Digital Transformation 2020 - A Midcourse Correction Guide for CIOs and CTOs
The past year has become something of a wakeup call to the modern world at large. No one expected the new decade to usher in a world-shaking disastrous event that could so utterly and completely shake our faith in traditional practices. Responses to the pandemic have been, in many places, admirable. In others, not so much. Things are different now.
In many conditions, the opportunity for growing one’s business has petered out. There’s no easy path forward when the safety and security of our loved ones is at stake. Priorities are not the same as they were, when ambition was the golden vice to attest to. Right now, businesses are concerned first and foremost about one thing: survival.
Switching tracks from continual upward growth to conservative survival isn’t as easy as changing lanes in traffic. This is an entire midcourse correction for 2020 digital transformation, and it will have long-lasting effects up through the rest of the decade and possibly beyond. How easily and quickly organizations make the transformation will determine whether their boats ride out the squall or sink beneath the waves.
How Is the Pandemic Changing a Company’s Leadership Approach to Digital Innovation Strategies and Investments?
At this point we’ve all heard “these are uncertain times” more than enough to want to pull our hair out. Everything’s precarious, everything makes everyone worry, we don’t want to hear about that anymore. What we want are solutions, a path forward. A lot of companies have been caught unprepared and had to transform fundamentally to withstand the shock.
A new world might be emerging, a new way of working and communicating and functioning, wherein no one had enough time to change. Some businesses have literally evaporated, putting a lot of pressure on leaders of businesses and stresses on those who depend on that service to supplement their livelihood. The question is: how can leaders form a new, better digital transformation strategy to a current and post-pandemic world?
Business Continuity Challenges
The show must go on. No matter how rough the ride is, you must manage to keep the business continuity going in one fashion or another. Remote work in this context is pivotal, it must be reinforced and strengthened for the second wave even after businesses and offices start reopening. We’re not out of the woods yet, and preempting the fallout gives you a better chance of weathering it. Resource availability is changing, and keeping our businesses going is a major component of that game.
Reinforcement of Information Security
Security is a number one concern on everyone’s mind. Cybercrime may be sensationalized in TV shows, but it’s a very real threat that’s become even more relevant once the new digital transformation 2020 hit. From hacking to protecting client sensitive information, with your remote workforce having access to sensitive information outside of secure office premises, security is more important than ever right now.
There’s no physical security, no one can see what employees are doing with great ease. For some companies the shift from physical to remote had to be done in 24 hours. You can’t easily move apartments in 24 hours, let alone lifting and shifting your entire working infrastructure from physical to digital, it’s unfeasible. That is, it would be unfeasible if you don’t prepare for that eventuality.
With the remote shift, businesses must come up with new processes, new security infrastructure, training, providing guarantees to clients that you are taking security measures seriously, and so on. Contingency is key here. Considering that hacking will be among one of your foremost worries from here on out, ensure there is a crisis management plan in case the worst happens.
Restructuring of Projects and Investments
What worked in 2019 is not gonna work in April-May 2020 and so on, so forth from here. The rules that governed that sphere of business practices does not apply to how the current sphere functions. Projects need to be prioritized, capital may not be accessed, and the long-term is no longer the entirety of the bottom line.
The situation has forced companies to view goals and metrics, from a quarterly, yearly perspective, to a weekly or even day-to-day basis. We’re all standing on unsteady ground that could collapse beneath us at any moment if we aren’t careful about the immediate rather than the future. This may include investment approval delays and investment in fewer new opportunities. ROI’s getting smaller, but innovation cannot be stopped, so projects need to be prioritized according to what can be expected from them considering the current state of affairs.
As Business Leaders, What Should We Focus On?
The answer to that question, as you might very well guess, would be digital innovation. A company that isn’t innovating is running on a treadmill: going nowhere fast. This is the prime opportunity for you to step your game up. A recent survey on the state of digital transformation by TEKsystems found that 4/10 technology decision-makers aren’t satisfied with their organization’s current reaction to digital innovation. Digital innovation has always been critical, but even more so now that we rely so heavily on it to keep the world functioning.
