Digital transformation: Eyes on the sky and a focus on the cloud

Cloud computing has changed how enterprise computing is done and remains central to digital transformation

Ivan Goor, group chief executive of Ardanis: ‘My advice is to not do that ‘big bang’ approach’

Helping enterprise clients to transform their business is the bread and butter of software and technology consultancy Ardanis, and while each project is bespoke, there are some features that are common across most. Among them is a clear focus on the cloud.

“Really, we often talk about digital transformation in terms of cloud, adopting cloud or how you change your strategies,” Ivan Goor, group chief executive of Ardanis, said.

Typically, enterprise customers are aware of the scale of the challenge ahead, coming to partners like Ardanis to address roadblocks.

“They might come to us and say that they have a problem: ‘how can we change the development methodology’, for instance,” Goor said.

However, not every business has a realistic approach to digital transformation. Surprisingly, despite the increasingly fluid nature of tech and a widespread sense that infrastructure is acting as a roadblock, some businesses want to simply ‘lift-and-shift’ existing applications to the cloud or else follow traditional, monolithic development methodologies.

This was a mistake, said Goor, and the end result of doing so could well be as severe as a failed project.

Indeed, Goor said, the point of moving to the cloud was not to simply move from one kind of technology infrastructure to another, or even to take infrastructure out of the picture, but to give businesses the ability to develop flexible strategies that can adapt to the rapidly changing customer needs and desires they are now experiencing.

Of course, old habits die hard, even when they themselves are a barrier to change.

“There is still that perception, with some businesses anyway, that you can follow the traditional way of doing things, but if you go that way you have already missed the boat. Cloud is so good because you can break things down and do it incrementally,” said Goor.

“That side of things is really where we come into play,” he said.

Goor said that the problem with simply migrating traditional applications and systems was that while it may help move away from ageing infrastructure, it did not bring the key benefits of a true digital transformation. In addition, it may not even work.

“If you're coming from on-prem you don't really want to do a lift-and-shift. That's not really cloud-native anyway, and what you've built in a server room somewhere may not be suited to the cloud,” he said.

Why transform?

One thing that cannot be forgotten is the reason why digital transformation is on the agenda in the first place: customers are demanding it. While the concept of the digital native has been overplayed to some degree, the fact remains that more and more people want to not only do business online, but are no longer willing to wait for the result of tasks such as quotations or reconciliation.

On top of this, the competitive challenge is growing. Organisations in Ireland, as well as across the world, are responding to very real challenges, including new challengers.

Goor said that lessons can be learned from those sectors and businesses that are recognised as leading transformations. Typically, leading sectors are those that have adapted by moving to agile methodologies in order to ensure that they can move fast without fear of failure.

“If you look at big insurance companies and private equity-backed disruptors, they have to get results quickly,” he said.

“We're seeing a lot of growth on the ‘green tech’ side of things. They're trying to be as efficient as possible and are really focusing in on the sustainable side of it.”

Goor said that his advice for any business that was on the path to digital transformation, based on the years of experience developed at Ardanis, was to break their project down into manageable pieces. That way, not only is risk drastically reduced, but it also affords an opportunity to think about what further steps can be taken to drive even deeper transformation.

“My advice is to not do that ‘big bang’ approach. As you start to learn the benefits it becomes easier to gather close learnings. The benefits become really clear,” he said.