Digital transformation: 5 steps your company must take to succeed instead of survive

Digital transformation

COVID-19 has changed the way companies think about digital transformation because it has accelerated the need to increase business connectivity while operating from decentralized settings.

Chief Technology Officers (CTOs) have been tasked with keeping their places of business at the forefront of the latest tech innovations. In a recent Gartner survey, 47 percent of respondents said their CTO is dedicated to modernizing core technology infrastructure in order to spur innovation.

When it comes to digital transformation, there are a few steps your company should take to make sure it’s staying ahead of the curve and not trailing behind the competition. Whether it is instituting fully remote working policies or migrating to the cloud, there are a number of digital strategies that CTOs and their companies should not miss out on.

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Digital transformation is on the rise across industries, as coronavirus spurred a widespread adoption of digital tactics for workplaces around the world. More than half of companies surveyed said following March of last year that they would increase spending on digital transformation strategies.

Let’s look at the ways in which your company can stay ahead of digital evolution.

Before you actually introduce more tech advancements that we’ll go through below, first it’s important to prepare your employees for the forthcoming cultural change. If staff don’t understand the tech you're deploying or refuse to work with it, then you’ve wasted a lot of time and money.

For example, it’s well known that doctors hate using their electronic health records (EHRs) and their general resistance to it has held back more widespread telehealth adoption. Nearly two-thirds of doctors feel that having to use EHRs hinders their efficiency.

That’s why it is critical you define for employees why you are making the technological changes. Communicating your company’s vision will keep workers motivated and willing to support your mission, as long as they see that the modernized tech solutions are working for them and the business.

Digital transformation is about people first. However, not all attempts at digital transformation are successful. In fact, an estimated 70 percent fail. According to Anita Ghosh, the CEO of Bridjr, that’s largely because they forget about the human elements that this technology is supposed to help foster in the first place. The businesses that prioritize human connections with their digital transformation strategy will be the ones who come out on top. At the end of the day, it will be those same workers who are required to pull a lot of the slack.

Nearly a third of IT workers polled in a Software One survey said it’s actually the regular workers -- not executives -- who drive digital transformation at a company.

Both employers and employees had to be flexible to make remote work function well over the last year. Teams across fields like marketing, product and development had to remain productive while not working out of a centralized office space.

The uptick in production and general popularity among workers have led many to believe that remote work will not be going anywhere anytime soon. In fact, work-from-home practices could rise by 300 percent sometime this year compared to its pre-pandemic levels, according to an expert prediction by Forrester.

Taking the morning commute out of the equation and having the lines blurred between home life and work-life meant that productivity increased during COVID-19 lockdowns. Certainly, companies need to be more cognizant than ever of the work-life balance and addressing workers’ mental health needs. But it’s clear that people are able to get more work done from their homes. Remote workers end up working 1.4 more days per month or 16.8 days more per year, on average, than office workers.

On the downside, however, remote work may only benefit people who have already established their careers. Promotions and raises typically go to those near the sphere of influence, which tends to occur in the office. It’s something for companies to keep in mind as more and more flexibility will be granted to people working remotely.

To maintain this widespread remote work across your office, security needs to be top of mind. Enforcing two-factor authentication, implementing content delivery network (CDN) services, and ensuring Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) mitigation is essential to keeping your data and your clients’ data secure.

Hackers have been busy during the pandemic as they try to take advantage of workers whose devices are unsecure at home. DDoS attacks have been occurring more frequently than ever, with nearly 5 million happening in the first half of 2020 alone.

If you’re starting from scratch when it comes to updating your security measures, you may want to consider hiring an outside cybersecurity firm that can get your IT team up to date with the most modern solutions. That way they can perform tests and tell you where your biggest vulnerabilities lie -- whether it be through email, devices or your webpage.

It’s also important that internal security measures be done in conjunction with honing the security skills of the people you have on staff. Through virtual meetings or exercises where you go over the threat of phishing attacks or security breaches, you can successfully hammer home the importance of all your employees being secure while they work away from an office.

With your IT team or outsourced security experts, you can then do department-by-department checks to make sure everyone has safe Wi-Fi, is using strong passwords and has the most up-to-date antivirus software.

If you’re not on the cloud yet, you know you must be after 2020. This past year made it crystal clear that people need access to their information anywhere and anytime.

Cloud spending rose by 37 percent during the first quarter of 2020 as companies had to quickly adapt to the start of the pandemic.

But before they migrate to the cloud, enterprises need to make sure they are up to speed. It’s not as simple as just migrating all your existing framework to cloud services, as companies have to first make sure their infrastructure is cloud-ready.

Securing the cloud will have to be done internally by the company, as you cannot simply rely on Amazon, Microsoft, Google, or other big tech brands to do this for you.

If and when you can transfer large chunks of your business to the cloud, know too that your company can delegate certain functions to third-party services. For example, authentication apps can be done through Auth0 and your database can be managed through MongoDB Atlas.

If you’re still running manual tests on your applications, you’re never going to outpace your competitors. Automation should now be considered an essential part of any successful digital transformation. 

And business leaders have come to realize how important automation is to their operations. In a recent survey, 92 percent of executives polled said that increasing automation processes is a top priority due to COVID-19.

Automated solutions can save precious staff time for less mundane tasks. It will also cut down overhead costs and can directly lead to higher profit margins, which is crucial following the economic uncertainty that has come about with the pandemic.

In addition, automated testing and continuous delivery allow teams to deploy products at a faster pace, and the only way you learn the value of your product is by getting it in the customer’s hands. That’s why more than half of business executives say that their companies saw an immediate boost in productivity after instituting AI solutions, according to a PwC survey.

The past year has been a wake-up call for companies all over the world to modernize and get up to speed. As the makeup of our daily work lives has changed dramatically, businesses have had to keep up through digital advancements.

Remote work, cloud adoption and retooled cybersecurity efforts are just some of the measures that businesses can take to have a digital transformation and stay ahead of the competition.

Image credit: Olivier26/depositphotos.com

Felipe Fernandes is Chief Commercial Officer, Talos Digital

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