Overcoming the digital challenges

What does enterprise digitalisation actually mean? Stephen Warburton, Managing Director Indirect Channels at Zen, has all the answers.

Enterprise digitalisation means different things to different people. For instance, is it the rapid move to the delivery of services from the cloud or the increasing simplification of once complex enterprise IT? Is it the automation of processes and tasks previously carried out by people, or the trend towards mobility and an 'anything from anywhere at any time' philosophy? It can be all these and more, and for that reason I don’t find the term helpful.

The goal has to be to deliver some real value to the business and the customer. I think the word 'transform' needs to be used carefully though. Certainly it can be transformational but I think for many it’s more of an evolution than a revolution. Typically, a business gradually moves to a different way of operating that steadily delivers new sources of revenue, opens up new markets, creates opportunity to innovate and differentiate and delivers improvements in operational efficiency. Digital transformation can increase margins and, most importantly of all, lead to a better user experience. But for many companies this isn’t trivial and doesn’t happen overnight.

There are a number of challenges. Firstly, gaining the buy-in of key stakeholders around the business. I still think investment in IT can sometimes be seen as a 'nice to have' rather than an enabler that will deliver real business benefit. Despite many success stories of businesses that have increased sales, reduced operating costs, improved margin and increased customer satisfaction through IT innovation, it shouldn’t be taken for granted that such investments will sail through.

Another key challenge is education. Many businesses are not aware of how to take advantage of new technologies. Technology can sometimes seem intimidating, and some businesses don't know where to start. I also think there is a challenge with understanding user and customer expectation. They are changing quickly, with their demands increasing exponentially. Those businesses that don’t recognise this and change accordingly face the real risk of being left behind.

A good place to start is talking to trusted colleagues, customers and suppliers. Get as much input as you can to help you understand the benefits, pitfalls, risks and challenges of digitalisation and how to overcome them. Conduct online research too. There is often no need to reinvent the wheel.

At Zen we simply give honest advice and guidance to our partners. We have invested heavily in recent years in training our people in the latest technologies and bringing in new people with experience of a wide variety of technology platforms. That means we are able to give good, honest advice about the best solution for a particular customer. We are also sharing our own experiences as our business responds to the changing demands of our users and our people.