Digital transformation can mean different things to different organizations.
For some, it might mean digitizing paper documents. For others, it could mean taking older, monolithic systems and migrating them over to faster, more composable systems that can be customized to meet the business’ needs.
Regardless of where your organization is on its journey, potential roadblocks must be overcome to succeed. Unfortunately, such challenges are common. In fact, Boston Consulting Group reports that as many as 70% of digital transformation initiatives fail. However, they also share that 80% of organizations are accelerating the adoption of new digital technologies to transform their business. This means that the desire to continually improve the process remains strong.
In this two-part series, we aim to help you overcome some of the most common hurdles that organizations face today so you can achieve your digital transformation goals. While the first blog focused on organizational structure and thinking, this one spotlights the technology aspect of digital transformation and how teams can ensure a smoother transition throughout the process.
Too Many Legacy Systems
While smaller, newer organizations often have a simple technology environment where they can identify and modify key systems, older or larger organizations are rarely afforded the same opportunity.
Large organizations may struggle to identify all active systems and their contents, but many have business-critical reasons for maintaining legacy systems. According to conversations with Access clients, most are dealing with at least one, if not many of these platforms, and struggle to find a way to extricate themselves from the predicament.
The Problem: Obstacles to Transitioning Systems
“Transitioning documents to the [old] system was cumbersome and time consuming,” mentioned one Access client. “With an already strapped workforce, it seemed insurmountable.” The resulting technical debt that can occur from such an issue poses a huge obstacle to succeeding in digital transformation initiatives. While challenging to solve, it is possible with the right tools and newer targeted technology.
The trick is to tackle the challenge before it exacerbates and the number of systems in use increases. Every handoff and delay between business functions introduces more chances for time lags, errors, miscalculations, data governance issues, and more.
While at first it might seem the best course of action is to just pull all the files out of these aging systems and migrate them into a newer one, it’s rarely that simple. Oftentimes these legacy systems won’t play nice with newer ones and a seemingly simple project can quickly turn into an expensive, complex, and time-consuming effort.
The Solution: Adopting New Technology
The best way to overcome these issues is to adopt a technology that is tailor-made to integrate and rescue these stranded records. You’ll want one that has the following criteria to:
- Centralize and protect files
- Allow for secure sharing and collaboration
- Extract and transfer records quickly
- Track records in a secure and auditable fashion
Rescuing stranded records isn’t easy, but if you start small, you can start to remove these legacy systems from your tech stack to reduce technical debt.
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Technological Skills Gaps
Digital transformation sounds like it’s all about embracing new technologies and ways of working, but the part that often gets left out are the people affected by these changes, whether positive or negative. While it might be a necessity for many businesses, observes James Davidson, Digital Strategist at 7Summits, “so many of these [digital transformation] efforts fail due to a lack of change management.”
We all know that standards change over time. To use programming languages as an example, this video below from Statisticsanddata.org shows just how the popularity and number of programming languages has shifted over time:
The problem is twofold. First, people are reluctant to change from a way of working that they are used to. If they are used to programming in C, they want to continue to do so. Second, these days, with thousands of possible languages to specialize in, it’s not impossible to find people who specialize in older, more niche programming languages—but it will certainly be more difficult and more expensive.
The same rules apply to software and digital transformation.
If your organization is using older, legacy technology, there’s always going to be some friction when trying to switch over to newer ways of working. For instance, if there is a steep learning curve when adopting a new technology, your end users might opt to go back to paper and/or old processes instead because it’s quicker for them than trying to figure out a new platform.
The best way to mitigate this is by adopting change management principles into your digital transformation initiative. We’ve talked about this in-depth on our blog before, but in short, there are a few steps you can take:
- Organize a change team that represents everyone in the organization
- Understand what successful adoption looks like
- Monitor for results
- Ask for constant feedback from end users
- Train, collect feedback, then train again.
Digital transformation projects can be sprawling, multi-faceted and involve a large swath of people at the organization.
In order to achieve success in these endeavors, it’s important to set yourself up for success by planning for potential roadblocks and partnering with organizations that can help you transition into a digitally enabled organization.
If you need practical guidance on how to approach the integration of digital technologies into your organization’s business processes, check out our informative guide, the Integrated Information Management Roadmap.
Download Our Integrated IM Roadmap Now!
If you’re looking to overcome the obstacles often associated with retiring legacy systems, watch our webinar: Introducing Access Unify | Secure Compliance – Free Your Legacy Records.