Digital transformation can be challenging as it can affect so many aspects of a business. Businesses today use digital interfaces and collect data from many back-end systems. Having access to this data and gaining business insights from it by analyzing it, can inform business decisions, increase efficiency and boost profits.
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What is digital transformation?
Digital transformation is integrating digital technology into all areas of a business to change the way it operates and offer more value to customers. It is also a cultural change that requires businesses to constantly challenge the status quo. It is the capacity to be proactive as technological evolutions and societal changes accelerate.
Formulating effective digital transformation strategies
Digital transformation is not just about implementing new technology but about the strategies businesses use. These will vary depending on their specific challenges. Formulating digital transformation strategies is necessary to integrate, coordinate, and prioritize what needs to be done.
It makes sense to start with areas that will have the most impact on business efficiency. For example, a business may decide to focus attention on speed, innovation, and digitalization. Once these goals are in place, it can then decide on the technology to adopt to make this possible.
The first step business owners need to take is to evaluate their current systems and assess what they need to address. This requires a rethinking of old operating models and figuring out how to turn data into actionable intelligence that can make a difference to the customer experience and more. It requires looking at what technologies are crucial to scale and perform better.
Focus on core intangible assets: customers and data
The Operational Data Store (ODS) provides a solution to one of the main challenges businesses face today. As data storage occurs in many internal and external systems, it is not immediately available for analysis. The ODS centralizes data from the different systems into a single repository. It ensures better reporting and more informed decision-making based on real-time insights.
More people within an organization have reporting capabilities as access to individual systems of record is usually restricted for security reasons.
Before loading data to the ODS, it is cleaned and redundancies are resolved. Moving data between hot, cold and warm storage is possible based on business rules which means the most important data is always in the RAM, allowing for fast access.
Build bridges between existing technologies and emerging ones
Some areas high on transformation agendas are increasing customer support via tools like chatbots, using automation tools for resilience, and getting rid of conflicting or redundant systems.
It can be difficult for businesses to shed outdated processes and legacy technology. Those that spend a large percentage of the IT budget operating and maintaining legacy systems may not have much capital to seize new opportunities. Continuing to use legacy systems can stop organizations from accessing real-time analytics that help drive the improvements required to be successful in an increasingly competitive marketplace.
Digital transformation usually means taking step after step in the right direction and there may be no need to rip out and replace existing systems. For example, it is possible to transform a traditional ODS in ways that deal with its limitations. Businesses can choose to augment an existing ODS with missing layers by adding event-driven architecture, analytics, a smart cache, and microservices API.
Those who manage to build bridges between the capabilities of their existing technologies and emerging technologies have an effective way to transform.
Design for low latency, scalability and high availability
Inserting an in-memory data grid between the back-end systems and the API layer addresses many of the challenges of a traditional ODS. With distributed in-memory computing, a next-generation ODS can power demanding digital applications, offering the necessary speed and scalability.
Decoupling digital applications from the systems of record increases agility and ensure operational efficiency at all times. It allows for low latency and high throughput. A high concurrency of users is possible without affecting performance and applications can keep working when one system of record is down.
By taking pressure off back-end systems, customers can get the response time they expect. Volumes and peak times are no longer an issue with automatic triggers to elastically scale either up or out for transactional and analytical workloads. The scaling process occurs in a rolling manner without downtime and the cache stays fully operational.
The next-generation ODS makes hybrid integration possible for businesses that have data on-premise and in the cloud. It also allows new applications to be added easily and data can be replicated across sites in real-time, even if they are in remote locations.
By running analytics on real-time data and enriching it with historical data, predictive modeling becomes more accurate.
Transform company culture
One of the biggest challenges to digital transformation initiatives is risk-averse company culture. This means management needs to be effective and efficient with communication to gradually encourage people to adopt the benefits and advantages digital technologies allow. It involves assessing the company culture, the skill sets available, and the readiness of employees. It means allaying employees’ fears that digital transformation could threaten their jobs and giving them opportunities to upgrade their expertise to suit the marketplace of the future.
Digital transformation requires a roadmap with clearly defined strategies but there should also allow for flexibility and room for adjustment along the way. The challenge for many businesses is to know where they want to go, what they need to get there, and to get there successfully with the necessary controls in place. Forecasting methods and project management is necessary in order not to lose the way in endless technological and organizational debates.
A final word
Digital transformation is complex and businesses need to plan properly and go about it in the right way or they could waste money. Successfully navigating digital transformation requires awareness, informed decision-making, and fast execution.
A next-generation ODS provides a way to help drive digital transformation. It enables businesses to dramatically improve their throughput and scalability, and offers high availability and the agility necessary to drive innovation.