Digital transformation vs. continuity: how to win IT's biggest battle

clock • 4 min read
Evolving rapidly doesn't have to mean rip and replace
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Evolving rapidly doesn't have to mean rip and replace

Transformation is often at odds with continuity – but it doesn't have to be

Competing IT priorities are putting organisations in the hot seat. Pressure is mounting to embrace mature digital solutions that drive competitiveness and help meet the demands of an evolving digital economy. But the challenge lies in running and transforming at the same time - starting one without stopping the other. If the strategy, implementation and system resilience aren't robust enough, enterprises face the danger of interrupted services and downtime.

Spending on transformation continues to rise in reaction to the pandemic and the digital resilience it has demanded, but spending alone does not guarantee success nor solve this problem. The dilemma of meeting today's needs without hampering tomorrow's opportunity jeopardises these investments, with possibilities of accruing significant technical debt, oversubscription to services and an unwieldy tech stack. Yet, ignoring the need for digital maturity is not an option. Transformation is often at odds with continuity - but it doesn't have to be.

Businesses can sooth conflicting priorities by taking a less wholesale, more practical approach to deployments - embracing the need to update as and when needed while bolstering foundations for the future.

Starting with strategy

Sound digital foundations span people, processes, operations - the whole business function. And so the technology roadmap must meet these needs. Does it support additional internet-based operations and manage network traffic optimally? Is it secure, without hampering collaboration across a more distributed workforce? Is it accessible? And how is it utilising new data?

To make sense of what could be an endless stream of considerations, it's easier to break it down into a strategy led by four objectives: accelerating application delivery, simplifying IT transformation, strengthening cyber resilience, and analysing critical data in time to act. Hit the mark for all of them, and your organisation has built the foundation of large-scale digital transformation: a modernisation initiative that leverages previous investments and current processes, lowers the disruption risk, and achieves a faster return on investment.

Playing your strengths

Evolving rapidly doesn't have to involve a rip-and-replace process. In fact, we'd advise against wholesale change. Forty five per cent who opt for it are 'not satisfied' or 'disappointed', and a similar percentage experienced low ROI. It's a brutal process with inherent and, arguably, unacceptable risks. Fortunately, there's a better way. By upgrading the previous IT investments that created the intellectual property on which the business now thrives, organisations can keep things running for the short term while also transforming to meet new opportunities.

Take a move from on-premises to the cloud, for example. It's important to understand that overhauling your infrastructure to the cloud may not always be the best solution. Before rushing into a fully cloud-based solution, you need to dig into what really needs to be updated. The route with the right result depends on business specific needs and will determine whether you should opt for mainframe-centric, cloud-first, a hybrid approach, DevOps-driven or service-oriented, for instance.

Make previous investments work harder for you with a scalable approach to modernisation - updating and supplementing rather than replacing. Using scalable on-demand provisioning through SaaS/IaaS, businesses can evolve while controlling costs. Additional users and applications are added as you grow, so that you don't have to take a blow to budget, nor have 100 per cent clarity on what resource you'll need down the line. In times of high uncertainty, this offers the best of both worlds - running and transforming at the same time.

The time is now

When most DX journeys take three to five years and the IT landscape continually evolves within that time, transformation can seem forever out of reach. A 2021 Digital Transformation report by Micro Focus revealed that 46 per cent of organisations had not started their DX journey. What's more, many see the struggle to get strategies off the ground continuing to be a challenge. In fact, 36 per cent of those respondents think they will still be planning in a year's time.

But you don't have to go it alone. Lean on a reliable transformation expert to guide continuous transformation based on best practices and real-world knowledge. One who can help organisations define priorities and map an approach to triumph right now and for the road ahead.

Micro Focus is one of the world's largest enterprise software providers. For over 40 years, our mission-critical technologies and services help more than 40,000 customers worldwide solve their digital dilemmas. Strengthened by a top-10 patent portfolio and expert professional services, our broad set of technology for security, IT operations, application delivery, governance, modernisation, and analytics provide the innovative solutions needed to simultaneously run and transform core IT functions.

In the race for digital transformation, those who take considered, incremental actions and embrace change will unleash new capabilities within existing and emerging tech stacks, and ultimately come out on top.

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