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Overcoming the barriers to digital transformation

Overcoming the barriers to digital transformation
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Digital transformation has been on the agenda of business leaders and IT departments alike for some time now. And for good reason. The promise of improved operational efficiencies, faster time to market and better employee collaboration is too great for many to ignore. According to recent research, 70% of companies already either have a digital transformation strategy in place or are working on one.

About the author

Nick Offin, Head of Sales, Marketing and Operations, Dynabook.

However, the road to a digital-first workforce isn’t an easy one and although digital transformation efforts are underway in most organisations, many common challenges remain. The top barriers range from insufficient budgets and cybersecurity concerns to legacy systems and the adoption of new technologies. Mobility and the rise of mobile working, which go hand in hand with digital transformation, also pose a challenge. 

Despite these potential challenges, for many businesses – whether they operate in retail, finance or manufacturing industries – it’s a matter of transform or be left behind. Tackling the hurdles to digital transformation and embracing digital change has never been more important. So, how can CTOs and IT departments overcome these common challenges and successfully transform their business into a smarter organisation?

Overcoming a lack of budget

Digital transformation obviously doesn’t come without extra investment. It’s therefore unsurprising that a common roadblock on a business’ digital transformation journey is often a lack of funds. For businesses who are lucky enough to receive greater IT budgets, much of the attention is placed on emerging technologies like AI and IoT. However, digital transformation isn’t just about shiny new technologies that transform business and operational models, it’s about change taking place at all levels – right down to the technologies that employees are using on a day-to-day basis.

Hardware remains an integral part of any IT strategy and therefore should be part of any organisation’s IT modernization efforts. Completely overhauling an employee device strategy with new devices is an expensive and time-intensive process. Not to mention managing the day-to-day device lifecycle management which adds significant complexity.

To overcome this many businesses are considering other purchasing options, such as PC-as-a-Service (PCaaS), as part of their digital transformation strategy. PCaaS, which can encompass everything from mobile devices to desktop PCs, is an Opex (operational expenditure) subscription-based model which often includes services such as purchasing, configurating, managing, refreshing and retiring devices. This means an organisation pays a monthly rate for the use of a vendor’s devices and additional services, rather than buying hardware outright (referred to as Capex). Businesses can benefit from updated technology, whilst being able to amortize device costs over time, as well as scaling up and down depending on the need.

Surmounting security concerns

The PCaaS model also provides a potential solution to another common barrier to digital transformation – security. PCaaS can encompass data backup, disaster recovery and remote wiping, giving a business the peace of mind that if the device is stolen, damaged or suffers a cyber-attack that valuable corporate data can be both wiped or recovered.

As more companies embrace digital transformation and with it mobile working strategies, this raises concerns over keeping sensitive data safe. In fact, cybersecurity concerns are a primary worry for business leaders, hindering potential organisational transformation. In a recent survey, 60% of respondents said that exposure of customer data was the largest security concern, closely followed by cybercriminal sophistication (56%) and increased threat surface (53%). 

Overcoming the growing sophistication of cybercriminals is no easy task. However, as with any IT project, it’s fundamental that businesses consider security from day zero and equip themselves with the right protective technologies to ease concerns. Devices which include advanced biometric features and hardware-based credential  storage capabilities provide a strong first line of defense.

Other security measures such as zero client solutions go even further and help nullify data-related threats by withdrawing sensitive data from the device itself. With information stored away on a central, cloud-based system, these solutions protect against unsolicited access to information if a device is lost or stolen. This is especially useful for mobile workers looking to access data outside of the office or on the move.

Leaving legacy systems behind

A new wave of technologies such as AR, 5G and IoT have been the catalyst for business-wide digital transformation efforts. However, reliance on legacy systems is posing a major bottleneck for many organisations looking to build a digital-first business. The problem is that whilst these new technologies are new and exciting, they create vast amounts of data and many organisations are struggling to efficiently scale their IT capabilities to cope with this increase in demand.

So, what’s the answer for organisations who don’t have the resources to simply ‘rip and replace’ infrastructure? Edge computing solutions enable organisations to resolve this challenge, while at the same time creating new methods of gathering, analyzing and redistributing data and derived intelligence. Processing data at the edge reduces strain on the cloud so users can be more selective of the data they send to the network core.

Digital transformation will undoubtedly remain a major part of business conversations for many years to come. Whilst it seems we’re on the way to a digital-first future, not all organisations have arrived in the digital age and there are still several challenges to overcome. With digital-first companies expected to be 64% more likely to meet their business goals, the benefits for those embracing digital transformation are clearer than ever – they’ll just need to overcome a few stumbling blocks along the way.