Top upcoming digital transformation predictions

There are 10 things that every digital transformation team needs to know. Headed into 2021 and I’m going to talk about what those top 10 things are here today. 

2020 has been a very strange year one that many of us would like to forget or maybe move on from. So it’s fun to look forward to what 2021 may have in store for us and what some of the opportunities may be and ultimately how some of the changes of 2020 will affect us long term. And that’s exactly what I want to talk about here today. And what is perhaps the most predictable or expected entry in our top 10 list for 2021 is the fact that having a remote workforce is probably going to become somewhat normal in 2021. And at the very least will somewhat continue into 2021 or for at least part of the year and what we learned in 2020 is that many organizations are in fact able to operate and function. And thrive with remote workforce but as we’ll talk about in other items in this top 10 list there’s a lot of nuances and changes that come along with that we need to be prepared for in ways that our digital transformation. And how it can enable a remote workforce so there are two dimensions of the remote workforce. One is just our employee work base in general learning how to manage the changes and oversee the work. That’s being done by our remote workforce but for those of us going through digital transformations and managing transformation teams, there’s also the fact that we now need to manage remote team members. And we need to figure out how we’re going to transform our business while not necessarily meeting face-to-face as we would have in the past so these are two important dimensions of what is number 10 on our list of predictions for 2021.  

Prior to 2020 cloud adoption was already picking up quite a bit of steam and with the covet 19 pandemic and remote disparate workforces cloud computing has further accelerated in the year 2020. And will continue to do so in 2021 as organizations try to figure out how they’re going to manage a remote workforce and also how they’re going to manage remote applications. Remote data remote business processes remote organizational changes things of that nature are going to lead organizations to continue adapting to the cloud and moving more of their infrastructure to the cloud partly because they have to partly because it’s more viable. It’s more feasible it’s more accessible and it suddenly doesn’t make nearly as much sense to have all of your applications and infrastructure in-house when the rest of your employees aren’t in-house. And so given that so many organizations still don’t know when their employees will return to work or when all of their employees will return to work full-time if ever it makes a lot of sense that companies are going to continue down the path of cloud adaption so that’s number nine on our list for predictions of 2021. 

Another trend that was emerging in 2020 and prior to 2020 that is now accelerating given the coveted environment and the remote workforce is this whole concept of cybersecurity. So organizations now with disparate employees accessing the cloud infrastructure from multiple locations now have to worry about cybersecurity in a way they hadn’t had to worry about before. Now cybersecurity was always an issue and it’s always something that most CTO and IT teams take pretty seriously but now all of a sudden we’ve exposed ourselves to a lot more risk. Because we’ve got a remote workforce remote access to our infrastructure and applications remote data you have the issue of potential confidential and sensitive information. Residing on local machines in someone’s home so there’s a lot of issues that come along with this remote workforce that we’re moving towards and so cybersecurity is going to become even more important in 2021. And any sort of digital transformation needs to look at not only what applications and infrastructure are we going to migrate to but also how are we going to protect that infrastructure. And how are we going to ensure that we have the right security in place not just in terms of outside hackers? And people from foreign entities that might want to attack your internal infrastructure but also with your own employees who are accessing the systems remotely in potentially non-secure ways. So for all these reasons cybersecurity is something that should definitely be top of mind for digital transformation teams in 2021. 

Another lesson of 2020 is that a lot of organizations were caught flat-footed when they realized they weren’t able to adapt to a changing world as quickly as they needed or wanted. To so organizations that were more nimble more flexible more agile were able to change more quickly those are the organizations that we’re able to thrive in 2020. And those are also the organizations that will continue to thrive in 2021. And beyond as the world presumably continues to change as economic conditions presumably continue to be unpredictable and as the economy in general. And the market, in general, continues to throw curveballs the way of most organizations so one thing that companies have learned is that these old monolithic obsolete back-office ERP systems that are highly rigid and inflexible. Are suddenly not so appealing to organizations moving forward what’s more valuable is more flexible. Nimble agile systems that can be adjusted on the fly that can adapt to changing conditions as we go out and acquire companies or enter new markets or maybe even be acquired merge with other companies. Whatever the case maybe we need to have an infrastructure and digital transformation that supports those changes as an organization so one thing this is pointing us toward is less of a single ERP model. And more organizations migrating to a best-of-breed model in other words not just looking for one back office system to tie together the entire organization and the entire operations. But potentially going out and finding spot technologies that fit specific parts of your business and then ultimately trying to figure out how to tie together those systems. This will certainly be a challenge but that provides a certain amount of flexibility and risk mitigation that organizations really need to be headed into this new world. 

