digital transformation

What does a Digital Transformation look like?

Organizations everywhere are embarking on Digital Transformations — going beyond simple automation and cost savings to reach into new areas, revolutionizing their business models and discovering new growth opportunities by taking advantage of leading-edge technologies to conduct business differently. In doing so, they’re enhancing their processes, their value propositions, and their relationships with both internal stakeholders and external customers.

Innovative enterprises continue to lead the way by pursuing new solutions for digital innovation. For example, large retail companies used to rely on physical stores to showcase, house, and ultimately sell their product a decade ago. However, that industry underwent a complete Digital Transformation, ushering an e-commerce boom that demanded new platforms, processes, and standards were developed to take full advantage of digital technologies that are easy to use, deploy, patch, and maintain.

Leading companies invest heavily in developing a sound Digital Transformation strategy, and the quality of that strategic approach is paramount to the overall success of transforming a business.

Even as the IT industry is rapidly evolving, it's important to keep in mind that Digital Transformation is less of a sprint and more of a marathon. To maximize the efficiency of their digital strategy, companies must get a pulse on the competitive landscape and all the subsequent changes to specific markets and adjust their approach accordingly.

Here are three ways innovative companies like CenturyLink are molding their Digital Transformation strategy.

Embrace change

Business innovators need a platform upon which they can experiment and take digital risks, paving the way toward a digital user experience that generates enterprise value.

The motivation behind many Digital Transformation initiatives is fear of being bypassed and even left behind by the competition. Without a sound Digital Transformation strategy — one that assesses the market along with the competition – enterprises risk being outperformed and outdated. The fear of being outperformed is valid. According to the Digital Transformation Review the average lifespan of S&P 500 companies has decreased from 61 years in 1958 to about 20 years as recent as 2016. So, what does this mean regarding Digital Transformation? It means that simple, dramatic changes in business structure and the holistic market are now the standard, not the exception.

Changes in business structure and the overall market can come in many ways and from seemingly anywhere. Therefore, it's imperative for companies to be forward-thinking because many simply can't afford to wait or merely investigate what the competition is doing; they also must consider what the foreseeable future has in store and assess what changes will occur in other industries that will inevitably permeate their own as well. For example, the way customers purchase goods and interact with user portals continues to dictate the way businesses provide managed services. Embracing change is good. Take the idea of cloud-based technologies and how they have shifted over the past decade. The improvement and familiarity of the cloud has dramatically changed the way customers and businesses view storing their data.

To make a successful Digital Transformation, CenturyLink looks across industries for direction and insight. Rather than just passively watching the market, thought leaders opt to study the innovative companies in the technology industry to gain traction on how best to develop and implement a good Digital Transformation strategy.

Know the customer base

Understanding the target customer base is essential to the development and implementation of a good Digital Transformation strategy. Companies can't afford to operate on assumption. Oftentimes, when the way people do business changes, the target audience shifts as well. This shift requires companies to launch new digital initiatives rather than relying on a basic, nonspecific digital strategy. It's a matter of being proactive instead of reactive to what customers demand, which is why tasking research teams to study the needs and capabilities of users or the spending habits and business decisions for potential customers is a good practice.

Identifying and addressing the preferences and pain points of the company's target customer base paves the way to work efficiently to design a stable digital solution. This type of market research and examination of how customers interface with a platform is pivotal in building the strong foundation of a Digital Transformation strategy.

Adopt and align the culture

Companies that undergo effective Digital Transformations understand the importance of creating the right culture to ensure the transformation continues to improve the day-to-day work while meeting milestones going forward. There is no better example highlighting the importance of adopting and aligning the culture of a company than the Hybrid IT solution with the smooth transition from legacy platforms to cloud-based technologies. Making the decision and investment to migrate and transition from physical hardware and software to a cloud-based business model indicates the realization that the demands and needs of the customer are always changing as well. Customer feedback loops and user group opportunities are a good way to explain and test Digital Transformations within a community, and although the challenges are truly unique, adopting new ways of operating and embracing a new culture serve a company well in the future.

The Big Picture

Digital Transformation is about reducing cost and friction while utilizing capabilities like automation, virtualization, and optimization to capture the opportunities to maximize efficiency. Important tasks like performing maintenance, applying patches, administering the day-to-day upkeep of environments, systems, and process will be easier in the hybrid model.

This is the end state the IT world has been waiting for. Understanding how to make the technology the true growth engine requires the right vehicle — Digital Transformation. Monetizing services, driving growth, and profiting off of systems already in place are essential. Technologies such as SD-WAN and NFV will define how providers offer automation, and configurable services, and Just in Time (JIT) ways of dealing with the Internet of Everything. The future will involve those players that have proven capabilities to work in a hybrid, balanced way that lets them address the ever-growing needs of their customers. Hybrid IT architecture — and the hybrid network at its core — are the foundations of Digital Transformation.

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