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  • Dejan Nenov

Digital modernization & its need in the business of today

Change is good.


We know to “Never say Never!”


Change can be beneficial in so many ways – not only drastic change, but common-sense change. I mean adopting new business-enabling technologies like cloud computing, collaboration platforms, real-time data analytics systems, or even modernizing enterprise resource planning. New, modern technology, when appropriately and cost-effectively applied, can dramatically improve existing business processes, achieve efficiencies and ultimately reduce costs.


At first, change feels painful and is always perceived as risky. An “Innovate or Die” business culture is often temper by the old “If it is not broken, do not fix it” adage. These are the most likely reasons why we did not use to see a pace of change that would seem natural for many industries. That all changed in March 2020 when we all had to take action and address our new, disrupted reality. But should this be the reason for embracing digital modernization, especially now, when we appear to be headed to some more normal, post-pandemic world?


  • If during the pandemic your organization has considered or initiated the process of re-evaluating, restructuring and modernizing business and operations processes – then the answer is clearly “YES!”.

  • If during the pandemic your organization has been struggling to gather, visualize and analyze all of the data in order to make the next strategic move – then the answer is most definitely “YES!”.

  • If you are feeling overwhelmed with too many technology choices and deluge of brand-marketing speak, especially with cloud offerings, cybersecurity, and transitions of legacy systems to cloud, or hybrid-cloud reboots then the answer must be a: “YES!”.

Adopting new, fit-to-purpose, technologies can open the door to endless innovation opportunities for the forward-thinking organization. To drive growth and productivity, many companies are moving beyond the well-established business intelligence services or generic big data processing into frameworks that allow a democratization of information access throughout the organization and a drive to real-time analytics, rather than staid “always-a-week-old” dashboards.


In Digital Modernization size matters


Almost every company understands that digital modernization, and continuous refreshing of information systems is no longer a nice-to-have, but a routine, necessary business process, similar in frequency to annual audits and benefit plan adjustments. Company size, however, most often dictates the pace and scope of technology change and innovation adoption.


Small and medium-sized enterprises are usually the ones that react much faster in order to fight for competitive advantage.


Any change and modernization processes in larger and more mature organizations companies are much more complicated because of the larger risk penalties. Our industry in the past has not been exactly exemplary in performing upgrades and updates to older, bulky IT architectures. Today, we do believe that we are able to do much better than the old truism that “Every other IT initiative is guaranteed to fail”.


We are better at identifying discrete opportunities for innovation and modernization and are able to implement in deploy in a matter of weeks, rather than months or years, which limits change disruption impact and risk. Better data handling and transformation tools and techniques allow us to ingest and redeploy historical data efficiently, without having to shutdown existing systems. Most importantly we no longer try to “boil the ocean” with the newest and greatest tech, but rather look for delivering outcomes that can be clearly understood and quantitatively measured.


Does the investment worth it?


Naturally we believe that optimizing any business process is well worth it, whether you choose to invest in technology, talent or R&D. Here are some of what we believe are clear ROI benefits of IT modernization:


  1. Business productivity. Imagine a world in which you can ask for a new software functionality, workflow, data tracking and the corresponding analytics and reporting, without having to plan budgets a year in advance and wait months for delivery. What if we could do most typical BPO modifications on the fly within at most a few weeks and usually a few days?

  2. Business innovation. Imagine that your data no longer has to linger in a data lake (which in most cases is more like a data landfill, as most of the data we dump for future use is definitely “dirty”). Leveraging common and well-established machine learning and information delivery tools like classifiers, predictive and real-time analytics, no longer needs to be an exceptionally challenging, time-consuming and costly project.

  3. IT and operational cost reduction vs. overall business value. When estimating the long-term impact of a digital modernization project we should consider not just simple TCO, but also opportunity cost. We do not subscribe to a FOMO (fear of missing out) mentality – one should never do a project just because everyone is talking about a new technology. On the other hand, if experimentation in innovation can be quick, inexpensive and measurable, it would only make sense to let the organization try out ideas and innovations. Without a doubt digitalization, the move-to-cloud gold rush, and everything-as-a-service options lower costs and increase operational efficiencies, at least in the short term. Much more importantly, however, adoption of new information technologies makes the organization more agile, more competitive, and more efficient in reacting to changing conditions. 2020 was the year of the pandemic, but what will 2021 and 2022 bring? Are we ready for whatever comes?


The risks and challenges of digital modernization.


Embracing a culture of digital modernization requires knowledge, skills and both a clear as well as flexible vision of what to change and why. Often all the necessary expertise will not be readily available from the resident IT staff and may be hard and expensive to recruit for. We believe that professional services and specialized outsourcing firms have an efficient role to play to ease the risk and complexity of these initiatives. As long as there is no long-term lock-in and a clear path to knowledge transfer and self-service, such engagements are highly effective and cost efficient.


These are some of the most common problems companies face when opting for a digital modernization:


  1. Security challenges with cloud technologies;

  2. Security risks associated with legacy platforms;

  3. Operational risk;

  4. Existing system/infrastructure limitations;

  5. Organizational aversion to change;

  6. Skills and experience deficiency in niche areas like agile team management, DevOps, analytics;

  7. Institutional memory loss – legacy systems knowledge/ documentation limitations;

  8. Lack of cloud technology skills.


Conclusion


Today’s economic reality mandates that Businesses explore digital modernization opportunities as a competitive advantage. Companies need to digitize their core businesses, launch new business models, and apply state-of-the-art technologies and BPO activities that are possible only with sophisticated IT architectures and well-coordinated technology teams.