7 signs your digital transformation strategy is shortsighted and will be short-lived

7 signs your digital transformation strategy is shortsighted and will be short-lived

There are memes going around various social networking sites on who led digital transformation in your company. But what is the essence of this meme?

Digital Transformation is not the sudden digitization of your business, butrather as a holistic strategy to reform your company’s traditional processes and to streamline existing experiences for both your employees and your customers, with a focus on reinventing, rather than refining your existing services. It is a long term strategy that can be likened to a marathon, and not a sprint. The goal of digital transformation is to increase revenue, provide better customer experience, and to minimize wastage through any procedural inefficiencies that may exist within the organization while ensuring security and governance. However, due to Covid-19 situation, many organizations have rushed into business continuity management to keep their business running. Companies that never offered work from home or remote working, are now taking pride in offering work from home for all their employees. Companies that thought cloud was a security nightmare are now rushing to adopt cloud platforms. And companies who thought that client interaction can only happen in person are now finding innovative ways to connect with their customers remotely to comply with social distancing.

But have these organizations done thorough planning before adopting these digital workplace platforms? And do they align with their long term IT Strategy in helping their business go digital during and post Covid19?

A short-sighted digital transformation strategy is like a pain killer that can address your immediate problem but will not resolve the core underlying problem. This reminds me of a situation where I used to pop a painkiller every-time I had a migraine which in turn made caused more acidity which actually was a trigger to my migraine. The moment I started working towards fixing my acidity problem which actually took time as well as changing some of my habits, my migraine problem fixed eventually.

In the case of many organizations, shortsighted digital transformation strategy can cause major issues that can have a significant impact on your organization culture, decreased adoption programs, the increased total cost of ownership.

The following are the 7 signs that you need to pay attention to ensure that your Digital Transformation strategy is not shortsighted

  1. You are using time-bound platforms without post Covid19 conversion strategy — Email and Collaboration Tools like Microsoft Teams and Google Hangout Meet have offered six-month free usage of their remote working and collaboration platform. While these platforms are robust and enterprise-grade, what is their roadmap after the trial period completes? Has your organization budgeted the total cost of ownership once the trial period expires? Or what is the impact of downgrading the functionality to their most basic version? Are you prepared for functionality loss? Data Loss?
  2. You have offered BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) without having a Device Management Tool in place — Many organizations have offered employees, contractors, and partners to use their own device to access enterprise data. This is a great decision given the challenges in providing corporate devices to your users. But is there a device management mechanism in place to ensure that the devices are compliant and follow guidelines to ensure that your data is safe during transit or at rest? Do you have a mechanism in place which prevents any malicious attempt for data loss by the user knowingly or unknowingly by copying data in a flash drive or personal cloud storage devices?
  3. Shadow IT is prevalent in your organization — Shadow IT refers to the usage of applications and infrastructure without the knowledge of your enterprise IT department. IT can include hardware, software, cloud applications, or web services / API that employees turn to without IT authorization to accomplish their tasks or projects. Your employees may choose to use a variety of cloud platforms like Dropbox, Box, OneDrive, Google Drive for data storage, or your sales team my try or buy CRM applications without the knowledge of corporate IT, or build an application on various Low-Code/No-Code application building platforms like Power Apps or App Sheet that may be part of your Office 365 or G Suite tenant. Or buy one of the many Low-Code/No-Code applications in the market using their personal or corporate credit card against a reimbursement.
  4. You have a tech and talent mismatch and end up engaging OEM vendor for help all the time — Many tech vendors provide you with a complimentary trial during Covid19 that lasts for months, but does your organization have skills to support it? Is there an SOP made available for your IT Helpdesk to resolve basic queries about the platform? Do you have a specialist available in case of critical issues? In the absence of skilled resources or a managed services provider with predefined SLA, tech support from OEMs can do as much around their product but cannot help you fix your processes or adoption. It is imperative that your organization understands the skill gap across all levels and establishes a clear strategy to migrate this risk by employing the right resources or engaging with a cost-effective managed services provider to provide both proactive and reactive support.
  5. You have many initiatives going on in your IT Portfolio and most of them are at evaluation or experimentation stage by the same team— Your organization may be in the middle of migrating critical workloads on cloud or making available collaboration tools to your users, while at the same time the same team or leadership is busy with other initiatives like Bot, Blockchain, Machine Learning, IoT without a clear strategy or charter. Covid19 has triggered many initiatives to align enterprise strategy with remote working and IT departments are overwhelmed with several initiatives around cost savings, security, compliance, and collaboration. While running these initiatives in parallel may not be an issue, having the same team running these in parallel may be alarming.
  6. You don’t have a PMO (Program Management Office) — There is a misconception that a PMO is required for large enterprises. A PMO is beneficial to any business that would like to measure the effectiveness of their projects and gain insight on critical metrics that impact their organization directly. A PMO is a lense to an executive body to summarize performance on the projects, establish policies, processes & guidelines and bring down silos that may result in duplicate initiatives or lack of communication. Depending upon your organization size, a PMO with a small team can bring order to chaos and improve visibility to all stakeholders involved. PMOs can ensure seamless connection and communication between operational teams like Finance, Procurement, Human Resources with Delivery & Leadership teams.
  7. You don’t have an Enterprise Architecture Office — As the organizations grow and business processes evolve, their IT landscape tends to become more complex. There are always buy vs build decisions and cost may not be the only metric in picking the right approach. A suboptimal application or platform can result in an architectural debt, a situation where a system or group of systems don’t perform the way they were intended due to a root cause that can be expensive to resolve and thus causes many inexpensive short terms fixes that may involve adopting processes and workarounds for the systems to work as intended. An Enterprise Architecture team can range from a governance body to an active team in defining IT strategy, building to-be landscapes, ensuring business alignment and taking part in demand management, this all depends on the organization needs, what issues it is facing and what the Enterprise Architecture Office role is defined to be.

