Digital transformation promises major change for business and IT, says ManageEngine’s Iyengar
Digital transformation is a broad term, and with good reason: it holds the potential not only for organisations to reinvent how they function internally but also how they engage with and support customers. What is more, it promises significant change for the role of an IT department within the business – a point I will return to later.
The internal-facing digital transformation has already been happening in some organisations. This has been a slow incremental change that began several years ago as lines of business such as HR, finance and marketing began using new kinds of applications in order to improve how they work. Many large organisations had chafed at the long times they needed to reach a consensus, so one of the most notable improvements from this trend has been faster decision making, based on collaborative working.
Mobility, together with cloud computing has been a powerful combination in delivering that initial stage of digital transformation. Firstly, mobility freed executives from their desks without cutting off their access to data. With relevant information ready to hand at any location, managers and business leaders can make decisions faster. Secondly, the cloud platforms provide large storage and powerful computing power to analyse and present that data in lots of different ways.
Cloud is also the reason why next-generation technologies like artificial intelligence and analytics are becoming a reality now. AI requires a lot of storage and processing power that is easily available through cloud platforms today. Without that capability, organisations would need supercomputers. One example of this capability is in chatbots, which have moved from the consumer environment to the enterprise space. Intelligent chatbots, or automated service agents, can deliver consistent customer support and improved responsiveness, while reducing the cost of operations.
I believe there are no barriers to adoption. Security is a consideration in today’s climate, but cloud and mobile providers have the economies of scale that allow them to invest more in security and data protection than any individual enterprise can. As organisations start to use more of these technologies, they will quickly get validation that it improves efficiency, reduces the cost of core operations and results in better customer engagement.
As I alluded to above, IT’s role will change in the face of digital transformation. I believe this change will be a positive one. IT will be critical in delivering and enabling digital transformation. This might not have seemed obvious at first. When cloud applications first appeared in business, many IT departments and technology leaders saw a potential threat to their roles. Lines of business could bypass the IT department to access applications. In fact, those business functions have realised they still need a trusted partner to work with the vendors. IT has become the vendor manager, sitting between the business and these new technology providers.
With digital transformation, IT’s authority and influence in the business will increase. When a head of IT or CIO can usher in new transformative technologies cost-effectively, reliably and securely, while managing risk, they prove IT’s true value to the business.
Sridhar Iyengar is vice president of ManageEngine