Fortune favours the ‘bold’ with digital transformation

  • Posted on January 18, 2017

The following blog post was written by Avanade alum Darren Hardman

Digital transformation is no longer a distant dream – it is under way, with more organisations than you might think already reaping the benefits of replacing ageing legacy infrastructure with the latest cloud-based and digital technology.

I’ve had the opportunity to speak with many of our Avanade clients over the past six months. Each organisation has its own unique set of objectives and challenges, but several common themes have emerged, which I’ve attempted to summarise here. Have a read and let me know to what extent it matches what you’re seeing in your own business.

Cloud is Transformative

Cloud is a prominent topic for many of our clients, but what really stands out is how it enables them to truly transform their operations.

One client from the insurance sector turned to Avanade’s expertise and Microsoft technology to help it move away from an incredibly complex and inefficient technology infrastructure built up over 20 years, which at one point almost contributed to the collapse of the business.

By moving the plethora of poorly-integrated policy systems technology infrastructure to Azure, the company now has capabilities it could only dream of previously, not least resilience in its previously fragile network.

The new set-up has seen a dramatic reduction in employees contacting IT with issues, while policy systems are running much more smoothly than they ever did on the old datacentre. This means the company can focus on its core business rather than having to battle with issues created by creaky infrastructure.

Cloud also played a crucial role in the world’s largest-ever email migration conducted by a large public sector client. Responding to a huge shortfall in funding, the organisation has had to make huge efficiency savings to avoid any reduction in critical services.

Better use of IT was key to realising these efficiencies and the organisation worked with Avanade and Accenture to migrate over 1 million email inboxes to a Microsoft cloud-based infrastructure, providing the foundation on which to build a national collaboration platform.

Following this mammoth project, the organisation is now looking to use cloud capabilities like instant messaging and presence to enable user groups to communicate and share intelligence in real time, improving productivity. Even more transformative, Skype for Business could soon support virtual consultations, significantly reducing the number of face-to-face consultations needed.

The impact of this is clear, as it will help over 1 million staff perform better for the millions of people who depend on the service.

A final example is a major utilities company which is using Microsoft Azure to provide elastic scaling that will deliver the capacity to meet demand while delivering cost benefits.  With the vast majority of customer interactions taking place during the annual billing process, there is a large spike in demand placed on billing systems, CRM and content management at very specific times of the year.

By using cloud, the organisation is able to only pay for the capacity it needs at any given time, rather than have a fixed capacity that means there is a significant amount of redundancy much of the time. This enables the company to reduce operational costs, while knowing it has a reliable infrastructure when it needs it. It may not grab the headlines, but in the world of utilities, this is game changing.

Digital Transformation Isn’t Always Simple

Despite the dramatic changes that cloud brings, digital transformation isn’t always as simple as delivering new and shiny applications.

Users now expect a lot from IT but getting the basics right is still the most important element of any IT project. Avanade CTIO Mark Corley recently summed this up well when he told me: “I love the wows, but that’s always in pockets – actually the basics are what we need to bring everyone up to.”

One client described the design work that supported its transformation as “hard going” and cited legacy issues around Windows 2003 as the cause of a few headaches before Microsoft became involved and demonstrated how Azure could help to alleviate these.

Now these issues have been solved, the company is looking forward to progressing to the next stage of the transformation project by adopting Microsoft Dynamic AX for ERP.

Be Positive and Bold

There’s a common thread among all the stories I have listened to over the past few months. The appetite for change is the cornerstone to helping organisations overcome challenges and deliver successful digital transformation projects.

All of the customers I’ve spoken to have faced major business challenges. They realised the only way to address them was to fundamentally change the IT they used.

One of my Avanade colleagues was right to praise a particular client’s openness to adopting the recently-released Windows 10 and moving to the public cloud. Describing it as a “bold move” struck a particular chord with me.

With a growing need to be responsive to changing economic conditions and remove complexity, businesses can no longer afford to stick with broken and failing infrastructure. They need to fully embrace digital transformation or face major challenges in the not-too-distant future.

Digital transformation may not always be easy but the benefits it brings can no longer be ignored. Time to be bold.

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