There’s a lot of uncertainty facing organizations these days – the ongoing pandemic, conflicts overseas, inflation, supply chain disruptions and economic uncertainty. It might be tempting to wait for the storms to clear before investing in digital transformation, but that may not be the best strategy in a world that’s changing so rapidly.
The Time is Now for Digital Transformation
Over the past few years, many organizations have been making major investments in technology just to keep up with demands brought on by remote work trends and the pandemic. But more is needed to help improve operations, remain competitive and ensure future success.
47% say IT departments rate “low” on IT maturity scale. Gartner
IDC’s Tony Olvet says Canada is “still a bit behind on digital transformation. Generally speaking, Canadian decision-makers tend to be risk-averse. They’re more focused on IT/line of business partnership and sales cycle than on innovation.”
Since the start of the pandemic, we were forced to be very reactive and make big adjustments quickly. But making sure your business thrives long-term means taking a detailed look at your digital toolsets and making a plan for digital transformation that will take your business to new heights.
Digital Transformation Help for Business
Why do we say it’s a good time to invest? There’s financial help for Canadian small- and medium-sized businesses.
The federal government recently announced a $4 Billion Canada Digital Adoption Program (CDAP), providing loans and grants to Canadian businesses. The program has two components:
- Grow Your Business Online provides $2,400 to help up to 90,000 smaller businesses adopt e-commerce technologies such as website development, SEO support, social media advertising and fees for ecommerce platforms.
- Boost Your Business Technology offers grants to Canadian-owned small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) of up to 90% of the eligible cost of retaining the services of a digital advisor to develop a digital adoption plan. This grant value maxes out at $15,000 per eligible company, but there’s also support for plan implementation. Companies can apply for an interest-free loan of up to $100,000 from the BDC to roll out the plan, not to mention a wage subsidy for hiring a post-secondary student or new grad to help.
Creating a Plan
We are big proponents of careful planning for any technology project – not only assessing today’s requirements but future growth needs as well. CDAP prioritizes planning too. The first phase of the program is to analyze digital maturity and to build a plan, which we applaud.
Investing in technology without a plan won’t let you realize the expected benefits because all too often those investments fail to take a holistic view of the company, its interdependent technologies or future growth and scalability.
We can’t stress this point enough. Often clients come to us excited about a particular vision they have for application development, and they want to get started building right away. We’ve seen the consequences of poorly thought out and planned software projects, so we always emphasize the need to start any project with a deep dive into the existing software infrastructure and business processes. We follow it up with detailed planning including UI/UX design, accessibility standards compliance, security requirements and much more. It takes time and investment, but in the long term, it will be worth it.
Priorities for Technology Investment
So, where should IT leaders focus their efforts? Looking at the latest analyst reports, there are a few key buckets.
81% of organizations say strong, good customer experiences have a positive impact on financial performance, up 20% over the previous year.
Technology Investments: A CRM solution, like Dynamics 365, comes to mind immediately. But in the age of anytime, anywhere and on demand everything, the customer experience also demands ecommerce solutions, automation and self-serve solutions. Virtual agents and chatbots can also help enhance customer interactions.
66% of Canadian organizations expect their cyber budgets to increase in 2022. Considering 28% of Canadian medium-sized businesses were the target of a cyberattack in the 12 months before November 2021, and those attacks cost at least $50,000, it’s not a surprise security is on the mind of companies. The battle against ransomware is consistently ranked among top 5 priorities.
Technology Investments: There are hardware and software-based tools to help detect and prevent threats. On the software side, application security should be a top priority for all development projects, and daily vulnerability checks are critical. An experienced development partner knows how to architect, build and maintain solutions to safeguard corporate security.
The global big data and business analytics market is expected to reach $441.90 billion US by 2027 and there’s good reason – Business runs on data…or it should. It’s hard to adapt to the market forces accurately or rapidly if you don’t see shifts coming.
Technology Investments: Analytics platforms, like Microsoft’s Power BI, can help to remove data silos and provide a more holistic view of business and customer interactions. It’s not only important to have near real-time access to all your business data, but you also need to be able to visualize and analyze it in a way that gives you actionable insights. AI and automation can also help you get insights faster.
75% of Canadian enterprises planned on migrating all or some of their applications and data to the cloud in 2021, and 79% of organizations are continuing a mix of remote and in-person work, where cloud is a key enabler.
Technology Investments: Cloud migration and development are key digital transformation strategies that will give your organization increased flexibility and remote access, while often being more cost-effective. Rehosting applications to the cloud has become an increasingly popular modernization approach for easier management, the security benefits, and to transfer expenses from capital to operating budgets.
Weighing heavily on almost all industries is the tight labour market and the “Great Resignation”. One of the top strategies for addressing worker shortages is technology, according to the BDC and more specifically automation. Any technology that performs repetitive tasks with reduced human input helps to free up workers for value-added tasks. In addition, investing in technology to improve employee experience can help increase job satisfaction.
Technology Investments: Platform solutions can be beneficials for digitizing and automating workflows, or migrating from an unwieldy excel spreadsheet to a technology that will better support future growth. Improving collaboration with team workspaces such as SharePoint solutions, updating project management tools and deploying new web conferencing solutions can help enhance employees experience at work, which also aids retention.
Get Started On Your Digital Transformation
Digital transformation can help you increase efficiency, user satisfaction and growth potential. And when done right, has a significant ROI. With the recently announced grant and loan programs, there’s no better time to prioritize your digital transformation and application modernization projects.