In this edition of Voices of the Industry, Jason Konzak, SVP, Professional Services at Flexential discusses how the experience of professional services organizations can help a business avoid disruptions during their digital transformation.
Digital transformation is admittedly a buzzword used by many organizations with differing meanings. While organizations may have unique needs, one universal challenge is mastering the implementation of technical change. Today’s business environment is changing at an increasingly rapid pace, and the use of technology to maintain a competitive edge is as important as ever, but now with higher stakes and shorter deadlines.
Digital transformation is the process of implementing technology changes to facilitate a desired future state. Done well, it enables organizations to achieve new outcomes to support business initiatives, increase efficiency and better serve customers. But done poorly, it can disrupt operations, create inefficiencies and drive away customers and employees.
According to a global study, 56% of businesses ranked digital transformation as their top technical initiative in 2020 and 2021. This is not surprising when you consider the business-altering impacts of COVID-19. According to a McKinsey report, the pandemic accelerated the adoption of digital technologies by years as businesses quickly adapted to changed circumstances.
COVID-19 aside, digital transformation remains a critical initiative to meet a variety of business needs. It can involve new cloud adoptions and migrations, new workload placements, enhanced network connectivity, updated disaster recovery (DR) strategies, expanded hybrid IT landscapes, and updated security and compliance initiatives. Yet, large-scale IT changes are complex, risk-laden, and exponentially more challenging than in the past because of the breadth and complexity of available technologies. The broad range of IT options also makes it unfeasible for IT teams to be experts in everything.
Effectively planning and executing a successful transformation requires not only strong technical expertise in new platforms, but also project management, change management, cybersecurity maturity and user training. Before the transformation begins, an organization must conduct an in-depth discovery process to understand the current state, solution requirements, technical interdependencies and challenges posed by legacy infrastructure. Without the right skill set and experience to conduct discovery, plan and then execute the transformation, an organization can introduce unnecessary risk to an already complicated process.
Achieving this high level of expertise and knowledge requires ongoing, hands-on experience. However, internal teams have rarely performed similar transformations and have not had the learning opportunities those experiences provide. This lack of experience makes internal teams more susceptible to gaps, errors, and the resulting risks and business disruptions that may occur as they work through a transformation.
Professional Services Can Bridge the Gap
Gathering the skill sets and deep-seated expertise to perform a digital transformation is difficult and expensive to achieve internally. IT leaders understand this, as 89% increasingly lean on advisors to guide them through new technologies, processes and methodologies. A third-party professional services organization can help organizations navigate and successfully complete their digital transformations faster and with less disruption than without having external assistance.
Leverage expertise. Professional services organizations offer access to IT professionals with expert-level certifications, training and experience across multiple IT disciplines. Professional services teams also conduct hundreds, or even thousands, of transformations across many businesses and industries each year. By aligning experienced experts with specific transformation needs, professional services organizations can deliver the precise skill set and expertise to achieve the desired outcomes.
While professional services may carry a premium cost relative to internal labor, the cost of hiring and retaining an IT team with deep and diverse expertise is expensive to achieve internally, especially if their experience is not needed long term.
Define success. A professional services engagement lets organizations add specialized resources as needed throughout the project. This is more than adding additional people to a project; it means purposefully mapping proficiencies with specific needs to deliver results and accelerate change. Most importantly, an engagement that can be defined within a statement of work outlines clear success criteria so all parties can agree on a “definition of done.”
Reduce risk. Over years of conducting various transformations, professional services teams have developed the needed experience, methodologies, tools and change processes to mitigate transformation risks and ensure a project’s success. These capabilities are especially critical for large, sweeping change with multiple variables and interdependencies that require a well-defined strategy and a network of change plans. Reducing risk and “getting it right the first time” also offers cost and efficiency benefits by avoiding unplanned disruptions and expensive downtime.
Improve confidence. Independent third parties add the benefit of fresh, experienced eyes to ostrengthen an organization’s confidence in both the approach and the resulting solution, minimize indecisiveness and delays, and ensure the intended outcomes.
Build a roadmap. Staying ahead of the IT curve is critical for continually expanding organizational capabilities and building competitive advantage. Professional services can provide a strategic and visionary mindset with expertise in cutting-edge solutions that an internal team may not possess.
Professional Services with a Consultative Approach
Finding the right partner to help plan and implement a digital transformation is key. A highly certified and experienced Professional Services organization should not only offer a broad portfolio of IT consulting services, but should also act as an extension of the organization’s internal IT team. Flexential understands that digital transformation is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. Our consultative approach gets to the heart of an organization’s transformational needs and allows us to create strategic roadmaps that address customer challenges and facilitate success.
As business landscapes and needs continue to evolve, digital transformation will remain a driving force in helping organizations move forward and adapting how they manage and modernize their technology. Professional service organizations provide the breadth and depth of expertise that supports organizations to take the necessary next steps in their digital evolutions to accelerate transformation success, reduce risks and improve their transformation outcomes.
Jason Konzak is SVP, Professional Services for Flexential. Flexential empowers the IT journey of the nation’s most complex businesses by offering flexible and tailored hybrid IT solutions comprised of colocation, cloud, connectivity, data protection, managed, and professional services. See how Flexential goes beyond the four walls of the data center to empower IT through an interactive map.