Transformation Without Direction Is Meaningless

G. Barton
G. Barton

Summary Bullets:

  • Digital transformation projects should have a clearly targeted business benefit.
  • Enterprises should challenge providers to offer clear use cases and help them to identify how their businesses can achieve impactful change.

‘Digital transformation’ is a term apparent in the marketing material of almost every service provider and technology vendor in the IT and communications industries.  It is, in full honesty, beloved of analysts.  In fairness to both, digital transformation is a term that enterprises recognize and one that they use themselves when talking about their IT upgrade cycles – but this does not mean the term is particularly instructive or meaningful.

GlobalData has spoken to multiple enterprises that have stated they are either cancelling or delaying previously planned transformation projects.  The easy explanation for this is the pandemic – often because of economic uncertainty if nothing else.  But the symptoms, and indeed their route causes, will be in evidence for the long term.  Cloud adoption has affected network architecture, while hybrid working has challenged the IT stack at almost every level.  And all of this comes under changing societal expectations which are making companies question the way they do business.

These challenges in an uncertain world mean that large and slow projects are no longer fit for purpose.  Enterprises are rightly seeking agility and flexibility; long-term lock-in is now anathema.  Businesses should rightly challenge their service providers and technology partners to deliver business solutions.  For the largest companies, this means bespoke engagements that get to the core of what a company is trying to achieve.  For smaller businesses, this means a more verticalized and specialized range of off-the-shelf solutions that are sold on what they deliver, not on what they are.

A strong example of this is in the area of AI and automation.  Businesses GlobalData has spoken to have stated that AI has, overall, been a very successful technology.  However, it has not always worked, and where it has failed, it has been because the use case was not identified at the beginning stages of the project.

5G is another area where we are seeing a similar scenario.  Businesses are aware that the technology is powerful, and they are eager to use it.  Yet, in many instances, this ambition is limited to using 5G as a backup service for existing fixed connectivity.  The onus is very much on technology companies to work with enterprises to show them how 5G can deliver material benefits and enhance the way they do business.

Selling technology doesn’t work.  Selling solutions is the future.

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