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By Sean Rogers

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The year has come to a close more quickly than I would like and I find myself reflecting on the digital transformation projects I’ve been involved with over the past 12 months. This definitely was the year of digital transformation. It was everywhere – in the blogs, the IT press and on everyone’s lips. Tell me of a day you didn’t hear these two words spoken in the office, among your customers, or with your partners. And, yes, identity is a key component of digital transformation. Security vendors like RSA, ForgeRock, BeyondTrust and CyberArk position the management of identity credentials, across the enterprise, as the cornerstone of rapid and successful digital transformation.

Knowing who is accessing what, where and how across the enterprise is just as critical as ever. However, the stakes have risen for corporations with the implementation of GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation). ‘Know your customer’ is now a large part of the value-add attached to digital transformation initiatives; user’s ‘likes’ and ‘preferences’ are a highly sought after commodity. With this, users are demanding better privacy assurances on how their preferences, and content usage, is being handled. The ‘right to be forgotten’ is now a defined requirement under the GDPR regulation and must be adhered to wherever EU user data resides. This affects the majority of large US corporations in operation today.

The pace of this transformation on how services and products are delivered in the marketplace is inevitably causing casualties in terms of time and dollars, and in many cases company reputations. Mistakes in technology selection, implementation, executive buy-in and realistic time frames for success is causing CEOs to be fired, and executives to leave their organisations at an alarming rate.

A recent report by Wipro Digital in 2017 stated that half of 400 U.S.-based senior executives believe their company isn’t successfully executing against 50 percent of their digital strategies. 

The report goes on to state although 91 percent of executives are aligned on what digital transformation means, only 4 percent realize half of their digital investment in under one year – with the majority of respondents saying it has taken their company 2-3 years to see at least half of these investments come to fruition.

What stood out this year for me on digital transformation:

1 It’s not all about the technology: Technology selection is important but having the best running shoes won’t make you win the race.

2 People: Have the right team in place with the right skill set to implement, advise and select solutions that will achieve you overall digital transformation goals.

3 Executive buy-in across the enterprise: The benefits of digital transformation are not confined to one department and are best supported and financed across multiple departments. The more stake-holder buy-in the less chance the initiative will be shelved for short-sighted or shifting priorities.

4 Clear goals and time frame for success: Many digital transformations have been abandoned due to unrealistic time frames. Many are abandoned within 12 months or less. But most transformations are messy and involve IT, Risk Compliance, security management processes, and sensitive business cycles. To succeed, a program needs to be first defined, agreed, supported, revisited and revised over time.

5 Help: Most enterprises no matter how large will need outside help with many of these messy moving parts to achieve a successful digital transformation. Technology is one piece of the puzzle. Just selecting a technology is time consuming and fraught with pitfalls. Working with a services company who has been down this road before is my final recommendation. Don’t leave your digital transformation to chance – it’s messy.

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