Align IT Investments with Revenue Forecasts
You’ve got some adjustment and recalibration that needs doing. All those numbers and budget circles you established in past years are essentially moot when you’re hit with a catastrophe as unique as the one we’re in. You have to understand where the business and revenue is going now and reevaluate what’s going to work with your revenue forecasts.
Whatever is happening to your business in the short, medium, and long term will impact your digital innovation initiatives. Your rock solid plans are getting muddy, and your budget circles from 2020 may be changing as we speak. History is not a good indicator of the future anymore. Before it becomes irreparable, ensuring your IT investments match up with your revenue forecasts will help keep your efforts in the clear.
Prioritize Current and Future Investments
As we mentioned earlier, some costs, projects, or investments may need to be fridged for the time being in order to prioritize what matters most at the moment. Costs and expenses need to follow revenue. Pipelines are drying up, and some revenues have gone to zero. However, innovation can be the difference between surviving or disappearing. It isn’t an easy choice to make, but we need to be in touch with business reality. Like an amputation, you need to see what’s important, what you can help cut, and what you can help keep going to pull through to the other side of the pandemic.
Enable Remote Working, It Makes Sense
Establishing something new is never going to be comfortable, especially when forced to go all in so quickly. Remote work, however, is nothing new, and has become integral to how organizations function for years before this crisis made it popular. Coronavirus or no, refusing to fill in your regular schedule with remote working may as well be signing your death warrant.
It’s not an option anymore. Enabling efficient remote work for your workforce can be the difference between staying in business or not. You can expect that it’ll become the new normal, going on a year to a decade to the rest of the foreseeable time. Love it or hate it, it’s cost efficient and the workforce is productive while boosting morale and job retention.
Invest in Security Infrastructure
We already talked about how important security infrastructure is, but it’s relevant enough to harp on again. Now since most every company, person, and household has been relegated to remote work, the integrity of their security cannot be understated. To ensure that your employees and clients are confident in your services, enhancing your security measures is vital.
Grow in the Cloud
You’ve heard of the phrase “the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the second best time is now.” Granted, the popularity of the Cloud has not been in full flux for two decades, but the sentiment stands. Whether you’ve only recently begun migrating to the Cloud, have been using it for some time, or haven’t started yet, you’ve got no better time than now to get a jump on things.
Moving to the Cloud will not mean automatic savings. It takes time for it to pay off, because infrastructure investments need to be made at first. But that’s just what it is: an investment. You need to start planning ahead for migration if you want for it to become reality with as much ease, speed, and efficiency as possible.
With remote working, automation is going to become even more important. Let’s talk about hiring, for example. If a lot of people are remote, you have to rethink how hiring happens, how document signing is processed, how onboarding works, how they get access to computers. These are tactile steps, processes that are built around physical touch points. If those physical touch points are not available, you have to rethink those processes. Enter automation. Through bots and AI, automation can support customers and employees alike while we’re all cooped up in our homes.
As a CEO, How Can I Support our Investments in Both Growth and Digital Acceleration?
Considering how important we’ve made digital transformation out to be, what would you guess the ratio of companies that have actually brought their initiatives to fruition would be? 50%? 60% 75%? You see, digital transformation is a popular concept, but improperly supported. According to Gartner, 87% of execs say that digitalization is a company priority, yet only 40% of organizations have brought digital initiatives to scale. Liking the idea and enacting it are two separate beasts.
Inaction Has a Price
What is the cost of doing nothing? We can’t just stop and freeze, doing so means death, melodramatic as it might sound. One way or another we have to evolve, whether it’s growing, cutting, or adjusting. Things are changing, consumer demands are changing, and how we must approach our services, projects, production, and every other facet of our business must also change. Our leaders’ guidance is no exception to this rule. Sure, you may make some bad calls, but this is an ongoing learning process. You learn more with failure than you do with success.
Growth Requires Newer Innovation and Flexibility
You’re going to have to embrace two specific traits for this to work: creativity and boldness. And also flexibility, obviously. Innovation requires that you be creative enough to create or discover something new and be bold enough to enact it confidently. You need to find new ways of doing the same thing, or new business models, and that’s where the flexibility comes in. Just because something worked really well last year does not mean it’s going to work the same way after Covid-19.
