Four myths of digital transformation
Most businesses are now making digital transformation projects a priority, with a recent Forrester study suggesting that 85% of them will invest in digital initiatives this year. But while there is great promise around digital transformation, it’s certainly not always plain sailing. In fact, confusion and misinformation around digital projects could stop a digital revolution in its tracks.
Companies that are unable to effectively embrace digital ways of business are getting left behind by the competition. In a 2017 survey, UK CIOs gave digital laggards a lifespan of just over five years before going out of business or being absorbed by a competitor – caught in a downward spiral of poorer customer experience, lost customers, lower revenue and fewer resources. The recent demise of Toys R Us and Maplin are prime examples of big brands that paid an even bigger price for not changing with the times.
When it comes to staying ahead of the digital death knell, there are lessons for bigger and smaller businesses alike and no company should feel excluded from the digital revolution. To demonstrate this, let’s bust four common digital transformation myths:
1) “We have to spend big to make digital work”
IDC estimates that enterprises will spend more than $2 trillion on digital transformation in 2019. At face value, there’s no way smaller businesses can compete with this kind of financial firepower, but money doesn’t always equal success. Indeed, CIOs admitted that 84% of their digital transformation projects were cancelled, delayed or reduced in scope. Blindly pumping money into a digital revolution is clearly not the answer – businesses must focus on how to spend, not just how much.
Digital innovation has largely been democratised over the last decade. The rise of subscription pricing models and cloud-based technologies makes it easy for even micro businesses to afford and adopt the right tools. When it comes to tools and technologies, small investments can go a long way.
2) “We don’t have the resources to go through a digital transformation”
In the 2017 survey of IT decision makers mentioned above, the biggest barrier to successful digital transformation was perceived to be a lack of resources – including having the right people to implement and manage the process. That said, the companies that may feel ‘resource-constrained’ are typically quite agile, as they’re not as constrained by internal processes and large legacy technology estates. This means that they can be much more reactive to changes in the wider market and roll-out new technologies, or replace old ones, more easily than global corporations could.
3) “Customers are still forgiving and aren’t bothered about digital”
Perhaps this used to be the case, but not today. Today’s consumers have come to expect the same always-on, personalised service from all the companies they do business with. Whether selling to consumers or another small or large business, the rise of the internet giants and developments in digital marketing have made end users used to multi-channel engagement – that is, being able to interact with their suppliers in whichever way is most preferable to them.
If a customer can’t interact with you on their terms, in all likelihood, they’ll simply go elsewhere – whether you are competing with international, national or local companies, today, a key differentiator against any competition is customer engagement, and digital is a huge differentiator.
4) “We will never have enough customers to justify going digital”
Remember, many of the biggest digital leaders today were founded in the last 10-15 years. They have seen the volume of customer interactions skyrocket in a relatively short space of time. Of course, not every business is going to become the next overnight sensation like Pokémon GO, but it’s still worth taking a leaf out of their book when it comes to two key elements of digital transformation: scalability and reliability. Businesses need the capability to scale quickly to meet any unforeseen spikes in demand. It’s also important to make sure that business can continue to run smoothly in other circumstances, such as if employees suddenly need to work remotely or the physical office is impacted by a natural disaster, or company files are infected with ransomware.
It’s time to reassess your digital needs
When it comes to digital transformation, many businesses need to change their perspective – viewing technology as an enabler, not just a line item on the cost spreadsheet. The good news for businesses of any size, is that it’s never been easier to leverage technology to provide the kind of seamless employee and end user experience that is fundamental to any successful digital transformation. Small and big businesses alike are in a very strong position to disrupt their market place with their own digital revolution if they listen to their audience and offer the best possible experience through digital platforms that work for their customers.
Perry Krug, Principal Architect, Couchbase
GfK and VMware: Innovating together on hybrid cloud
GfK has been the global leader in data and analytics for more than 85 years, supplying its clients with optimised decision inputs.
In its capacity as a strategic and technical partner, VMware has been walking GfK along its digital transformation path for over a decade.
“We are a demanding and singularly dynamic customer, which is why a close partnership with VMware is integral to the success of everyone involved,” said Joerg Hesselink, Global Head of Infrastructure, GfK IT Services.
Four years ago, the Nuremberg-based researcher expanded its on-premises infrastructure by introducing VMware vRealize Automation. In doing so, it laid a solid foundation, resulting in a self-service hybrid-cloud environment.
By expanding on the basis of VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management, GfK has given itself a secure infrastructure and reliable operations by efficiently operating processes, policies, people and tools in both private and public cloud environments.
One important step for GfK involved migrating from multiple cloud providers to just a single one. The team chose VMware.
“VMware is the market leader for on-premises virtualisation and hybrid-cloud solutions, so it was only logical to tackle the next project for the future together,” says Hesselink.
Migration to the VMware-based environment was integrated into existing hardware simply and smoothly in April 2020. Going forward, GfK’s new hybrid cloud model will establish a harmonised core system complete with VMware Cloud on AWS, VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management and a volume rising from an initial 500 VMs to a total of 4,000 VMs.
“We are modernising, protecting and scaling our applications with the world’s leading hybrid cloud solution: VMware Cloud on AWS, following VMware on Google Cloud Platform,” adds Hesselink.
The hybrid cloud-based infrastructure also empowers GfK to respond to new and future projects with astonishing agility: Resources can now be shifted quickly and easily from the private to the public cloud – without modifying the nature of interaction with the environment.
The gfknewron project is a good example – the company’s latest AI-powered product is based exclusively on public cloud technology. The consistency guaranteed by VMware Cloud on AWS eases the burden on both regular staff and the IT team. Better still, since the teams are already familiar with the VMware environment, the learning curve for upskilling is short.
One very important factor for the GfK was that VMware Cloud on AWS constituted an investment in future-proof technology that will stay relevant.
“The new cloud-based infrastructure comprising VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation forges a successful link between on-premises and cloud-based solutions,” says Hesselink. “That in turn enables GfK to efficiently develop its own modern applications and solutions.
“In market research, everything is data-driven. So, we need the best technological basis to efficiently process large volumes of data and consistently distill them into logical insights that genuinely benefit the client.
“We transform data and information into actionable knowledge that serves as a sustainable driver of business growth. VMware Cloud on AWS is an investment in a platform that helps us be well prepared for whatever the future may hold.”