Digital transformation: how to go the last mile.
By now, many enterprises know that the focus of their digital transformation initiatives can’t be all about technology. When you’re talking digital transformation, you’re talking problem-solving. Problem-solving for business processes, for people, and for enterprise technology systems.
Before companies can design, develop, and deploy new technology to solve a human need, they must create the culture that supports the use of the tool. Business applications that enable collaboration are less likely to be useful if organizational politics take precedence over cooperation. Unveiling a whole new way of working probably won’t please employees who traditionally resist change.
But what if you and your people are ready for change? What if you’ve put in the time, the effort, and the resources to start solving deeper organizational problems? How do you bring the ideas you imagine to life?
Evaluate aging systems.
The truth is that often, businesses struggle to go the last mile in their digital transformation efforts because the people who can actually deliver the transformative functionality are overloaded.
Over the course of decades, organizations invested heavily in legacy enterprise systems and business data. And those systems are aging—even cloud-based enterprise systems. Siloed applications that don’t talk to each other force employees to address customers based on the limitations of the applications they use.
But, even as business users struggle to use multiple outdated systems to find the information they need to do their jobs, IT departments must focus the majority of their attention on maintaining those existing systems. The pressure to deliver new functionality or applications—as business requirements change rapidly—racks up backlog and technical debt.
Because of their heavy investment in enterprise systems, organizations are understandably reluctant to do anything resembling a rip-and-replace. Generations of data cannot so easily be migrated.
This historic data siloed in different systems also can’t be easily integrated. In addition to being a headache for in-house IT teams, data integration is time-consuming and costly. Additionally, data integration is only one step in the process. After you’ve found a way to connect all of your data, systems, and applications, you still have to find ways to leverage that data in meaningful ways.
When you consider that 32% of organizations interviewed by IDG in the 2018 State of Digital Business report are not even investing in digital transformation due to budget constraints, it’s easy to see why data management and integration pose a huge challenge for many organizations.
Need to get IT and the business on the same page? Learn how to bridge the customization gap between IT and the business.
What about data lakes?
When it comes to dealing with all of this data and harnessing meaningful insights from it, many organizations invest in data lakes. It’s true that with the proper oversight and management, data lakes can provide organizations with the ability to harness more data, from more sources, in less time.
However, this oversight and management can get complicated and time-consuming—and the consequences of mismanagement can be severe. Amazon Web Services notes that without defined mechanisms for cataloging and securing data in data lakes, organizations can end up with a costly “data swamp.”
All of the data organizations gather can be a goldmine. But to unearth priceless analytics, organizations need a way to easily access and capitalize upon data wherever it rests—be it in a data lake, or in multiple disparate locations like SAP, Salesforce, Oracle, Microsoft, AWS, Google, and more.
Learn how you can leverage data from multiple sources on one screen in your business apps without writing a ton of code.
Leverage what you have.
Organizations need the ability to leverage their existing investments without creating more problems and racking up debt (both monetary and technical).They need to give users the ability to actually access and use that data in ways that help them serve more customers, and serve them better. Your systems and your processes are only as good as the data inside them.
Culturally, people are ready for the easy, intuitive interfaces they use in their consumer lives to expand into their workplaces. And businesses are ready, too. With more user-friendly solutions that actually match the way employees work, businesses are more productive and spend less time and resources on training people how to use the system.
So how do you do it? Just ask GE Oil & Gas—now Baker Hughes, a GE company.
Read GE’s success story.
GE Oil & Gas, like many other Fortune 500 companies, was rapidly moving into Industry 4.0. To truly transform, the company had to change the way people worked with each other.
As one of GE’s younger companies, GE Oil & Gas was stitched together over a decade with acquisitions totaling upwards of $11 billion. That’s a lot to integrate into one company, providing technology, products and services and giving customers a consistently great experience.
GE Oil & Gas found there was too much variety in digital user experiences, and that didn’t make it as easy as it should be to obsess about customer outcomes. They needed better systems, processes, and a renewed digital culture to grow.
GE Oil & Gas rewired their entire commercial organization, redesigned their entire spectrum of commercial processes, and glued it together with a new, fresh commercial platform built with Skuid.
With Skuid, the company transitioned from only 30% of their commercial team members logging in to Salesforce, to 100% adoption. And they now operate “as the crow flies,” creating solutions in real time rather than months and years. They’re seeing new deals made and a dramatic increase in efficiency across the business.
Digital transformation sells magazines. Digital transformation is a major revenue source for the consulting houses of the world. They’re all great articles and provide inspiration. Tie that to the perspiration of our journey and you’ll have another lens to view this 4.0 thing from.
Create and iterate.
GE’s ongoing success with digital transformation demonstrates how you can make the most of your existing tech stack and deliver customized solutions that take multiple stakeholders into account. Different teams and individuals can see their whole world in one window, while developers can execute faster to focus on even more innovative projects across the company.
GE succeeds because they can access their data where it lies, and bring that data seamlessly into their business applications to gather valuable insights and swiftly take action.
GE also understands that no application is perfect the first time out—which is why they’re committed to ongoing optimization and iteration.
Going the last mile in our digital transformations isn’t simple—but it’s worth it. It’s time to finish what we started. Businesses need to connect to their data and deliver made-to-order solutions to their users, without driving up technical debt.