Organizations often term some digital transformation initiatives as failures, while others are put on indefinite hold. But in any case, they end up being ghosts from the digital past that may haunt many new initiatives going forward. If your organization sees any of the 7 signs above, it is imperative to analyze the risk and impact of your current situation and design a risk management plan. As a Digital Transformation Consultant, I can help you with your Digital Maturity Assessment, calculate Total Cost of Ownership, and provide a roadmap and a plan.

Stay Safe !!!

The Microsoft Cloud Journey

The Microsoft Cloud Journey

Microsoft’s cloud focus has been both interesting and encouraging. In last few years, we have seen world wide adoption of Office 365 & Azure. Five years ago, Microsoft’s server products were much more powerful than their Office 365 counterparts. Today, those differences are shrinking, and Microsoft is increasingly offering Office 365 services that have no in-house counterparts. IT departments continue to struggle with understanding how Office 365 services interoperate with other Office 365 services, Microsoft server products and third-party solutions. The devil is in the details, and the details constantly change. And then there has been an interesting feedback from CIOs and IT Leaders, that they all prefer to start hybrid and continue to use in-house infrastructure and software in concert with Office 365.

As a CXO, you have had your leaders establish cloud first strategy, but have you defined your tolerance for SAAS and PAAS based applications in your cloud journey? Because once these pitfalls are understood and tolerance is defined, you are very close to commence your cloud journey.

There are unique challenges about several Microsoft cloud products that lead to failed implementations and thus reducing confidence in the cloud strategy. Some of them are

  1. The misconception about Azure as VM service: Azure is way bigger then spinning few VM. Its has full stack cloud portfolio that provides services and workloads across identity management, machine learning, big data, storage, API management, CDN and many more. You can see the directory of Azure Cloud Services here.  It is important to consider these services when building a cloud first strategy.
  2. Treating Office 365 as a quick fix: The time to market for Office 365 product line is quick but it needs detailed assessment and planning before jumping the bandwagon. The pre configuration for integrating with Active Directory for sync and single sign on takes time, effort and resources.
  3. Planning performance & delivery: Multinational organizations find that connecting to Office 365 has challenges with the individual services — the bandwidth required, the data and the quality of service. Under Microsoft’s current delivery model, customers must pick a region for the primary delivery and storage of the data for the services.
  4. Upgrades & New Functionality– Office 365 is ever evolving and dynamic with a new functionality being rolled out every quarter (or less).  Organizations can, at the most, delay the release, but not completely avoid it. Communication has to be frequent and consistent before, during and after new functionality has been rolled out.
  5. Deciding what to use when – Organizations face a very unique challenge. Over availability of solutions to address single problem.  You want your network drive that needs to be migrated to cloud, you have solutions ranging from OneDrive, SharePoint Team Sites,  Azure Storage, StorSimple to name a few. You want a digital media solution, you have Office 365 Stream, Videos, Azure Media Services and SharePoint sites. You want workflow based application and you have PowerApps + Flow, SharePoint Online, Azure App Services, etc to address these problems.

Most organization treat cloud as a single project. May it be Office 365 migration or Azure implementation. And this is generally followed by implementing all services at one go.  And then there are other organization that focus on single service model for Office 365 or Azure. They start with Exchange Online and then stop at everything.

In order to mitigate these challenges, it is imperative that organizations use methodology that allows them to tailor-make their deployments that are best suited to achieve their goals. As a consultant, I have come across instances where a cloud service is brought in for a proof of concept, then converted into production and finally end up building processes and metrics to support that deployment.

I consistently thrive to help organizations address these problems by following an approach that brings in agility to adopt cloud services based on their appetite to handle change.

cloud

 

This 4 step approach follows a service catalog methodology that helps define owners for each service and plan the migration accordingly. It involves different teams like cyber security, data center & network and firewall early to plan if hybrid deployment is needed and how to assess the readiness of on premise infrastructure to integration with cloud. Each Service would follow a swimming pool analogy with multiple lanes for swimming.

  • In some lanes, the organization will dive in and swim as fast as possible (for example, when implementing services such as Exchange Online).
  • In some lanes, the organization will stay in the shallow end of the pool. E.g Identity Management
  • In some lanes, the organization will merely dip a toe in the water. E.g PowerBI
  • Some lanes will not be entered at all.

If these challenges are well mitigated, your cloud journey can be as smooth as a summer trip to the beach with adequate sun tan and anti glares to keep you woes at bay. If you are interested in building your Microsoft Cloud strategy, reach out to me at ravee@gokulgaandhi.com and I would be happy to help.