Digital Transformation Planning Tips From An IDC Research Vice President

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Recently, we chatted with Tony Olvet, the Group Vice President of the research analyst team at IDC Canada. He was our webcast guest speaker for New Year, New Perspectives: Digital Trends For 2022 And Beyond. The session sparked some brilliant Q&A, the best of which we have included below.

Given the differences in planning frameworks and horizons between small, medium, and large businesses, what guidance would you give for those looking to plan in the face of disruption? Could you offer us a heuristic?

Tony: Yeah, that’s an excellent question. To plan horizons, you must first consider your short-term goals and balance them with changes in the marketplace. We all know that it’s tough to make the big bets if someone pulls the rug out from under you, which could be in the form of a lockdown or other disruption. These things are just out of your control. So first, focus on what you can control. Make those minor course corrections as needed based on external factors. You should, at the very least, be reviewing these short-term maps every quarter. Then, focus on the long-term and set some aspirational goals and review them annually. For example, if a revenue or employee satisfaction target seems a little unrealistic, you can still have that goal but may need to tune the achievable percentages on a more short-term basis. The exercise of setting and working backwards from your goals with an eye towards technology is undoubtedly a positive. It doesn’t need to be seen just through the lens of old-fashioned IT and infrastructure.

Can you speak to the importance of vision in planning?

Tony: I think it’s essential to have that “North Star” to guide your teams. We’re finding there has recently been a big focus on vision after many employees have lived through such a tough time. They want to work for a company that’s doing something meaningful. So definitely have that long-term vision of where this company wants to go. What’s your corporate social responsibility? What is the good you are doing for society, the Canadian economy, or your community? These considerations also have to be part of that long-term strategy.

In nearly every context, clients now expect the organization they interact with to be digital-first. Whether it’s shopping on their terms or sharing files, it’s clear that they are expecting more of us as service providers.

Do you feel these expectations are going up for everyone? Is it getting easier to deliver on those demands? For example, with providing better client experiences, is this getting easier to implement? Or is it just as hard as it was years ago, and the expectations are more on us as providers?

Tony: I think it depends on the business. However, one factor is undoubtedly the level of connectivity to your service delivery process. Is there some other organization or summons in your supply chain? Say your website is slick, and it’s very simple to click and buy an item. However, there’s something wrong with your overall strategy: the physical delivery of that item. A client will still notice. Tools, experiences, and capabilities are less expensive to gain now, making the front-end experience more straightforward. But I still think the magic happens when you simplify back-end complexity that the average customer might not recognize. That’s not so easy. That’s where supply chain disruptions have wreaked havoc on many sectors, such as the consumer retail space and B2B. Our overreliance on things like “just in time” or “international shipping” has caused significant challenges. The delivery bar is lower with digital, but I would still say that the overall ability to delight from end to end is getting more challenging.

We’re a small IT organization that serves the medical industry. We’ve got data in the cloud, and we are thinking of storage and location a little more now. Can you provide us with some examples of the cloud as a platform for innovation?

Tony: So, storage is a simple decision. Moving data and backing up core infrastructure are very traditional use cases that give people the freedom to focus on other things. To take it a step further, I think of physical routing and what it does to the availability and usage of data. If you’re in health care, you probably have mountains of data waiting for analysis- where can you do that most efficiently, in the cloud. It has the tools, storage, and capability to help you make the right decisions from your analysis with APIs–far beyond what you can do with on-premises technology. Using other services to enhance data value is one of the most critical drivers of cloud adoption today.

Can you spell out that connection to cloud adoption a little more, especially for employees and the work from anywhere experience?

Tony: People will work from home AND brick-and-mortar locations. As part of our leadership obligation, we want to deliver parity of experience. It has to feel the same, especially regarding productivity. Another thing to consider is security. How do you balance the equality there? What role does security play when you are at the office? When you are at home? These are age-old questions that the pandemic has articulated in new ways. For most organizations, that shift happened so quickly that there was a definite scramble to invest, to ensure that those remote workers were safe outside the borders of the company. I’m sure this made some IT and compliance managers feel very uneasy. As employees, we are now going back to the office and have that hybrid workforce model. That means security is even more critical. If you haven’t used that box of VPN licenses or have not done the latest round of patching and upgrades, make sure you do it before the lights come back on. Also, if you don’t have one already, think about adopting a platform to centralize those security activities like a command center.

When you talk about scaling, you told us to think about scaling up vs scaling out. In this matter, you advised us to consider endpoints and the edge of our technology ecosystem, especially when considering service delivery and employee productivity. Can you expand on this and the considerations we should be thinking about?

Tony: Yes. Let’s say you add a remote office. This is what most would consider scaling. However, that office needs to have access to information. It needs to be supported with printers, laptops, and phones – which is also scaling. We have noticed this being especially prevalent now, with the explosion of edge computing and the rise of in-field devices with IoT. If you’re a utility or subcontractor in the construction business, for example, your service team’s technicians are all empowered by edge computing. Here, you might ask, “Do we need to have the computers centralized in Toronto? Or, can we have some of this processing happen at the edge-out in the field?” I think we’re going to see a lot more of those use cases, especially as 5G continues to get rolled out into different regions. You’ll be able to have some of that processing and decision-making done at the outer edges of the network rather than having that traffic routed back to the office or the central data center. That’s what I was talking about, scaling out. It may not apply to everyone today, but it’s indeed happening in sectors like transportation utilities, parts of the financial services sector, and government as well. I think there’s a kernel of wisdom there about being sensitive, especially to reach and where data gets created.
If you missed the webcast or want to watch it again, you can do so here. If these insights have given you some ideas and you would like to talk to a team member contact us today –
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