We’re entering so much flexibility in the way you manage your digital transformation and also the end result you get from your digital transformation should be top of mind for any digital transformation team in 2021. So project management has always been a critical skill for any successful digital transformation but digital transformation changes fundamentally as a result of the changing world we’re in in the new environment. We’re in program management becomes even more important and I’m not talking about traditional project management where we might have pmp certifications. And checklists that we go through to make sure that we do everything that’s on a project plan but the more strategic project management or the true program management managing multiple pieces of a digital transformation. This is suddenly becoming a lot more desirable to organizations than ever in the past and the reason for this is because organizations and their digital transformations are becoming more complex with more moving parts and more things to consider to where the traditional project management approach that may have worked for old school ERP implementations. 10 or 20 years ago isn’t as relevant today and we need a more strategic skill set in addition to the more traditional project management and certification. Types of skills that organizations often look for so when looking at how you’re going to manage your overall project it’s extremely important to find the right program management capability. In the world, we’re living in right now that model is suddenly not relevant and suddenly it’s not so justifiable to have a large army of consultants on a project.

When all the work is being done remotely you can’t see or have transparency into what those consultants are doing and that’s leading these big system integrators into a lot of financial trouble. And a lot of layoffs are occurring as a result so what comes along with this disruption is the fact that suddenly what may have been perceived as a reliable source of talent for a digital transformation. Suddenly isn’t so reliable and this really points us to other options in the marketplace that may be more viable whether it’s working with a smaller or boutique system integrator whether it’s working with staffing firms to staff resources. Directly in contractors directly for your transformation or potentially even hiring your own people in-house to help manage the transformation as well so while the system integrators. We may be struggling as a result of this current environment it’s an opportunity for you to take ownership of your project and to build those competencies in-house. And to really build that long-term capability that’s going to help you be successful during the digital transformation. As well as after one thing we started to notice just a few weeks after the pandemic really hit and after the quarantines and the shutdowns all started to happen.  There was a period where organizations were very panicked and may be uncertain as to how they were going to move forward with their transformations and just business in general. But once they got past that initial shock what we found is so many organizations now are a lot more decisive and they’re willing to move forward quickly they’re willing to make decisions quickly even if it’s not a perfect decision. They’re willing to move forward and not get caught up in some of the misalignment and the politics and things that have caused trouble or difficulty for organizations in the past. So going forward what we’re starting to see and what we expect to see in 2021 is organizations to continue to take control of their projects and to take ownership of their projects in a way. That maybe they hadn’t in the past during good times in certain times organizations could often get away without taking ownership of their projects and really outsourcing it to someone else. And spending more money than they needed to on their transformations but nowadays with the way the world is shifting the way the world is changing. So quickly companies that build competencies in-house and take control of their projects are the ones that are going to succeed the most in the long term as well as in the short term. During the transformations themselves so really look for organizations to take more ownership and control of their projects and if you’re part of a digital transformation team or an executive team. We highly encourage you to do the same heading into 2021.

Along with change and new ways of doing business new business models new digital transformations cyber security issues all the stuff we’ve talked about so far leads us down the path of needing to recognize that risk is suddenly higher there’s more risk now in the world than ever before whether it’s because of cyber security or whether it’s because the changes were being forced upon us are so dramatic that now it’s a higher risk proposition or initiative whatever the cause may be there’s a number of reasons why organizations are facing change in a way that’s unprecedented and as such companies need to mitigate risk and manage risks longer term so it’s a matter of being able to identify risk effectively being able to prioritize risk knowing that you can address and fix every single risk overnight and also being able to mitigate those risks and have a very solid mitigation plan now the companies that are most successful are able to do this in a way that’s very proactive in a way that they can anticipate the risk anticipate the problems before they become problems and the companies that can do that best are the ones that are going to be most successful and so think of risk mitigation as the guard rails that are going to help you through your transformation and the winding roads that you might be going down as an organization in general risk mitigation is a competency that will certainly help you through that process it used to be that if you needed a new erp system or your old drp or crm or hcm system was broken you would just go out and replace it. And do sort of a lift and shift with that technology and put in a new system what we’re seeing today is that that’s not so easy anymore with the world-changing the way it is there are a lot more options available. A lot more risk available so companies are able to define a clear and effective digital strategy that is aligned with their corporate goals and objectives. And can be executed effectively is going to be the type of company that’s going to succeed the most in the future so having a digital strategy. Competency an unbiased digital strategy competency is something that’s very important. And we’re seeing more and more companies value over time so as you think about your digital transformation in 2021. And beyond I highly encourage you to think about how can we define a clear digital strategy and roadmap that’s clearly aligned with our corporate goals and objectives. And is really enabling us to define what we want to be when we grow up and allows us to do so in the most effective manner so the digital strategy is one of the biggest keys to success in 2021. 

If you’ve seen any of my other top 10 lists over the years you know that change management usually finishes in the top three and oftentimes number one in my list of predictions or things that are most important to success. And this list is no different change management was always one of the most important things if not the most important thing that organizations needed to consider in their digital transformations. And with the way the world is changing the way the people have affected the stress and turmoil that’s created organizationally and human wise. With employees puts even more of a premium on organizational change management so companies that are able to manage organizational change management effectively. Are going to be the most successful and therefore we expect to see more organizations investing heavily in change management and ultimately ideally becoming more successful in their change initiatives rather than trying old dated ways of managing change. Overtime so I’d be curious to hear what you’re seeing in the market what is your organization experiencing what are some of the pitfalls. 

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