Gerhard Hartman, Vice President, Medium Business – Africa & Middle East at Sage, explains in detail about the four major hurdles to overcome in achieving digital transformation.
One thing that is becoming clear in our increasingly digitalised world is that Chief Information Officers (CIOs) need to adopt a more strategic approach in driving innovation in their organisations if they are to keep up with the rapid pace of change. But in seeking to reinvent their IT infrastructure from top to bottom to make it relevant to the digital era, CIOs run into a range of cultural, technological and process hurdles. Here are some of the common hurdles and ways to overcome them.
A lack of vision and coordination across the business
Digital technology affects every aspect of the organisation, from logistics to HR and financials, and from production to sales, marketing and customer experience. Yet, many businesses have thus far, not successfully aligned their functions and departments behind a coherent digital vision. Digital transformation efforts carried out by different teams and departments remain fragmented and difficult to scale.
No doubt, companies, where the CEOs and their C-suite colleagues drive the Digital Transformation strategy, will have a more coherent vision. The Chief Executive, Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), Chief HR Officers (CHRO) and Chief Financial Officer (CFO) should all work closely with the CIO and Chief Digital Officer to align the business and technology to ensure the implementation of a compelling digital strategy for the business.
Legacy systems and entrenched processes inhibit innovation
Many organisations have legacy processes and systems in place that make it difficult for them to launch innovative services, channels and solutions to support digital workforces and employees. Their rigid platforms are not suitable for new generation technologies such as the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics. Such entities often perceive IT as an impediment to growth and innovation rather than a strategic enabler.
The rise of cloud adoption helps CIOs speed up time to market with new applications and innovative services. The cloud is a great enabler, allowing executives and employees access to real-time data anywhere and at any time. With cloud solutions now reaching maturity, businesses are turning away from legacy Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems to more flexible and cost-effective solutions with a faster return on investment.
IT budget keeps the lights on, but there’s no money for innovation
IT budgets are under pressure, and the strain is only going to grow as companies seek to mitigate the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. CIOs are managing to keep operations afloat with their existing budgets. Yet, there is not much money left to implement strategic growth initiatives or innovative projects to prepare for the future.
Automation is a quick-win method of saving time and money that can, in turn, be reinvested in value-generating areas such as innovation. Automating processes through business applications helps eliminate the pain in compliance and across other operational requirements.
Challenges in end-user adoption
Successful Digital Transformation depends on internal users (employees) and external stakeholders (customers, partners and others) adopting the technology the organisation provides. Yet, cultural resistance to new technologies can be high in several companies with some users preferring their own tech or the legacy systems. As for Customer-centricity issues, CIOs need to work with customer service teams to understand how consumers and employees interact with back-end systems through mobile apps and web front-end the companies offer. CIOs must enable fast, simple and seamless access to data and services to accommodate complex customer demands and ensure these systems are available 24×7.