IT drives change but firms need to steer it

With the right planning, technology can help businesses to ready themselves for changing market conditions

Nick Connors, group chief executive, TEKenable

Faced with rapid evolution in both markets and technology, organisations today are well aware of the need for digital transformation. The question, then, is do they know how to approach the process or understand what needs to be changed, and why?

“It’s really a mix of both. Some customers are at the very start of the journey and they know that they need to do something but are not quite sure what to do or where to start,” said Nick Connors, group chief executive of TEKenable.

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Year founded: 2002

Number of staff: 210

Why it is in the news: As more companies seek to replace legacy systems, TEKenable is responding by offering a holistic approach that examines both the business and IT

As a result, TEKenable engages consultatively, taking time to assess its customers’ businesses, as well as educating them, he said.

“We spend some time helping customers understand the options open to them, but also where to start and the possible roadmap or journey they would take, costs, timelines and so on.”

This is necessary because organisations embark on a digital transformation journey for many different reasons, Connors said.

“Reducing cost is a huge factor in digital transformation as businesses get hamstrung by existing systems and applications which, in the main, are old or legacy systems.”

More broadly, legacy systems in general are a problem for many organisations, resulting in customers being subjected to cumbersome technology while competitors appear offering more frictionless alternatives.

Another driving force in transformation is a desire for improved reporting, something that is greatly facilitated by developing not only systems for handling data, but clear data governance rules.

“Many businesses haven’t got a clear view of how they are performing due to data silos across the organisation. Today, with cloud-based reporting, it is possible that people can get access to the data they need, whether they are in customer service, sales, marketing, accounting, or on the board.”

Beyond these rationales for transformation, there are also externally-facing factors, such as the desire to interact with potential customers through new methods of sales and marketing, from CRM to campaign tools.

In addition, increasingly important for many organisations is ESG (environmental, social and governance) compliance.

Digital transformation must be led by the business, but IT will certainly play a part in that journey and should not be excluded

Connors said that digital transformation presented an opportunity not only to get control of data governance, but also to reduce organisational energy use.

“There is a huge carbon saving by moving from legacy systems to the cloud, and centralising data protects your data but also gives you secure access to it for governance and reporting.”

Clearly then, while digital transformation will certainly involve taking a new approach to enterprise IT, it is not a purely technological process. But has this message got out?

“In the main, yes,” said Connors. “Digital transformation must be led by the business, but IT will certainly play a part in that journey and should not be excluded. The business leads the transformation but must be supported by IT. It cannot be the other way around as it has traditionally been.

“The business must have clear goals and objectives to achieve on its strategic roadmap, and we in TEKenable can help it with that and also create a business case to justify the investment and realise the payback for the business,” he said.

It is not a one-off event either, and indeed, given the litany of high-profile failures, so-called ‘big bang’ IT projects have very much fallen out of favour anyway.

Instead, Connors said, digital transformation should be seen as an ongoing process or journey.

“The day you stop transforming or changing is the day your business will go backwards. This is because customers change, markets change, competitors change, and people and technology change. As a result, if you, as a business, are not set up for change or transformation then you will be left behind.”