Digital transformation is great, if only the technology was ready

Technology modernization is sorely needed before digital transformation can begin in earnest. However, 81% of IT executives admit that their existing systems are inhibiting such growth.
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer

Everybody -- especially technology professionals -- is on board with digital transformation. However, while making technology a catalyst for digital business growth makes nice material for articles and analyst reports, much of appears to be still too sluggish or siloed to make a dent. 

That's one of the key takeaways from a recent survey of 400 IT executives, conducted by IDG and underwritten by Insight Enterprises. There is wide agreement that IT modernization is sorely needed before digital transformation can begin in earnest. Eighty-nine percent of IT executives admit that existing infrastructure, operations and culture are constraining innovation and strategic business growth. At least half the survey group, 49% say their IT infrastructure inhibits business growth "to a great extent." 

The survey's designers -- Aran Bride and Jen Garofalo, both with IDG -- define digital transformation as "adapting the organization to a digital-first approach by revising and redefining business processes, organizational structures, applications, and employee/customer/partner engagement points. Digital transformation leverages technology such as cloud, IoT, network infrastructure, data analytics, mobility, and security to innovate or modernize a business function."

Almost all the IT executives also complain about lack of collaboration between teams in reaching digital transformation goals. Eighty-seven percent indicate that the working relationship between developers and traditional IT is "hindering their ability to take full advantage of digital transformation." It appears not a whole lot is being done yet to address this -- just 20% are in progress with implementing platform teams that collaborate with DevSecOps or agile team. 

Skills and knowledge gaps also hold things back -- 44% cite skills and knowledge gaps as the top constraint inhibiting innovation.  Lack of infrastructure optimization and inadequate data analysis capabilities for decision-making follow at 39%.  

Still, 90% expect IT modernization to have either a transformative or significant impact on their organization's long-term growth, including 29% of those that have not yet begun the process. The average respondent reports three to four measurable improvements from IT modernization efforts to-date, topped by improved quality of service (44%) and improved user experience or satisfaction (40%). Additional returns delivered via digital transformation include business continuity (35%), cost savings (34%), resource optimization (33%), increased agility (32%) and increased product innovation (32%).

Close to two-thirds, 65%, place high importance on the acceleration of application development and modernization to enable innovation. Several strategies are already in play to assist, including enabling security protocols and governance early in the app development lifecycle (66%), implementing metrics, dashboards, and monitoring (66%), early testing during application development (64%), managing infrastructure updates and patch management (63%), and automation and CI/CD to address performance issues (60%). 

Top IT automation focus areas are infrastructure deployment, disaster recovery, resource provisioning, and data protection, each cited by two-thirds of executives. Top security initiatives include performing security testing (68%), implementing Zero Trust policies (65%), updating governance policies (64%), and implementing a security operations center (63%). 

It's clear that business leaders are leaning on their technology teams more than ever to deliver them to the promised digital land. While investing in and dropping the latest and greatest technologies onto a sluggish organization won't deliver overnight miracles, it's key that leaders are on board and supportive with clearing out legacy systems and processes that inhibit their ability to reach and serve customers.  

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