While it is important for business leaders to focus on the operational and cultural aspects of a planned transformation, selecting and implementing the most appropriate new IT will, in most cases, be at heart of the whole exercise.
Andrew Rivers is co-founder and director of consulting firm 345 Technology. He observes that “transformations are continually evolving, as is their underlying technology. They often seem like a gargantuan task, but a CIO can, by breaking down the functional pieces into smaller tasks that use proven technologies, create a clear “roadmap”. This will help their organization overcome the fear that can stifle big plans.
Rivers and other experts in the field consider the following five technologies to be the most crucial for successful transformation.
1. Cloud services
The cloud is probably still the most important technology in a transformation. The global market for public cloud services will be worth more than £650 billion by 2025, according to a recent estimate from Cision.
This technology is crucial, says Rivers, because it has made large-scale transformation projects feasible for smaller organizations by making the whole process more cost-effective. Additionally, cloud platforms increase storage capacities and provide wide coverage with low latency and high speed. As a result, they have made it easier than ever to deploy efficient networking, storage, and data centers for midsize businesses.
“Traditionally, if you wanted to move a process online, you had to plan for surge capacity. So if you were processing a million direct debit transactions in three hours on the first day of every month, say, you would need that capacity. for the whole month,” he explains. “What the cloud does is allow you to quickly scale up your resources, allowing the whole process to become more accessible and more cost-effective.”
2. Enterprise Resource Planning Software
Chances are your company already has an ERP system, so why is it so important in digital transformations in 2022?
This has become a priority as many organizations work with aging ERP systems that they have extensively customized over many years, according to Ola Chowning, partner at global technology research firm ISG.
“This makes any sort of meaningful upgrade nearly impossible. Also, it’s likely that your business model and channels have changed and become more distributed since you implemented this system,” she says.
Organizations are using ERP systems such as Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central to help create a “single version of the truth,” adds Dean Carroll, managing director at consultancy Xpedition.
“Ultimately, companies want to reach a point where they have unified data. It’s a critical measure of the success of a transformation project,” he explains. “ERP systems can provide reliable data that enables organizations to make better choices about sales and revenue transformations, for example.”
3. Customer relationship management platforms
The ultimate goal of many transformation projects is to improve the customer experience, which makes CRM a crucial technology, says Carroll.
Xpedition customers “prioritize CRM and ERP systems as they help to improve the customer experience and manage the margin squeeze” that many businesses have suffered since the unwelcome return of high inflation in the UK.
CRM platforms allow their users to anticipate “the next action”. For example, in financial services, it’s crucial to know what has been done with a given account, how that account compares to others, and what is most likely to benefit the holder, he says, adding: Customer information systems are essential to confer the ability to offer customers the best possible digital services.
4. Data Lakes
One of the most exciting recent developments in digital technology has been the emergence of AI systems such as machine learning and deep learning. These have the potential to help an organization sift through the huge volume of raw data at its disposal and extract useful insights that could give it a competitive edge.
But Rivers points out that this is only possible if an organization understands the data it has and can bring that material together for analysis. The good news is that advances in cloud storage have made it possible to store large amounts at a relatively low cost.
“We’re at a point where we’re talking pennies to store terabytes of data, so you have the ability to gather data into lakes, where it’s accessible to AI-based analytics tools,” Rivers says. .
His company recently helped a mining company set up a lake containing data shared by mechanical devices around the world. By analyzing this hardware using processes built into Microsoft’s Azure Data Factory, the company was able to more accurately predict when its equipment is likely to need repairs.
“Being able to choose when to turn off a device rather than waiting for something to break is a huge cost savings for this company,” he says.
5. HR management tools
While ERP, CRM, and AI-powered data processing technologies are critical to meeting a company’s customer needs, it’s equally important to focus on the employee experience. Human resource management software can serve as a valuable transformation tool by tracking employee roles and identifying skill gaps as new processes are implemented.
These systems can also engender stronger teamwork during transformations, according to Chowning. Apps like Basecamp, Trello, Asana, and Monday.com can improve cooperation within and between teams, while helping project managers keep everything on track.
“If you can put technology in place that enhances the employee experience, you’ll have a strong central platform to drive transformation,” she says. “Alongside traditional HR platforms, this means investing in employee enablement tools.”
Ultimately, choosing the right technology for a transformation depends on what exactly needs to be changed.
“Are you looking to get closer to consumers, transform the supply chain for more resilience or automate manufacturing tasks for greater efficiency? There will never be a one-size-fits-all solution,” says Chowning. “Organizations should choose their technology based on what will enable them to achieve the business results they seek. These – and the technologies needed to deliver them – will continue to evolve over time.