizing and transforming applications isn’t part of the typical IT daily routine at most organizations. But this and development of new digital solutions is what Fresche does best and the reason so many companies enlist us.
From Stabilizing IT To New IT Investment
Not only can you use technology as an enabler to achieve your digital transformation, but you can also expand your business by adding new capabilities or products. This is often referred to as Domain Transformation. With this paradigm change, you can unlock organic growth and reap a strong return on investment. You enter a new era that sets the stage for innovation. You use your current strengths as stepping stones that bridge to new opportunities. The key is to identify adjacencies between existing business and desired opportunities, such as horizontal technologies or capabilities.
A remarkable example of domain transformation is Amazon, which redefined its products and services and evolved from an online book retailer to the largest global cloud service provider.
However, domain transformation is not only for leading digital businesses. It can also be used by smaller businesses to invest in the right building block technology, creating the right conditions for innovation. Some common building blocks used by organizations with successful transformations are cloud services, mobile enablement, Big Data, and business intelligence, IoT, design thinking and AI tools.
Going From Contemplation To Initiation: Building A Plan
According to Gartner, 67 percent of companies have missed expectation of profit growth from digital.
Now that the pandemic is mostly behind us, and operations are beginning to run more smoothly, how will you pivot your organization from stabilization to new investment in growth and transformation? How do you plan to move forward with the domain transformation?
“When 70 percent of transformations fail, a company needs a proven strategy to beat the odds.” – McKinsey
The experts at Fresche recommend the creation of a digital transformation framework, which includes the key elements required to build or calibrate a strong digital strategy tailored to your business needs and goals. Having this framework down pat, ideally at the beginning of your journey, is the key to getting it right the first time.
Digital transformation is usually an ongoing process and some key aspects that can drastically increase the success of your initiative include:
- Getting leadership buy-in
- Facilitating multidepartment and multilevel collaboration
- Centering current knowledge at the heart of the project
While creating the framework, one of the first steps is also to determine the size (this depends on the legacy of your business model, technologies, and the time you commit to the plan) and scope of your transformation project.
Getting Started And Building Your Plan
There are a few areas that Fresche focuses on during a discovery engagement with customers. Below are some of the key ones to get you thinking about what should be in your plan.
1) Data and Analytics:
Data is one of the most important factors of competitiveness. Therefore, leveraging all the power of your organizational information, gathered over multiple decades, is a key part of this journey.
Remember to eliminate data silos within the organization, so that all teams have the same information and are working toward the same goal. Establishing a strategic data modernization roadmap can also equip you to make better business decisions at the speed and accuracy you need.
Organizations sometimes struggle with the implementation of their digital transformation because of a gap in execution capacity or competencies. Technology must be accompanied by proper resource expertise.
A survey from McKinsey indicates that 87 percent of the companies are experiencing gaps now or expect them within a few years.
Equipping yourself with the right sourcing strategy that is served by your abilities and skills and establishing solid enterprise-wide workforce-planning and talent development practices improve the success rate of digital transformations by up to two times.
3) Agility, Testing and DevOps:
The lack of agility and the time to market are often barriers to business development and the ability of an organization to launch new products. Automation has developed gradually over many decades and is now a top priority. In 2021, digital transformation initiatives at more than 75 percent of enterprises focused on automation.
Gaining agility and decreasing your time to market and cost of ownership by leveraging different automation tools are key to helping your organization manage the full development cycle, from build to deployment, via testing automation for your IBM i (AS/400) software.
4) API and Integration Discovery:
Information systems are more complex than ever, and organizations are built over a myriad of home-grown and third-party systems. Unfortunately, most organizations fail to integrate them adequately, with the side effect of duplicating and degrading the quality of information: on average, only 29 percent of these applications are integrated. Over time, this complexifies your environment and decreases your operational efficiency.
Organizations leveraging APIs experience increased productivity (59 percent), self-service (48 percent) and increased innovation (46 percent). Build an executable corrective plan based on market best practices to unlock this productivity and innovation and appropriately integrate all the components of your organization’s information system.
To enable rapid change for its customer service associates and their ability to delight customers, R Cable y Telecomunicaciones Galicia, a Spanish quad-play telecom company, created a unified customer service workbench, driven by APIs into its siloed traditional applications. The new platform enables R to deliver customer service improvements 50 percent to 70 percent faster than before. (Source)
With the new year upon us, it is a great time for your organization to consider digital transformation efforts and new ways you can accelerate future growth. Remember, the success of your digital initiatives’ rests not only on the effective implementation of your transformation plan, but also on the adoption within the organization. Additionally, leveraging the expertise of your IT resources and their collective willingness to modernize is key.
Fresche’s Discovery services involve a comprehensive strategic assessment of your IBM i infrastructure, applications, and business vision. Over the last couple of decades, our holistic approach for discovery has helped many organizations successfully embark on their digital journey. For more details, click here or set up a free consultation with our expert strategists to get some thoughts on your digital transformation initiatives.
Maxime Leclair is Senior Vice President, Client Advisory at Fresche. He has more than 25 years of experience in digital transformation, system integration and outsourcing strategies. As SVP of Client Advisory, Maxime helps clients to align their digital transformation journey with their corporate goals, by building strategic transformation plans with the right set of expertise, aligned to their priorities and their realities. Over the course of his career, he has demonstrated the ability to manage digital transformation in line with the business objectives successfully in many contexts such: growth, operational efficiency, merge and acquisition and restructuring. His leadership has allowed him to form successful teams committed to the success of your organization.
This content was sponsored by Fresche Solutions.