To Survive Disruption, Go Digital-First

It’s no secret that the digital reckoning is upon us. AI and cloud-based architecture, for example, have changed the way businesses operate and, therefore, how customers interact with their technologies. This has caused a mad dash for businesses to either stay up to date with current processes—or risk falling behind and losing to the competition.

According to tech media company IDC, 85% of enterprise-decision makers say they have plans to embark on a digital transformation within the next two years, with more than a third (37%) saying they’ve already started executing one and nearly half (45%) saying they’re in the early stages of adopting one. These numbers suggest that most companies see a clear need to create convenient, digital solutions for customers. So why have only 3% actually completed the process?

Fear of change

Despite 56% of CEOs saying digital improvements have led to revenue growth in their companies, many businesses are afraid of change. In a #CIOChat Live session held in March, Stephanie Woerner, research scientist at MIT Sloan Center for Information Systems Research (MIT CISR), said the path to transformation can be unclear. If their older, if not antiquated processes are tried and true, why switch to something new?

According to Woerner, most companies understand that a digital-first strategy is transformational. However, when put up against other strategies that have been sitting on the backburner for some time, most legacy companies will steer clear of the one that uproots their current ways of working and lacks documented results in their space.

Ultimately, says Woerner, the entire company—including the CEO—must back the decision to deploy a digital-first strategy or risk enabling a defective approach, financial loss and, ultimately, ruin.

They want to transform, but can they?

Even if everyone is on board with the new strategy, there’s still the question of if the company itself has the means to implement it. Of legacy companies that have launched a digital-first strategy, only 28% have succeeded, according to MIT CISR, with a third having barely started the process. If you don’t properly invest in resources needed to launch a digital-first strategy, including teams dedicated to cross-selling, up-selling, and improving customer experience—then you’re already falling behind, and time is of the essence.

One global energy leader recently said to Workato: “There are two problems everyone encounters when trying to transform a business. Scalability with the highly specialized technical knowledge that we would need — and is difficult to obtain — is problem number one. Problem number two is that the on-prem tools are not optimal for using with cloud applications. There’s a way to make it work, but you’re working against the grain on how those tools are designed to be used.”

Lack of agility

When it comes to integrating new technologies, you have to act fast. If your company is experiencing things such as technical complexity, untrained staff, inefficient processes and wrong-weight governance, you’re likely in what CIOs call technical debt, hindering the process even further.  

If you want to respond to disruption, you have to not just invest in systems and technology that’ll drive hard solutions, but you also need to reimagine business-critical processes from the ground up. Sticking a Band-Aid on old processes will only drive the engine to combust later.

How can companies move forward?

In recent years, there’s been explosive growth in the automation space, from RPA growing 100% YoY, according to Everest Group, to the market for iPaaS (foundational for RPA) growing 72% YoY, according to Gartner. These numbers demonstrate the key role automation plays in enabling companies to actually implement a digital-first approach and break through the noise.

An enterprise automation platform that supports end-to-end and integrated automation solutions across the business can be a crucial beam of any organization’s transformative efforts.

Such a platform should be agile, with a strong foundation in iPaaS that allows end-to-end automation and empowers both business and IT users with processes such as task automation (which eliminates a lot of grunt work), app automation (akin to many SaaS platforms), data automation (often handled by iPaaS products), and process automation (often handled either by RPA tools automating with legacy systems or iSaaS tools automating cloud applications).

This modern enterprise automation platform should allow:

  • More integrated automations connecting thousands of apps, services, devices, and on-prem systems.
  • More pervasive business automations from connected customer experiences prompting personalized, tailored, real-time communication and smart employee experiences, to operational excellence across the business in sales, marketing, HR, finance and IT.
  • More diverse technical automations from data and app integration, workflow automation to intelligent technologies (AI/ML), IoT, and workflow bots (digital assistants accessible from Slack, Microsoft Teams and Facebook Workplace), syncing many of the tools you already use
  • And—most importantly—it enables more ‘do-ers’ from business teams across the company to IT to tackle the incredible automation workload and backlog together. Digital transformation must be a team sport to succeed.

Going digital-first is not easy, especially if this is a new path for you. But, when looking at the growth of some of these markets over the past year, it’s safe to say that both digital and automation aren’t going anywhere. With many of your own departments likely using tools such as custom bots and workflow automation, the next natural step would be to use an enterprise automation platform that ensures integration across all processes seamlessly.

Read more about what enterprise automation looks like >