Intelligent Tech Channels Issue 16 - Page 15

EDITOR’S COMMENT IT department key to digital transformation Rajesh Ganesan, Director of Product Management, ManageEngine. Once an organisation has decided to embark on a digital transformation journey, a cloud-first strategy will help free up resources says Rajesh Ganesan at ManageEngine. D igital transformation is a hotly discussed topic in business circles, yet many senior managers have opted to put it firmly in their too hard basket. Faced with changing markets and shifting customer demands, they believe it is something that can be put off while they focus on other priorities. Nothing could be further from the truth. The power of digital transformation is much more than just the technology underpinning it. It is about the creation of entirely new business models. Unshackled from the limitations of the past, businesses are able to work in entirely new ways. For many business leaders, one of the biggest barriers to embracing a strategy of digital transformation is having a legacy mentality. Leaders look at all the capital already invested in their IT infrastructures, and cannot imagine how they could let it all go. In reality, it is not an either, or proposition. A business does not have to walk away from existing IT systems to be able to take advantage of the benefits digital transformation has to offer. New components can be added to existing systems gradually as requirements change. For example, the benefits of cloud platforms can be embraced gradually while being integrated with on-premises systems. As a result, capital investments already made are not lost, but continue to provide the basis for a more flexible ongoing infrastructure. It is important to realise that data stored on a cloud platform is no less secure than data stored on in-house servers. Through the careful selection of service providers and proper ongoing management, the business benefits of such moves can be realised without any detriment to current security levels. Once a business decides to undertake a digital transformation strategy, their attention shifts to the IT department and how it is going to achieve the required business objectives. For IT teams, the first step is to audit their existing systems. This, in turn, identifies those systems that need to be changed first, and which components can be changed later in the process. For example, many organisations find significant early value in shifting their corporate email system to a hosted platform. As well as saving on hardware costs and data centre space, this frees IT teams from day-to-day management, allowing them to focus on more value- adding activities. Once their email system has been migrated, teams might consider shifting CRM and workflow applications to the cloud as well. Because these shifts are done as a gradual process, senior management can be confident there is a strong business case for each step before it occurs. When it comes to deploying new applications, a cloud-first policy should be put in place. Hosted options for each new application should be considered before any further investments are made in on-premises infrastructure. Over time, this will help improve the flexibility of the business and ensure it is ready to change as market conditions evolve. Undertaking a digital transformation strategy can be somewhat daunting, but when looked at as a series of discrete steps, the process becomes much more manageable. As a first step, senior management needs to be clear on the objectives for their strategy and ensure these are communicated to staff at all levels. Their staff needs to understand why changes are being made and what this will mean for them. Such communication will also make it less likely that individual teams and departments will try to circumvent the IT department and establish their own shadow IT initiatives. These often take the form of unauthorised use of SaaS applications and cloud-based storage services. If teams know their needs are being addressed as part of a larger program, they are less likely to implement their own cloud tools. Finally, management needs to understand that a digital transformation strategy is not a set-and-forget process. Once started, the strategy needs to be continually adjusted to ensure it matches the evolving needs of the business. By understanding that transformation is real, and putting in place a comprehensive plan to embrace it, businesses can ensure they are best placed to continue to grow in a rapidly evolving marketplace.  15