Digital transformation is the buzz phrase of the moment, with budgets and resources to match. Worldwide spending on digital transformation technologies - hardware, software, and services - hit $1.3 trillion in 2017, according to IDC.
The tech research company expects spending to almost double between now and 2021, when the total amount spent on digitalisation globally will surpass $2.1 trillion. So, where is that cash being directed? Digital transformation involves using digital technologies, such as the cloud, to remake a process to become more efficient or effective.
Using the cloud to improve business processes
The theory behind digital transformation is the same for all organisations, whether small or large. The aim is to use technology not just to replicate an existing service in a digital form, but to use technology to transform that service into something significantly better.
However, tech analyst Forrester recently reported that digital transformation efforts are running into roadblocks amid confusion, delusion, and resistance to change. Companies see hot technologies - like the cloud, big data, the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence (AI) - and believe it will be easy to implement systems and create big benefits.
That's not always the case. Some processes are tough to improve and reaping the benefits from emerging technology, such as AI, will be far from straightforward. However, the business case for other areas - such as secure cloud hosting - is now well established. As such, the cloud represents a logical first step towards digital transformation.
By embracing the cloud, your business can modernise its IT infrastructure, create in-built security and focus on how it might serve customers digitally in new ways. Rather than worrying about big data and AI, your firm needs to turn first to the cloud. With a modern, open approach to technology, your firm can start to think how it can use technology to improve its operations, processes and services.
Going through a digital awakening
Too many firms still rely on older, legacy kit. These applications might be operationally acceptable on a day-to-day basis but older systems have a limited lifespan. Providers gradually withdraw support for legacy technology. At the same time, your business will not be able to use these older platforms to build new digital services. It's no good, for example, building a mobile application for users on a platform that can't be updated easily.
If your business wants to embrace mobile applications or flexible working practices, then it will need to create a secure platform that makes it easy for your business to update services as business and customer requirements change. Your organisation, in short, must start thinking about digitisation via the cloud.
The good news is IDC says the past 12 months have seen a "digital awakening" among SMBs. The researcher says smaller firms have long been interested in leveraging technology for competitive advantage. However, SMBs are now looking to coordinate resources and invest in digital technology to create an efficient, lasting platform for growth.
It's a theme repeated in research conducted by tech analyst SMB Group, which highlights how more than a third (36 percent) of SMBs are already implementing activities to support digital transformation. A further 48 percent of smaller firms are currently planning to engage in activities that will help them adapt and transform their businesses for a digital future.
Working with a trusted partner
IDC suggests cloud hosting will play a key role in these activities. Public cloud spending will grow at an annual rate of 19.4 percent through 2019 to reach a total global spend of $141 billion, reports IDC. SMBs will contribute to 40 percent of this total, or $61 billion, in 2019.
These pioneering smaller firms recognise the cloud provides the secure platform from which to change and grow. Your cloud computing partner will give your business the flexibility and scalability you need to expand or contract your processing power, available memory or software needs on demand.
Crucially, your cloud partner is an expert in hosting. It will offer robust security and a more reliable backup protocol than would ever be possible in house. Why dedicate your budget to building, maintaining and securing your digital platform when you don't have to? Let your cloud provider do the work - and create a secure solution to your business challenges.
Conclusion - Building a secure platform for the future
While most SMBs are just starting to tackle the digital transformation challenge, their plans are beginning to take shape, reports SMB Research. The smartest firms are placing cloud at the heart of their digital transformation strategies to create a flexible, secure platform for future growth. Grasp this opportunity now.
IDC SMB spending guide: