It’s no secret or surprise that to remain relevant and meet customer expectations, businesses across the globe need to adapt ever more quickly to new and disruptive applications and services.
According to survey data from “Digital Enterprise Services Insights: The Digital Agenda in South Africa, 2019−20”, simplifying IT and developing agile methodologies is the number one ICT priority for South African enterprises.
So, what is standing in their way?
The digital hurdle – complexity in IT
Perhaps the most prominent challenge faced by many organisations when successful digital transformation initiatives are on the agenda, is the increased levels of complexity.
This is brought about by the many layers that digital technologies add to an organisation’s IT infrastructure.
Director of Strategic Content for the CIO Executive Council (CEC), Tim Scannel pointed out a very simple and clear example from a digital performance company of the impact of incremental complexity.
He related that a single web or mobile transaction today touches about 35 different technology systems or applications as compared with 22 components five years ago.
Simplifying IT is an essential task for any organisation that wants to stay competitive. In an ideal situation, IT simplification and digital transformation go hand in hand.
How to simplify IT
With this in mind, here are some practical pointers on how to simplify IT, eliminate complexity and prepare for digital transformation:
1. Think about WHAT you want to do from a business perspective
The first step in simplifying your IT is to establish what exactly you want to achieve from a business perspective. Divide goals into various activities, knowing that some will work and lead to a solution, and some will not.
Don’t worry about how it will be done, rather focus on the bigger business picture and let your IT department or partner establish the step-by-step way forward.
2. Get the basics right
Make sure that your corporate policies and processes are not getting in the way of digital or online transformation by forcing physical actions such as signing hard copies of documents.
Secondly, review your data architecture to ensure it gives a single version of the truth, and that it makes provision for the data elements that will deliver downstream insights.
3. Remove bottlenecks
Trim management layers, optimise spans of control and ensure that the business functions and IT are aligned.
4. Use intelligent demand management
Gain a clear understanding of the IT resources available along with the cost drivers needed to keep daily operations running AND take on new projects.
Ensure that you have the appropriate number of staff in the IT department and that they have the necessary expertise and digital skills to act on the demand created from business side.
5. Choose your tools wisely
There are so many ‘shiny’ (and often expensive) digital tools in the marketplace. You need to carefully evaluate which ones will actually help you achieve your specific business objectives.
Look for ways to consolidate and terminate existing applications or replace them with alternatives to simplify the data landscape.
6. Don’t need to own it? Don’t!
Where possible, use cloud-based versus on-premise infrastructure to reduce CapEx and remove the hassle of maintaining and updating systems.
7. Start small
Shift your primary attention away from complex backend systems and focus more on user-centric front-end systems.
Make a list of the smaller, more manageable actions you can take now to develop less complicated solutions and start with those.
The idea is to remain flexible and be able to quickly change direction if necessary.
8. Partner with the professionals
An expert partner with a wealth of experience and a different perspective can help your business break through the clichés that complicate digital transformation.