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No matter how businesses define digital transformation, most would agree it’s a journey, not a destination.
To dig deeper into what digital transformation really means at Enavate, we hosted a discussion between Enavate experts Russ Riley and Kevin Armstrong. Russ is Director of Cloud Services and Kevin is Enterprise Strategy Leader.
Here’s what they had to say about the concept.
Russ: Everybody’s defining it differently. You can talk to 10 people, and I’m willing to bet you’re going to get 10 different responses.
I’ve been a core infrastructure and Cloud person almost all my professional career. The end state of digital transformation should be to get data that’s meaningful for the business to run that it can’t get today; it’s making the data relevant.
Kevin: For me, digital transformation in its purest form is about becoming a healthier, more efficient, more technically savvy and process-driven company by using technology to benefit your customer experience. It's realigning processes, procedures and business models and making an investment in technology to more effectively engage customers.
You can replace your systems so you could improve processes, but if your customer doesn’t experience it, you didn’t actually transform.
Russ: Exactly. It should increase employees’ productivity, increase and better the customer experience, and ultimately that should drive more revenue and profit for the company.
You can’t just throw applications at the business problem and think you’re solving everything. You have to start at the underpinning, the core infrastructure that will support these newer applications that then deliver the data. It’s not just buying a Power BI tool and flipping it on. There’s a series of events that have to occur before you get there.
Kevin: For Enavate, the importance of digital transformation is identifying the processes and procedures that might be immature, and leveraging the technologies that we represent as well as other technologies that are out there in our ecosystem. It’s never been more important than during 2020 and beyond, because our role has changed forever.
Russ: That’s right. Right now, with COVID, everybody’s trying to figure out how to do it differently because we’re all having to think differently – and quickly. However, in that quickness, people are not starting from the right place, and they’re not using process.
We talk about the journey being with someone who can actually help you define your journey to the end state of digital transformation.
Kevin: Let’s think about what happened throughout 2020. How many restaurants in your area closed down? The ones who stayed open, there’s a couple of reasons why. One is there’s passion in the community to keep that restaurant open. There’s an element of loyalty between the customer and the business.
But the companies that embraced change – some are very small companies who just had forward-thinking people who bought into an app that allowed them to transact in a different way, or created an e-commerce presence when they didn’t have one, or realized their chaotic ERP systems or supply chain systems didn’t allow somebody to return something online that they bought at the brick and mortar store. Those are transformations using technology that improved the customers’ experience.
Those people who adopted those technologies were transforming their businesses. They were saying, “I don’t have the technological capability to build out these solutions.” I’m going to partner with somebody who has the capability.
I’m going to pay a fee for it, but I’m able to engage my buyer in a different way. That’s transformation. Often, people believe digital transformation is reserved for large, enterprise companies. But we’re talking restaurants. We’re talking retail. None of those companies are in the enterprise space.
Russ: Enavate’s a great example. We haven’t been in offices since March of last year, and we have the same challenges. We have to literally eat our own dog food that we’re talking about.
COVID has changed our landscape of how we’re going to work forever because we are proving we can work remotely.
Kevin: One of our clients invested in a digital and remote platform years ago. They were prepared for this. That’s an example where somebody embraced, early on, digital transformation. That allowed them to communicate with each other and with their customers. That gave them a more streamlined process. They didn’t have the same kind of disruption other companies had when COVID hit.
That in and of itself is the value of digital transformation, when you embrace it and design your technology, processes and procedures for a future state you don’t even know about, with the goal of becoming efficient and agile, and having a great relationship with your data and analytics.
The hardest part about digital transformation is not implementing the technology, it’s deciding you’re ready to do it and prioritizing the right areas to transform. The restaurants that quickly created an online ordering presence made those decisions with a transformative mindset.
You’re either a leader or a laggard. You’re ahead of the curve, have thought it through and built a model that scales, or you’re chasing that model. An awful lot of companies fall into the chasing category.
Russ: When people say, I want to go to the Cloud, let’s talk about the why. What does that mean? To me, that’s No. 1. Define what you’re really trying to accomplish. Once you define that, you understand the first step. For example, moving pieces away from an on-premises network to a Cloud-based platform. And then maybe moving some of those applications that are legacy into a Software as a Service environment.
Enavate does a great job with that map. We can offer these different paths, creating the journey and owning that journey with the company. We’ve got the application expertise and the core Cloud infrastructure expertise. When you bring those two together, you’re really talking about a holistic solution for a client.
Kevin: It’s becoming more important that systems integrators like us take on more of a management consulting mentality. The Enavate experience bridges the gap between clients’ needs and their technology, providing solutions and long-term support, and making that seamless.
A very big part of our responsibility in the digital transformation continuum is aligning clients with industry solutions.
We can’t just provide software and services. We have to provide thought leadership and value beyond the software to help these companies adapt and scale their businesses. I don’t want to be the company that comes in and says, “Yeah, I can do that.” I want to be the company that comes in and says, “Why should I do that?”
To us, it’s personal. Part of the journey is to understand their priorities, counsel them through how to best tackle those priorities, provide solutions in an agile manner that allows them to not be in an everlasting loop of technology implementation. You want to get the benefit of something, then move on to the next thing.
Russ: A lot of people don’t take the time to understand the delivery methodology of a given partner. That’s important. People follow different delivery methodologies. There’s waterfall, there’s agile. You need to make sure those methodologies work for you, and your business and team members who will have responsibility in delivering.
When you pick a partner and start this journey of digital transformation, that’s not just a business relationship. That’s almost like a marriage.
But if the client doesn’t understand what they need to do as part of the journey, failure is imminent because they think the service provider partner can do it all. That’s not the case.
Kevin: I would focus on: How do you improve your customers’ experience and make them more successful and therefore want to invest more with you? How can you augment and add potentially new revenue lines? How can you make something more profitable? How can you allow fewer people to do more work better without overworking them?
And that requires a broader view on technology decisions, which is one of the big flaws of digital transformation. In many organizations, it’s done in silos. Each area is looking at their own individual needs and pains. We have to take it out of silos and get to a more broad, holistic view of our companies so they can understand how these decisions overlap.
At Enavate, when we help a client transform, we think beyond just selecting and implementing a technology solution to solve a problem. We want to understand their business goals, and what keeps them up at night. We learn their priorities and help them identify the most impactful starting point. Then we build a plan to scale that solution and adapt when the world inevitably changes.
The right partner can make your transformation journey a productive process, placing you in a position to embrace change and use it as an opportunity for continued growth. Are you ready to take the first step? Talk with one of our Enavate experts to define your technology roadmap.
About the Authors
Kevin Armstrong – Global Enterprise Strategy Leader, Enavate
Kevin Armstrong is an award-winning Global Enterprise Strategy and Sales Leader at Enavate. He has more than 20 years’ experience as an executive within multiple technology companies, with a primary focus on building go-to-market strategies and building performing sales teams. In his many years within the Microsoft ecosystem, Kevin has led five organizations into Microsoft's prestigious Inner Circle with his focus on culture, growth and sales excellence. He attributes his professional success in his ability to develop, train, lead and motivate sales teams to top performance while focusing on the client’s success.
Russ Riley – Director of Cloud Services, Enavate
Russ Riley is Director of Cloud Services at Enavate. Russ has more than 20 years’ combined experience in B2B and Cloud technologies. He oversees a team dedicated to unlocking clients’ business potential with the power of the Cloud. Russ has experienced first-hand the business transformation clients experience with Cloud-based private, public and hybrid solutions. A genuine people person, he attributes his professional success from always following through on what he said he would do, in his own words: “How you sell is how you deliver, and how you deliver is how you sell.”