Digital transformation hype is not reflected by reality, finds new research from Claranet

January 31, 2018 matt.castle

Major pan-European research project highlights the complexities faced by CIOs as they navigate the changing IT landscape

In the hype surrounding digital transformation, the process is often presented as one which can be completed almost overnight. However, new research commissioned by Claranet has found that the reality is considerably different, with organisations facing a wide range of organisational, technical and operational barriers to change. According to the managed services provider, if IT leaders are to successfully generate value for their organisations they must focus on iterative change, putting their applications and increased automation at the heart of IT strategy.

Formally launched today, the report – Beyond Digital Transformation: Reality check for European IT and Digital leaders – explores the responses of 750 IT decision-makers from the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Portugal and the Benelux, around how their businesses manage and host their applications and how well-placed they are to adapt to the new digital economy.

Key findings from the research include:

  • 87 per cent report barriers to implementing organisation-wide technology changes, with skills shortages in the IT department (34 per cent), a lack of time to make changes (29 per cent), and a lack of support from senior management (28 per cent) given as key reasons
  • Eight in ten (81 per cent) agree that they should experiment more with new processes and technology;
  • 48 per cent of organisations report that their IT department is stuck in a reactive mode;
  • Over half (55 per cent) state that their applications are time-consuming and complicated to maintain;
  • Just 10 per cent of respondents said that their organisation is agile with regard to its approach to IT processes.

Commenting on the research findings, Michel Robert, Claranet's UK Managing Director, said:

Business and IT leaders are facing ever-increasing amounts of pressure to transform their operations. Greater levels of competition, heightening customer demands and decreasing tolerance for technology faults and inflexible IT systems, are all creating new imperatives for change. It should come as little surprise that so many businesses have bought into the concept of 'digital transformation'.

But for most, that change will take time to implement, and while the increasingly-common term digital transformation conjures up images of overnight metamorphosis, this research confirms that the picture, especially for mid-market organisations, is much more complicated."

Organisations across Europe are gradually filtering more progressive IT practices into their operations, and there is a clear recognition of the importance of applications in improving the customer (both internal and external) experience, but barriers to the adoption of these practices exist. Only about one in ten European businesses report that their applications and the infrastructure to support them are where they need to be in terms of stability, reliability and responsiveness; IT systems are still fragmented in the majority of cases; and data sets are largely disparate, making them challenging to draw valuable insights from. While the majority of European businesses have started on their journey, it will take some time before they get there."

The term digital transformation is a misnomer, and while that might be a matter of semantics, the risk is that it widens the gap between IT and the rest of the business; the latter expecting overnight change and the former contending with increasing infrastructure complexity, skills shortages and cost-cutting pressures. This creates a real need for strong leadership to ensure IT and Digital projects have a measurable impact on improving customer experience and uniting the business to improve performance."

Robert concluded by stating that instead of the 'big bang' approach, IT leaders would be well-advised to approach things in a more focused and iterative manner, developing a philosophy of continuous improvement to boost competitive performance without having to periodically enact disruptive change.

There are right and wrong ways to move to the cloud. Simply 'lifting and shifting' an IT estate to the cloud and assuming the job is immediately done is not sufficient, and a 'big bang' approach – where businesses race to incorporate every cloud tool immediately – can lead to a loss of control and increased risk. Instead, a process of incremental change is the way to go, and enables a cloud environment to bed in and grow at a sensible pace."

Our recommendation is for businesses to do more planning before any migrations start to check whether their applications are already cloud-ready or need to be re-engineered. This is essential as changes are often required to take full advantage of automation, scalability, rapid development and other features offered in the cloud. The right strategy will vary, sometimes considerably, depending on the nature of the application, so it is crucial that this is taken into account. Successful migrations are very rarely 'lift and shift' and strong leadership, with a clear direction of travel, is required."

For more information about the research, and to download the full report, visit: www.claranet.com/research

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