Play Long, This Too Shall Pass
This is a good time to rebuild a new, stronger foundation. It’s not the time to build skyscrapers, it’s the time to construct bunkhouses. Ambition is arrogance and caution is prudence. Don’t push too hard. We will overcome and we will adjust, but we need to be prepared to deal with whatever is coming next. Batten down the hatches, fortify your foundation, and wait for the storm to pass.
What Should I Look for in a Digital Services Partner?
Obtaining a competent digital services partner accounts for the shortfalls you may have yourself. You may not have the right resources, employees, or means to digitally transform your company, but your digital services partner will. However, according to the PWC Global CEO survey, 80% said that digital innovation is critical to their competitive advantage, but 57% said the lack of skilled teams is a key blocker to their growth.
Essentially, when you choose this route, what elements do you look for in a valuable digital services partner?
Do You Have Access to the Right Talent Right Now to Pivot?
Things will change and you will have to adapt. Try as you might, you can’t do it alone, and that mostly falls to experience. You have to work with someone who is more aware of what’s going on and has experience in your industry. While your existing team is highly skilled in their own areas, they may still lack the capabilities you need to move forward to the next level. Calling in the experts gets you where you need to be.
Do you Have a Geographical Partner Diversification Strategy to Innovate Fast?
As soon as you’ve concentrated your resources too exclusively into one market, you’ve weakened the overall likelihood that you can expand and innovate quickly in others. One trick ponies are slow to grow, which is why you need to diversify. Grow into other markets, put your eggs in multiple baskets, and thereby reduce your portfolio risk, making innovation possible.
Is Your Innovation Partner Ready to Support You?
Great, so you’ve got yourself in the position where you’re ready to take on a digital innovation partner. That’s fantastic! Here’s the critical follow up question: are they ready to support you? In a perfect world, anyone advertising their interest in any partnership will have the chops needed to back up their claims. This is an instance where you need to do your own research.
Here are a few of the relevant questions you’ll want answered before signing any documents
- Is your partner’s political, geographical, or cultural circumstances allowing or blocking them from supplying what you need?
- Are they prepared to adjust alongside you?
- Do they have the adequate IT security in place?
Keep in mind that any credible company will be forthright with this information, but it serves you well to do your due diligence regardless.
Can You Afford Your Partner?
Under normal circumstances, cost is not the top priority when it comes to choosing an innovation partner. These are not normal circumstances. During times like these, checking to ensure you aren’t overextending your funds will save you future heartache. Cost is a double-edged sword. The more affordable they are, the more likely their final work will be lower quality, whereas high quality work comes at a steeper price you may not be able to afford.
How Can a Nearshore Delivery Model Support My Business Innovation and Growth Goals?
Nearshore outsourcing is one of the fastest growing outsourcing choices and business opportunities selected by companies in the digital market. By 2023, 50% of digital services will be delivered from nearshore locations, up from 17% in 2018. These nearshore locations focus on three countries: Canada, The United States, and Mexico, neighbors in North and Central America.
These three powerhouses make for great business partners for a variety of reasons, but most distinctly is their cultural alignment and geographical proximity. Your nearshore partner could be in Toronto or Mexico City. This close proximity means you’ll all share the same language, having the same or similar values, and, most importantly, share the same time zone.
We’ll go briefly over the seven benefits of nearshore outsourcing:
- Cost Competitiveness
The problem with traditional outsourcing venues is the inherent inconvenience. You’re unable to have a face-to-face conversation, since most of the time you’ll need to book a flight to get there, and that’s a whole other can of worms. Nearshore outsourcing agencies, such as ones located in Guadalajara, are a simple two hour flight from Austin, Texas.
While knuckles-deep in a project, you want as few interruptions as possible. The more breaks you have in the continuity of your workflow, the harder it will be to maintain a consistent productive schedule. Now throw in trying to work with people overseas who are guaranteed to take minimally a day to get back to you due to the nature of time zones. Frustrating and slow, isn’t it?
Nearshore clicks with your continuity by being readily convenient within the same time zone, right over the country border. This means you’ll be able to work on your project with them with minimal interruptions and breaks, maintaining continuity.
