Why IT Modernization Will Help Companies Reach Their North Star

A connected society has rewritten the rules of business. Companies now know that they have to re-evaluate their working practices or run the risk of being left behind by their more tech-savvy competitors. The general consensus is that digital transformation is no longer a matter of if but when, with business leaders aware that they need to have the right tools for the job.

The process, unsurprisingly, relies on both establishing what IT modernization is required and the path to success. The digital ecosystem is extremely good at throwing unexpected challenges at companies, many of which require IT decision-makers to be the pivot around which digital transformation revolves.

Integration Without Disruption

With that in mind, there is a tendency for enterprises to see digital transformation as a series of projects that can be integrated without too much disruption. Sadly this is not always the case. Legacy applications may have performed admirably in terms of building a foundation for digital business, but if the IT infrastructure is not up to date, then it makes the integration of up-to-date applications more difficult to access and run. 

In addition, IT teams—who have traditionally been the conduit for change and modernization—are often augmented by executive leadership. A company may, for example, have both a chief information officer and chief data officer, two individuals who are responsible for ensuring that the ongoing IT modernization remains on track.

The CDO, for example, is now more likely to be responsible for delivering tangible business value and provides a mission-critical function that is, according to a recent Gartner report, comparable to IT, business operations, human resources and finance in 75 percent of large enterprises.

"The steady maturation of the office of the CDO underlines the acceptance and broader understanding of the role and recognizes the impact and value CDOs worldwide are providing," said, Gartner research director Michael Moran, in a press release. "The addition of new talent for increasing responsibilities, growing budgets and increasing positive engagement across the C-suite illustrate how central the role of CDO is becoming to more and more organizations."

Software Is Eating The World

The central role of the CDO is bolstered by the simple fact that software is eating the world. Digital disruption—an overused trope for the clichéd concept of "creative destruction"—has been part of society for many years. At the same time, the process of integrating modern software solutions into antiquated IT infrastructure is sometimes hampered by what a company hopes to achieve. 

In recent years, the importance of digital in both internal processes and, increasingly, external customer relationships has required companies to redefine a so-called north star. This business growth concept—first coined by Silicon Valley as a means of defining the single metric that best captures the core value that a product delivers to customers—helps leadership to move beyond fleeting or surface-level success to long-term sustainability.

"Enterprises need to evolve together as one entity."

A recent Forrester webinar entitled "Digital Rewrites The Rules Of Business," cited by ZDNet, focused on the fact that everything starts with understanding how IT modernization will affect the north star that so many companies are striving for. To succeed, the news source said, requires an enterprise to evolve together as one entity, and not just individual departments

Global IT spending is expected to reach $3.7 trillion in 2018, according to Gartner, much of which will be reportedly allocated toward digital business transformation. The IT buying landscape itself will, Gartner said, be increasingly reliant on a range of technologies that enhance the workplace and, ultimately, allow companies to create revenue streams in a digital world.

"Organizations that are not creating new digital business models or new ways to engage constituents or customers, are falling behind," said Gartner's research vice president John-David Lovelock. "Those vendors that do not move more quickly than their clients, will be left behind."

IT Modernization Is The Key

For the unprepared or unwary enterprise, this poses something of a conundrum. On the one hand, there is a defined need for companies to provide the digital experiences that people have come to expect. The flip side is that responding to rising expectations requires a state of almost continuous improvement within an organization itself.

The good news is that decision-makers seem to understand that digitalization and IT modernization is the only way forward.

Technology has encouraged companies to engage with its customers and workforce in ways that were beyond imagination as recently as 20 years ago. Armed with these experiences, people are becoming more aware of how to leverage the software available and limit the pain-points that can disrupt business operations. Not every company will reach their north star, but understanding the benefits of digital transformation can be a great place to start.

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