Two years into the COVID crisis and few organisations have not had the full weight of digital transformation forced on them by circumstance - even if they were already on their way in their cloud and mobile journeys.
While most transformations might not have taken place overnight, the pandemic has certainly seen a dramatic acceleration of moves towards a more demand-driven and cloud-based IT environment.
A new Computing white paper, produced in partnership with Intel, finds that, while many organisations had begun their digital transitions long before Covid hit, the pandemic led to transformation plans being prioritised in almost three-quarters of cases.
"Enterprises are seeking increased efficiencies, reduced costs, facilitated remote working, a better employee experience, and improved security," says the research. Adding, "The last three of these are deeply interconnected."
However, while remote working and employee productivity are key drivers of change, the most widely cited impetus for transformation remains lower costs and improved efficiency.
The race that never ends
But at what point can organisations look around them and say ‘We have transformed our business'? Or is the reality a process of constant change and renewal?
The paper finds that while over three-quarters (78 percent) of organisations say they have begun their digital transitions, 17 percent say they are still planning or initiating them, and 37 percent are still carrying out the bulk of their plans.
At the other end of the scale, only one-quarter (27 percent) have transitioned to a cloud-first environment, while just 14 percent consider themselves to be both cloud-first and technologically mature.
Notably, only 45 percent of organisations say they had a clearly defined digital strategy from the outset, suggesting that over half of respondents have been playing catch-up reactively as the new world of work emerges.
Hurdles & takeaways
Computing found that biggest obstacles at the beginning of the process were security and compliance. Spiralling costs and a lack of skills are the most frequently encountered during transformation, while operating costs are the biggest issue after cloud migration is complete.
These caveats aside, transformation is still not always straightforward: it is both a technological change and a cultural one, which demands a new approach to management and support.
In other words, it's not a simple matter of ‘click here to transform your business'. For example, nearly half of IT leaders (48 percent) report a loss of productivity alongside increased downtime, because of cloud security failures.
While half of IT leaders are satisfied with their digital transformation programmes, only nine percent of these rate them as "extremely satisfactory". The other 41 percent say transformation has been "somewhat satisfactory".
Yet many organisations can still say "achievement unlocked" in terms of business continuity during the crisis.
According to the survey, the goals of digital transformation that are most likely to have been reached are remote working, reinforced company reputation, the launch of new products and business models, and ongoing security.
IT decision-makers need to be leaders, enablers, and good managers of their teams, if they are to maximise payback for their businesses.
Discover how you can lead your organisation in its ongoing transformation, in Computing's latest research paper: Digital transformation: How do you win the race that never ends?
This post is funded by Intel