You need someone you can easily work with. With offshore outsourcing, you’re working with someone, who is on the other side of the planet. That means they’re 10-12 hours ahead of your time, well outside normal work hours, making it impractical to maintain good communication. It’s hard to work with someone when you have to wait two to three days to get a revision on a piece of code you need fixed, not to mention overcoming the language barrier.
Nearshore sources don’t have that problem. Without a language and time zone barrier, communication is easy, clear, and painless, building a relationship devoid of typical hindrances that plague offshore partnerships.
Mexico has distinguished itself in the software development field, receiving educational accolades and massive graduate numbers for the IT field. With a rapidly growing labor pool filled with skilled and talented workers, places like Guadalajara have garnered titles equating them with America’s own Silicon Valley. It’s accomplished technological infrastructure makes Mexico a hotspot for outsourcing work, guaranteeing high quality results.
Nearshore outsourcing markets prove themselves to possess not only the capability to deliver the sort of work expected by their clients, but they match up to them with the deep labor pools necessary to meet a high demand. Mexico in particular, due to their large availability of capable talent, are able to provide teams to fill any project capacity companies are looking for.
Canada, America, and Mexico are bound together by cultures that are as much neighborly to each other as our countries are. That is to say, our cultures are unique, but there’s such overlap that our values remain similar. This equates to easier communication, work ethic, greater understanding, and overall better cohesion between teams. Aligned cultures establish a sense of unity that transcends borders.
Here’s where the rubber hits the road. Facts are facts: offshore outsourcing can be expensive, nearshore outsourcing isn’t. Times have changed, and the economical approach isn’t across the big pond anymore. Due to the lower cost of living in nearshore countries, you can expect to find high quality products at a portion of the price you’d find locally in the United States.
What are Some Best Practices to Fit the 2020 Midcourse Correction for Digital Transformation?
You want actionable intel. Something to work on, something to actively pursue and contribute to the adaptation process while undergoing your 2020 digital transformation. Here are a few tips we can provide for you going forward.
- Continuous and real-time communication between teams
Communication is the grease that makes the wheels turn. Waterfall frameworks are old-fashioned and ill-suited for modern IT work. Ensure your teams follow Agile methodology and keep the workflow collaborative.
- Align culturally, they are part of your team
Outsourcing is evolving beyond a simple paper contract and agreement. These are people you want to develop relationships with, shifting into partnerships and collaborations. You want to share values to make that essential partnership work. You’re partnering with other people with different sets of skills to solve your business problems faster. They may not be in the same room as you, but they are part of your team.
- Choose effective collaboration tools, processes
If you enter a partnership without a game plan or means to make it work, then it’s doomed from the start. Before you finalize anything, lay out the tools and processes you’ll be using to ensure your teams are capable of working together as easily as possible.
- Be Flexible, it takes time for distributed teams to come together
You can’t just rush progress. Folks can’t just come together and start solving issues immediately. People naturally take time to get comfortable with each other, to grow close, know each other, and you have to allow that to progress naturally. Be prepared for the new norm while your teams acclimate to each other.
- Monitor the effectiveness, ROI monthly
While you want to leave your teams to their own devices and let them do what they do best, you still need to have some supervision. It may be apparent that these teams don’t work well together, or maybe they do! You won’t know for sure without monthly ROI checks to see how well they perform by the numbers.
There’s a lot of information to process here, so let’s break it all down into a quick tl;dr.
The pandemic is changing the face of how the digital landscape operates. It’s come to a point where it’s adapt or die. Keep moving, keep innovating, and don’t stop while you bunker down for the long haul. Your best step forward is reaching out and taking advantage of nearshore digital partners and remote workspaces. The 7 C’s outline why nearshore outsourcing is superior to any other type and will greatly benefit your business, and we finished off with a few choice tips for taking care of your 2020 digital transformation.
You’ve got a full plate, and it may feel like there’s too much to absorb at once. Things are different. Things are scary. The road ahead is challenging. iTexico is there to help. We specialize in pairing you with nearshore outsourcing agencies and establishing remote working conditions, tools, and processes to get your company where it needs to be. Visit our contact page, and we’ll see what we can do for you.
And, as cliche as it is, it’s still true: we’re all in this together.