In a recent study, fewer than half of business leaders (47%) said they’ve developed and communicated a digital transformation strategy. Yet, four out of five respondents believe digital transformation will bring positive change to their industries.
With positive change being the expectation, you’d think more business leaders would’ve kicked off their transformation strategies by now. But chances are they haven’t because many still don’t understand what they are—and there’s no one better to explain it to them than IT service providers.
As a managed service provider (MSP), you should be having conversations with clients about what digital transformation is, what it entails, and what the point of it is.
Before you define digital transformation to clients, educate yourself. Your customers are bound to have lots of questions, especially if they’ve done a Google® search for the term and become even more confused by the tortuous definitions that searches tend to pull up.
Simply put, digital transformation boils down to getting existing digital assets to work in unison with new technology advances to deliver tangible business outcomes. A client might rightfully ask, “Isn’t that something we already do, anyway?” Well, yes, but now you are taking a truly holistic view of how to make every last piece of your digital environment work toward your digitization goals.
A well-crafted digital transformation plan starts with assessment. That’s how you determine if existing databases, routers, servers, applications, operating systems, and other digital assets are up-to-date, compatible, and performing optimally. Then, keeping in mind what digital assets the customer wants to add, you have to decide where to update, upgrade, or replace.
You also have to address architecture and bandwidth considerations to future-proof your clients’ digital environments. You’ll want to ensure there’s enough built-in scalability and elasticity to support business growth. The assessment phase can lead to difficult decisions because this is when clients start to realize how much they’ll have to invest in digital transformation. But without investment, there’s no digital transformation.
If the point of digital transformation is to improve business outcomes, you have to help clients define those outcomes. Improving customer experience is one of the most commonly articulated goals, but it doesn’t happen in a vacuum. If you try to improve customer interfaces without refining background processes, the results are bound to disappoint.
Clients need to understand how all the pieces fit together to produce one outcome. If a business wants to improve online shopping, for instance, it isn’t enough to introduce a nicely designed website. Are the transaction and inventory systems that support the site working well? Are customers receiving recommendations targeted to their tastes, and is the feedback button easy to find? Is the return policy clear and easy?
When you get right down to it, digital transformation is about goals. But before businesses can properly set goals, they must decide what they are. As an MSP, your role is to help clients set and achieve them.
Pedro Pereira is a Massachusetts-based writer who has covered the IT channel for two decades. Recognized as one of the first journalists to cover managed services, Pedro continues to track, analyze and report on the IT channel and the growing MSP partner community.
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