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What has the channel ever done for digital transformation?

How the channel can play an important role in the drive for digital transformation

Digital transformation is a hot topic and appears in endless marketing material, but is it just hype and what does it really mean?

Wikipedia says: “Digital transformation is not necessarily about digital technology, but about the fact that technology, which is digital, allows people to solve their traditional problems.” This does not help much or narrow things down. 

The fact is, digital transformation means different things to different people, but only makes sense if it has a strategic objective, with a focus on enhancing the customer experience and/or improving operational efficiency through technology innovation.

If businesses want to secure their future, they need a digital strategy to chart their digital transformation.

Map the way to digitisation 

Digital transformation must always start by reassessing how a business currently operates and by looking closely at the people, processes and existing technology. Only then can you look to change business processes and harness new technologies to automate the way you work and deliver services to customers.

The end game will be different for different sectors and businesses, but some common outputs involve giving customers direct access to systems for online sales, self-service helpdesks or logistics.

In a business-to-business world, it may involve taking people out of the equation altogether. So instead of “getting our people to talk to your people”, it is more a case of “getting our systems to talk to your systems”. 

“If businesses want to secure their future, they need a digital strategy to chart their digital transformation”
Karl Roe, Nuvias

Most companies are already along the digital transformation track and need to calculate their own digital maturity to figure out where they are on the journey. Measuring human-driven processes against automated processes and setting a target to increase the level of automation is a good starting point.

A common mistake is to see digital transformation as just about being online. It’s also about removing the human middleware at the back end, thereby reducing cost and improving efficiency.

Be an expert advisor

My top tip is to find a digital transformation specialist or architect who can help demystify the topic and offer practical, actionable advice.

This is where forward-thinking and experienced resellers and integrators can play an important role. As a trusted partner, they can provide high-level strategy, and with a consultative approach, they can help identify, tailor and deploy solutions that deliver service level agreements and return on investment around operational efficiency and enhanced customer experience.

But before resellers start preaching digital transformation, they need to “eat their own dog food” and take an inward look to ensure they, too, are embracing the tools and technologies to support business processes and customer engagement.

It is also likely that resellers need to expand their product portfolios and knowledge base to address the whole of the problem and deliver a complete end-to-end solution. A good starting point is the network that will underpin almost all digital transformation initiatives, so performance at the network and application layers is critical. The next thing is security. Digital transformation is pointless if it is not inherently secure and optimised.

There is a flavour of cloud in most new digital transformation projects, and managed services have an increasingly key role to play, reflected by the growing trend of resellers becoming as-a-service providers. Managed services help to speed up delivery, reduce up-front investment and are more flexible and scaleable to adapt to changing demand.

For the channel, digital transformation is a major opportunity. Digital transformation is happening everywhere – in large corporates to the public sector and across all verticals. But the biggest channel opportunities probably lie with SMEs. While many new SMEs were born in the cloud and already agile and automated, many still need a strong helping hand to kick-start them along the digital transformation journey.

This was last published in January 2019

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