Digital Transformation: 3 Trends to Watch in 2017

Space may have been hailed as the final frontier decades ago, but the digital transformation underway within today’s enterprises proves how premature that declaration was. Within the newest “last” frontier, businesses are leveraging digital technologies to drive process improvements and engagement across the enterprise and beyond.

One of the significant changes enterprises should expect to gain speed this year is the expanding role of business users in IT. Fences around the IT landscape are slowly coming down and business users are playing an active part in the digital transformation. It’s uncharted territory, driving an increased demand for information governance initiatives to help companies use data to navigate the transformation. Here are trends to watch as data and business users’ roles evolve within IT and across the enterprise. 

Digital Transformation as a Business Driver

The Internet of Things (IoT) has rocketed past a sci-fi concept to reality, showing no signs of slowing down. According to Cisco, the number of IoT sensors will grow to 50 billion by 2020, and Intel estimates that we’ll have 200 billion Internet-connected things by 2030. It’s expected that this hyper-connectivity will result in a doubling of business data every 1.2 years.

The IoT is a digital disruption that has shifted power to customers, who are demanding digital transformation from companies they do business with. It’s moved companies to straddle a digital fence as they scramble to meet demands and adapt to the new frontier of hyper-connectivity. On one side, they’re counting on legacy enterprise systems to provide dependable, proven results. On the other side, they’re investing in new, innovative applications focused on agility and speed.

However, this bimodal IT approach to digital transformation requires using a technological gate between traditional IT infrastructure and an agile one to open the way to true digital transformation. Technology can provide the roadmap planning, hardware integration, and strategic automation to enable and simplify critical data processes across the organization. The result is an end-to-end process that will offer companies the ability to use information governance to set and enforce policy and create processes that lower the risk of innovative applications, while also extending the value of legacy systems.

Matching Speed of Business with the Cloud

As companies undergo digital transformation, business users are increasingly circumventing IT departments and legacy ERP systems in search of solutions that better meet their needs. They’re finding the flexibility and real-time availability they’re after in the cloud.

Cloud-based applications may be providing the increased productivity, efficiency and agility that business users are looking for, but they leave a messy data trail that makes navigating master data and other types of unstructured data management across the enterprise difficult, if not impossible. Gone is the simplicity of streamlined migration and data governance that a single legacy system offers. Different applications mean different processes and workflows—a disjointed system that results in inefficiencies and frustrations that ultimately impact a company’s bottom line.

As companies move into this post-modern ERP era, it’s an opportunity for business users and IT to share input based on operations and needs to define the company’s updated strategy. That strategy should include the best applications possible in each particular area (such as finance, human resources, supply chain, manufacturing, CRM and order management).

Orchestrating a strategy that integrates systems eliminates siloed applications and reopens streamlined migration and data governance. IT and business users are equipped to model, simplify, implement, integrate and monitor custom process applications, while securely exchanging information. The result is a simplified, unified system that ultimately improves performance.

Leveraging Data with Predictive Analytics

Digital transformation and cloud-based applications are changing the dynamics of how business users collaborate within the IT landscape. A more diverse environment that purposely integrates business users, along with more innovative and agile technologies, will require an investment in data stewardship and governance initiatives in order to integrate and leverage the ever-growing tsunami of data available across all systems.

Predictive analytics can play a significant role. Equipped to analyze the wealth of data at an even deeper level, companies can use the technology to identify the likelihood of future outcomes based on historical data. Combined with artificial intelligence and machine learning, the newest tools for big data provide information that enables companies to continually reinvent and optimize processes to further their business. But the newest technologies and data-driven decisions are only as good as the data that feeds them. A consistent governance program that results in clean, accurate data is key to results that can be trusted as part of decision-making processes.

Agility and Simplicity Key to Transformation

As more and more enterprises undergo digital transformations, they are facing the realities of an IT environment that is likely struggling to be agile and responsive under the weight of integrating traditional systems and innovative applications. To effectively meet these needs, we expect to see continued collaborative dynamics between IT and business users throughout 2017, with enterprises developing and executing more data-driven processes. This best-practice approach provides streamlined workflows and ensure systems and apps optimally meet demands and drive real digital transformation results.