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Digital Transformation: Finding the Music in the Noise

Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from our latest ebook, “Your Digital Transformation Roadmap: How to create value by moving to and living in Office 365.” Get your FREE copy here!


As the technology and software industries have grown in leaps and bound over the past decade or so, so too have the number of offerings available to customers. With so many companies vying for attention, the messaging can get a little tiresome. Collaboration this, connectivity that. It can be hard to know what’s marketing and what’s substantive.

One of the buzzwords in the enterprise collaboration landscape is Digital Transformation. To those unfamiliar with this phrase, it can sound like more of the same — jargon. But, if you peel back the layers, digital transformation is a concept that offers far more than just some catchphrase or sales pitch. The goal of this post is to provide a definition for the concept as well as some drivers and barriers to it.

What is Digital Transformation?

Microsoft defines digital transformation as “reimagining how you bring together people, data, and processes to create value for your customers and maintain a competitive advantage in a digital-first world.”

At its core, digital transformation is about harnessing the power of the cloud to deliver additional value to your customers and your internal end users.

From moving email and productivity applications to the cloud with services like Office 365, to going all-in with the full Microsoft cloud suite, businesses are leveraging the cloud to centralize and integrate information systems throughout the organization.

Drivers for Digital Transformation

This accelerated move towards digital transformation is caused by several factors including:

In a recent survey, businesses listed increased competition and expansion in new markets as main drivers of digital transformation for businesses (Solis, October 2017). The cloud enables businesses to fail fast and forward by spinning up virtual machines without having to wait for what can be lengthy infrastructure provisioning processes. Successful ideas can be scaled, and resources are paid for as they are used.

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Better integrated systems can also provide a competitive advantage, allowing employees to be more responsive and better serve customers. The cloud ensures data can be available anywhere, creates one source of truth and accelerates employees’ ability to collaborate.

Businesses that put off their digital transformation for too long risk being put at a competitive disadvantage. According to Gartner, its anticipated up to 50 percent of business users will have moved their core collaboration and communications systems to cloud platforms. By 2021 more than 70 percent of businesses will be substantially provisioned with cloud office capabilities.

Consumer technology trends are also driving digital transformation for businesses. As consumers become savvier with mobile devices, apps and services, as well as the seamless integration that accompanies many of these tools, they expect the same experience from the companies they do business with.

Finally, digital transformation is becoming even more important as more than 8 billion “things” will be connected in 2017 worldwide, and that number will increase throughout the coming years (Chalmers, June 30, 2017). Being able to gather the data collected by these new tools, and in turn use that information to make better and faster business decisions, is spurring an increased interest in digital transformation.

Barriers to Digital Transformation

Cybersecurity concerns: A general wariness of the reliability and security of the cloud continues to prevent some companies from embracing new technologies.

In reality, the cloud provides greater defenses against cyberattacks than a business could manage on its own—much like a bank is able to use economies of scale to ensure top of the line security versus the capabilities of a single individual.

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Legacy systems that are no longer supported or regularly patched can pose a massive security and data management risk.

Hybrid challenges: Many companies also continue to rely on legacy systems to maintain business as usual. There are many reasons for this – sometimes budget constraints make technology infrastructure upgrades difficult, or interoperability between systems is a challenge.

Many cloud service providers offerings are designed to support businesses that go “all-in” to the cloud, which is not the reality for most organizations. Without the proper tools or architecture, leveraging existing legacy technology can force employees to work in silos and makes anywhere access challenging.

Process obstacles: The final barrier organizations face with digital transformation is the process of the transformation itself. Any technology infrastructure upgrade is a big process, and sometimes it is hard to know where to begin, who should be involved, and how to break it down into manageable steps.

Fortunately, there are more and more resources available to companies that are thinking about how to best approach digital transformation to enhance their business. Other chapters in our digital transformation ebook will show you how to overcome process obstacles to ensure sustainable success with your digital transformation.

AvePoint also hosts playbooks with a diverse array of available resources on Office 365 Groups and Teams that is continually updated.

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