Terms such as cloud, big data, software-defined or mobility are becoming a part of our common vocabulary and are changing our lives and societies, every day, everywhere. People and organizations are becoming digital consumers thanks to an increasingly connected world.

Of course many digital consumers also work in an enterprise and this digital shift equally applies to the business world where clients now expect the seamless experiences and higher levels of service that they have become used to outside of their working environment. It is a wake-up call for companies that deliver products and services to small, medium and large enterprises. These providers must up their game and deliver new and enhanced user experiences in the business sector too and use technology to better understand the client and customize offerings. New business imperatives like more innovative, smarter, agile or elastic services that focus on customer-centricity are becoming essential for digital companies.

How can enterprises transform to become a digital company?

The journey to becoming a digital organization requires a business to define the way it uses its data, its processes and its platforms. It needs the right leadership, strategy and vision. But let’s talk about how to build the digital platform, which is one of most common first steps an enterprise can take in this digital transformation process.

Companies need adaptive platforms that can support a huge number of clients, agility to provide ‘unlimited’ resources and real-time analytics to enable choices based on prediction of various factors. For this reason cloud becomes commercially fundamental with its quickly scalable storage capabilities and the ability to transmit massive amounts of data across geographies in real-time. Cloud resources are the first fundamental to consider for digitalization and it is the heart of the digital enterprise. But we need something else to build a digital platform. In this context, network transformation is being driven by Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) in combination with Software-Defined Wide Area Networks (SD-WANs). The application of NFV and SD-WAN enables the decoupling of network function delivery from hardware, virtualizing services within the network - similar to what SaaS and IaaS are doing for cloud computing, providing organizations with agility and flexibility, but leveraging them in the network itself — the second factor in the transformation.

These new architectures of course must also coexist with non-cloud platforms and it requires a multi-sided orchestrator stack powered by hybrid and holistic IT environments. This orchestration becomes the third fundamental piece of the digital platform that enables the development and management of applications across the cloud as well as the communication infrastructure, which might be addressed for different IT deployments. These architectural elements must be carefully selected to provide the broadest stack of technologies and involve well-experienced partners in digital transformation to ensure the best interoperability.

What are the challenges to consider during digitalization?

Enterprise digitalization fundamentally changes how companies go-to-market, what they go- to-market with, and how they organize themselves. Business functions, processes, activities, assets and models are interconnected. This is an essential aspect of digital transformation: the inter-dependency and inter-contentedness of everything.

But the most significant challenge is cultural and organizational. Many organizations have created new roles to help address these challenges such as Chief Data Officer (CDO) to achieve an innovation-led mind-set across the entire business, including customer and partner communities. But digitalization is finite and that’s the reason companies often choose to engage with a partner which has the expertise to help build the new organization with the structure and mind set to think and act like a digital entrepreneur.

The take away for this post is that digital transformation is a complex undertaking that must be led by management. It is a journey that should be conducted as a strategic process with a consulting-led approach, and facilitating workshops that embrace and engage company contributors at its core, delivered in several stages. Whilst it is not a cheap or short process I’m convinced that it is the organizations that evolve to digital that will survive and grow in the long run.