May 20, 2015

What is preventing digital transformation?

Sari Aumo

Head of Microsoft Cloud Services, Tieto

Ville Tawaststjerna

Solution Manager Collaboration and Productivity Solutions, Tieto

The necessity of a digital transformation inside organisations and the prospective benefits are generally well known. Digitalisation increases productivity, flexibility and agility and of course, saves money. The focus should now put on what is preventing or slowing down change. We can look at this through the perspective of modernising collaboration and productivity tools.

As organisations are at different stages of digitalisation, there is no one right way to make the change. For some organisations, a good step in the modernisation of collaboration and productivity tools is the introduction of a safe and simple private cloud solution, while other are more ready to move fully to public cloud services. We know from experience that cloud boosts productivity quickly and easily, irrespective of the stage at which the customer is on their cloud path. Change can therefore be carried out one step at a time.

Development of technology has changed people's behaviour; employees and customers demand more of their tools. People expect cost savings and increased productivity, as mentioned before, but also in particular the following:

  • Accessibility: It is desirable that work can be carried out anytime in any place (with a personal mobile device, at home and at work, on a computer or a tablet)
  • Cooperation: More collaboration is desired and on different collaboration platforms (e.g. Yammer, Skype for business, SharePoint services). Virtual cooperation environments also build trust among employees when communication can occur between more and more employees that are further apart from each other.
  • Ability to share and learn: There is a demand for information to be shared and received more easily so that it can be used to support decision-making. Knowledge workers particularly require continuous learning. For example, organisations can use a social intranet, such as Yammer, to support change communications, for instance as a platform for answering employees´ questions.
  • User Experience: User interfaces are demanded to be easy and smooth. The smoothness of services at home or during free time is also expected at work.
  • Functionality: Services are required to function in a trustworthy and secure manner as well as to scale in accordance with the needs in the organisation. In addition, managing them must be effortless.

When new collaboration tools, such as cloud and other digital services, can respond to all these needs, why hasn't everyone started to use them effectively?

Unfortunately, large ships turn slowly. In an ideal situation, companies would of course, carry out technology changes quickly and in one go, but it is more common that these are carried out little by little in separate units. There are several key reasons for this:

  • Silos: Silos have a strong presence in many organisations. Working in unison is still very difficult.
  • Unclear responsibilities: Responsibilities have been divided into small parts, and creating a collaboration can therefore be challenging. Occasionally there might be disagreements regarding who makes decisions about the digital services in specific areas. Is it up to the CIO, CFO or CMO to decide? The fragmentation becomes concrete when services are procured without the involvement of the IT department.
  • Clinging to data security: Data security can become a larger-than-life issue. Hiding behind data security is, however, a poor excuse for not fully utilising the advantages cloud can offer.
  • A belief exists that all the necessary services have already been procured: There are for instance companies in which a number of great cloud solutions are used, together with the latest models of smartphones, but, where on the other hand, mobile data packages do not support the use of the applications.
  • There are also other fears that may cause the organisation to resist change. Among other things, people might fear that the IT-department jobs are lost and control disappears. There is an inclination to maintain a strong, large IT-organisation, even if IT is not a key function of the company in question.

Our own view is that it is up to everyone in the organisation to deploy the new digital opportunities. It is the responsibility of management to build a vision, and this requires insight, leadership and commitment from many parties including the CIO, CFO, CEO and CMO. On the other hand, the whole organisation must accept that change is a necessary part of healthy businesses and that flexibility and agility must be maintained.

A successful example of a digital transformation is found in the logistics and maintenance functions of metal workshops and forestry industry. In those, such as in many traditional sectors, business processes have been split among several service providers, due to outsourcing. Because of well-adapted cloud solutions, many of these processes have recently become significantly more efficient.

A leap worth taking

Although the Digibarometri 2015 (in Finnish) congratulates the Finnish people in many ways, the reality we meet in our roles is that different organisations are at different stages. Even though there might not be real obstacles to implementing digital services, it is often surprisingly difficult to roll-out new productivity and cloud solutions.

Everything starts with change and a desire for change - a desire to optimise the digital services of a company in order to support its business. To us at Tieto, this means that we assist our customers on their transformation path in a comprehensive manner, not just with technological solutions. This is how we maximize the benefits to our clients.

Cloud-based digitalisation will produce unmatched benefits, but it can occasionally feel like a leap into the unknown. That leap should nevertheless be taken. There are already plenty of success stories. We have seen how a traditional intranet has been transformed from a simple means of communications into a true tool for change support in many of our customer organisations. We have also seen how an engineering company has enhanced their long project deliveries with a partner extranet built in the cloud.

The authors are:

Sari Aumo, Head of Microsoft Cloud Services, is responsible for the Microsoft ecosystem cloud services at Tieto and is a passionate spokeswoman for cloud solutions.
Ville Tawaststjerna, Solution Manager, Collaboration and Productivity, is responsible for Productivity solutions at Tieto, and the idea of adding Wi-Fi to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs always makes him smile.

You can read more about Tieto Cloud services here.

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