As digital transformation strategies dominate the boardroom agenda, Australian business leaders know they must become digital.
Triggered by emerging technologies such as cloud and the Internet of Things (IoT), pilot phases are coming to an end as organisations explore mainstream adoption.
Yet despite appetite increasing, a clear definition of digital transformation is still lacking, creating confusion across the channel.
“The overall definition in a business context is more difficult to define as the term of digital transformation can mean different objectives and success factors for each business,” Synnex Australia general manager of ecommerce and cloud services Michael Tea said.
“For the Synnex Cloud team we define digital transformation as using digital technology to gain better data insights to allow us to create new innovative solutions and business values for our channel partners.
“Each one of our business units and external partners would have their own definition of digital transformation.”
As organisations scale up business ambitions across Australia — through adopting a ‘digital-first’ approach — the search for best practice is underway.
But while digital may appear a futuristic concept, the notion of getting closer to the customer is not new, with history serving up answers and solutions for organisations.
“Most people would agree that we commenced the transformation of businesses through digital technologies with the introduction of mainframe computers in the 1970s,” ICT Networks CEO Rob Kingma said.
“Since then each of the major technology waves such the PC, the internet, web 2.0, smartphones, wireless data and cloud, has presented opportunities for businesses.
“The opportunities have centred on getting closer to their customer’s buying decisions, through collecting and collating more data on buyers and automating processes in the manufacturing and delivery of products and services to those buyers.
“In other words, each wave of technology has allowed businesses to better identify and service micro markets at lower costs.”
According to Kingma, digital transformation introduces the next wave of technologies — such as cloud, IoT, machine learning and artificial intelligence — to assist businesses to better identify and service the needs of customers.
“While there may be a standard menu of technologies utilised to deliver the vision, it is a broad and somewhat ill-defined catch all,” Kingma added. “Partners need to define where and how they will add value to customers.”
Echoing Kingma’s observations, Tea advised partners to take the lead during customer engagements, driving digital transformation discussions to remain relevant.
“Articulating the benefits will require the right digital consultancy services and solutions that can align with the transformation objectives of the customer to make the value proposition more compelling,” Tea explained.
“By articulating best practices that have worked well for other customers, this will allow partners to articulate the benefits in a way that other clients can relate to.
“This could be proof of concepts, champion accounts and successful journeys to show customers that the partner has the experience to produce the outcome that they seek.”
In assessing the market through a technological lens however, as organisations transition to digital business, a lack of directly owned infrastructure and services outside of IT’s control will need to be addressed by cyber security.
According to Gartner research, by 2020, 60 per cent of digital businesses will suffer major service failures due to the inability of IT security teams to manage digital risk.
“We see the need for anti-malware security providers to continually up their game and evolve their threat detection technologies,” Avast Software sales manager of Australia Daniel Parks added.
“This will help identify and stop threats while also making it easy for the channel to deliver the security services needed and even easier for their business customers to put these services in place.”
In the context of digital, security remains a critical part of equation, alongside the growing need to protect company data and assets.
“All this extra digital data needs to be backed up, recoverable and accessible to ensure business continuity and maintain a positive customer perception,” Barracuda vice president of Asia Pacific James Forbes-May said.
“Digital transformation can definitely help organisations but if the data is not protected and secured it can in fact be incredibly damaging to revenues and reputations.”
While the idea of shifting toward digital business was speculative for most CEOs a few years ago, it has become a reality for many in 2017, with leaders challenged to make progress amid an increasingly competitive market landscape.
“Customers are deploying digital transformation strategies because the customer experience demands it,” ASI Solutions managing director Nathan Lowe said. “Where it works best is when the executive team are an advocate for digital transformation and implement change within the context of an end-vision.