During these trying economic times, businesses have been forced to make tough decisions about where to focus their limited resources. Paul Hooper, CEO of Gigamon, believes that companies should invest in their Digital Transformation and explains why this is essential for future business success.
The business landscape has been intensely challenging over the past year, with impacts of the pandemic undoubtedly exacerbating the pressures faced by executive teams. However, enterprises cannot afford to pause or stagnate in the face of tough economic circumstances. In fact, the opposite is true; the need to evolve is even greater than normal as businesses risk becoming extinct if they fail to adapt to an array of ever-evolving market conditions. The difference during these trying times is that business leaders have been forced to make tough decisions about where to focus their limited resources to reap the greatest reward, where to prioritise with limited staff and what to cut in the face of financial adversity. It is my belief that the catalyst to power through these challenging times is very clear: drive Digital Transformation (DX) of the enterprise.
Without embracing digital technologies and tools, the majority of businesses would have failed over the past year. Today’s enterprise is driven and empowered by technology in a way that we have never seen before; from high speed communications to a full spectrum of cybersecurity services and analysis solutions. While some organisations and leaders are averse to change, a successful CEO knows that you can only drive enterprise success by leading evolution regardless of how challenging it may be to implement.
Clearing the tracks for Digital Transformation
In a society so reliant on technology and connectivity, slowing or eliminating the requirement for continuous Digital Transformation would feel like trying to stop a moving train. It is not surprising that failing to digitally transform has been identified as one of the main reasons why more than half of Fortune 500 companies have failed since 2000. The phrase ‘innovate or die’ rings true here, especially in a time with such unprecedented levels of forced change.
It may seem counterproductive to invest in transformation initiatives when purse-strings are already tight, but digital spend can create a light at the end of the tunnel. Successful Digital Transformation will help a business remain competitive by streamlining complex or manual processes, reducing costs and process cycle-times, improving productivity and ultimately, allowing the business to become more efficient. While the benefits are incomparable, there are of course challenges associated with a transformation of this nature, especially with limited experienced resources, but these issues represent speed bumps rather than a roadblock.
One of the most important elements of any large-scale Digital Transformation is to establish and maintain effective and appropriate internal communications. Large-scale infrastructure changes will not happen instantly and are unlikely to come to fruition without facing unexpected hurdles. It is therefore important that the executive team communicates company-wide and focuses specific attention on the functional teams that are embarking upon the digital process re-engineering effort, and their IT partners that are likely to face the bulk of the project activities. Digital Transformation begins with the identification of processes and systems that are in need of realignment to new business demands, pressure or pace-of-execution, and continues through the evaluation of a company’s on-premises and cloud infrastructure. As Digital Transformation will most probably lead to the deployment of a combination of physical and virtual technologies, IT and Security teams must ensure that they have unparalleled visibility into each step of the initiative to ensure performance and reliability is not compromised and that security vulnerabilities are monitored for exploitation. Managing expectations through continuous and broad communications is crucial especially when customer or client work-product could be impacted.
Investing in optimisation
I have suggested that Digital Transformation is a non-negotiable initiative, but the elephant in the room remains: resources are currently limited for most businesses, so investment priorities must change for new tools and technologies. Fortunately, migrating away from current management, monitoring and security infrastructure tools is not always necessary – for many companies, simply optimising existing resources can free up the resources required to invest in a Digital Transformation initiative.
Businesses around the world have had to ‘do more with less’ over the past year, whether that is fewer resources or a reduction in budgets. Streamlining people, processes and current technologies can be the answer to evolving when it may seem impossible.
A strong example of doing more with less was demonstrated by Barrett Steel, the UK’s largest independent steel stockholder, that was struggling to realise complete visibility across its infrastructure as the volume of network traffic increased as Digital Transformation occurred. This resulted in challenges to the security analysis and reporting, potentially leaving it vulnerable to security breaches. It needed to modernise its network and security operational infrastructure without potentially dramatically increasing expenses. Through the deployment of a Gigamon Visibility Fabric, Barrett Steel was able to optimise its Network Detection and Response (NDR) tools by establishing a clear view of all data-in-motion across their network. Visibility was the key to streamlining and minimising the traffic that was fed through its network tools, and by ensuring that traffic is de-duplicated, the volume of information to be analysed was dramatically reduced without impacting the quality of the process. The outcome was a reduction in the load faced by its network tools and an increase in the throughput across the network, all while only slightly increasing the size of – and investment into – its tooling.
Following the lead of Barrett Steel highlights that increases in the capacity of network tools without adding massive cost can be realised, while ensuring a positive impact on staff. By increasing the efficiency of network and security tools, the number of false alarms will be reduced allowing IT and security teams to focus on the bigger picture – Digital Transformation – rather than being overloaded with false alarms/alerts. Another opportunity to gain greater returns from past and future investments is to consider task automation that will free cycles within the workforce allowing them to spend time on strategic projects rather than struggling with mundane or administrative tasks. With minimal investment in the optimisation of your people, processes and existing technology, you will be disproportionately rewarded with resources that can better serve your customers.
Looking ahead to the digital enterprise
The pandemic’s impact has been undeniable on almost every aspect of our lives, and now is the time to start thinking about the future. While battening-down-the-hatches and waiting for the storm to pass may seem like the option that holds the least risk especially as such uncertainty remains, it is also a path to get left behind in a competitive business landscape. We are living in a digital world and business leaders must take appropriate steps to adjust.
I’m under no illusion that budgets remain tight for many organisations which is why I suggest striving to optimise your existing resources – people and technology – to provide capacity for transformation and evolution to take place. As global business has become more reliant on technology than we foresaw a few years ago, I strongly suggest that Digital Transformation of the enterprise is where most organisations start the journey.