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The essential guide to digital transformation by SolarWinds

Digital transformation is the latest buzzword adopted by companies to tout what they're doing in this space.

Though a business can fit most of its IT projects under digital transformation, also known as DX, the term is much more nuanced than one might expect. At its core, digital transformation is about projects bringing digital solutions and connecting them with IT environments to do the following:

  • Create digital offerings and experiences for end users. For example, this might mean coming up with an app to drive better customer satisfaction, increase revenue, and bring a competitive edge.
  • Integrate and adopt next-generation tools to help consolidate existing systems and bring better insights.
  • Add more intelligence and analysis to the existing systems to help teams make better and more informed business decisions.
  • Make operations more agile.

The Push to DX

SolarWinds global head of system integrator business Bharat Bedi says there are several different factors accelerating DX. First, there's the adoption of future-ready technologies such as 5G and the internet of things (IoT). The pandemic has also had a major impact. As a result, many business initiatives previously considered “nice to have” have suddenly become necessary. The businesses able to adapt quickly to lockdowns and continue operating were the ones already well advanced on their digital journey. Industrial automation, contactless payments, digital retail, remote work infrastructure, and digital classrooms are a few examples of how digital transformation has impacted industries across the board.

Apart from the pandemic, the possibilities associated with affordable technology advancements have made us all impatient. If it takes too long to put wares in the virtual basket of an online store, users move on to the competition. The result? A customer lost. The same applies to other sectors. For example, most banks have an online banking offering or an app providing automated services, negating the need to ever visit a branch. The banks capable of providing secure, seamless, and 24/7 service with minimal disruptions and downtime have a clear and distinct competitive advantage.

Hyperscalers and artificial intelligence (AI) are game changers for accelerating companies on this journey. From reduced setup time to flexibility in ramping up or down depending on business needs, hyperscalers and AI work well for IT and finance leaders in the company. These systems not only allow teams to handle enormous amounts of data coming from all digital sources but allow AI engines to help make sense of this data so teams can make informed business decisions.

The Challenges to DX

1) “With Great DX Comes Many Technologies

Something often forgotten is the number of technologies tagging along with DX projects. In today's era, with new disruptive tech launches almost every month, it isn't easy to narrow down the technologies businesses need to help advance their DX journeys. It's imperative for IT teams to maintain a bird's-eye view of technologies such as machine learning, IoT, big data and analytics, hybrid and multi-cloud, AI, and the role they play in an organization's digital transformation strategy.

2) Complexities

With new technologies comes additional complexity. The above-mentioned technologies solve one set of problems, but businesses can't send everything to the cloud for security and compliance reasons. Though hybrid cloud is an answer, managing and monitoring becomes another challenge. Finding the root cause of a “system down” incident needs dedicated and specific subject-matter expertise,
especially in today's fragmented environments.

3) Skill Set

IT leaders spend lots of time choosing the best and most optimized technologies, and acquiring skill sets isn't easy either - for employers and employees alike. Who should you invest in? How much should you invest? How can you fill their positions while employees are away learning new skill sets? How can you retain older employees with new skills? These some of the questions constantly engaging IT departments and HR.

4) Number of Vendors

Adopting more sophisticated technologies also means adding more vendors. Rethinking, adding, consolidating, and optimizing existing systems and apps; co-hosting or co-locating hardware; and adopting cloud strategies means a lot of research and difficult decisions between performance and cost.

Bedi says he's seen some enterprise companies with global scale and fragmented environments working with more than 10 vendors in the IT operations management layers. Between observing, automating, remediating, and visualizing, there are more than 40 vendors available in addition to the native vendor tools. In addition to the above, many other factors need to be considered, including security, time
to market, costs, keeping things in-house vs. outsourcing them, etc. It's a lot for IT leaders to consider.

One of the ways to think of DX is to look at it as an infinite game—a cycle—and not as a single project. DX requires IT leaders to continuously learn digital trends and the tech supporting them and implement and manage these technologies. IT leaders must deal with two demanding personas: consumers who want more and business leaders who want to deliver more in less time. Given these demands, beginning the journey toward DX is becoming indispensable. Managing complex environments and fragmented technologies shouldn't be an afterthought—it must be a core part of this journey. A platform approach can help businesses tackle the ever-changing technology and cyclical DX journey.

A consolidated platform designed to help observe, automate, remediate, and visualize makes life much easier for IT operations teams, especially if you can get all this from a single vendor with a long-standing history of making software easy to use, simple to integrate, and flexible to implement. Investments in platforms—not products—built to integrate with legacy, existing, and future technologies will be key to empowering IT leaders on their continuous DX journeys.

Interested to learn more about how observability is the future of monitoring? Download a free trial here of SolarWinds' new Hybrid Cloud Observability solution that caters to all stages of a cloud transformation journey.

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