Future-Proofed Technology: A Key Component Of Digital Transformation

Regardless of what you read today about technology, “digital transformation” is the current buzz word. In truth, digital transformation isn’t new; it’s been occurring for some time now, and it’s a continuous optimization journey to maximize digital technologies and streamline business processes — ultimately helping companies to be more agile, innovative, competitive and successful.

Because business transformation in respect to leveraging existing or emerging digital technologies is an ongoing process, it’s not a once-and-done project. New technology is always coming to light, and even with our best forecasts and theories, we’ll eventually go beyond machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI) and the internet of things (IoT) in ways we can’t imagine yet. With that in mind, how much can we future-proof our technology for the foreseeable time ahead? How can we prevent implementing new solutions only to pay the cost of replacing them again and again in our quest for peak optimization?

The pinnacle of digital transformation is an ever-changing apex. No company can reach the top and sustain its foothold without changing with it. And no technology solution is perfect, nor will it ever be. That’s the imperfect world we live in, and new innovations will create a cause for existing technologies to change continuously with those developments. However, there are ways businesses can alleviate so much displacement of systems only to usher in new ones again and again. Here are a few of my top tips:

Select beyond the here and now.

When selecting new technologies, think beyond your present need to what you may require down the road. This requires two avenues of thought and a little forward thinking. First, how might the problem you are trying to solve today change over time, and what will you need in the solution to solve that potential future problem? Will the system you are acquiring have the agility and ability to adapt to future needs — without costing your business more money?

Second, you need to look beyond the challenge you are trying to solve with a single technology. You have to consider your entire technology stack. Interconnectedness plays a big role in digital transformation. If another system you are using changes in architecture, can the technology you are considering work synergistically with it in the future?

Adopt a cloud-first strategy.

The debate over cloud versus on-premise solutions has gone on past its expiration date. But, can you truly digitally transform a company without cloud technology? In my opinion, the answer is no, especially if you want to future-proof your systems and be prepared for a constantly changing world. Cloud platforms offer agility, can scale quickly and can be constantly developed without disruptive or costly upgrades.

Upgrades can require operating system (OS) updates, too, which could also necessitate upgrades to hardware. This was most recently noted with the migration from SAP’s EEC enterprise resource planning (ERP) system to the new S/4HANA. The upgrade requires switching to the Linux OS.

Data and data analysis are at the heart of digital transformation, and more companies want meaningful, actionable data from across the enterprise. That requires a level of integration between systems that is done best with cloud technology. Businesses need to move away from siloed information — a more common experience with on-premise software — in order to achieve the full transformative power of digital technology.

Provide development feedback to vendors.

Technology vendors rely on input from customers and the market at large to create their product development roadmaps. As needs and gaps arise in existing technology, inform your vendor. It’s far easier and cost-effective for you when a vendor provides new functionality than it is to replace a system altogether.

Join vendor focus groups or advisory boards to provide feedback. Attend user conferences to help shape the future of the systems you use. Take advantage of touch points with your customer success representative and let your rep know of anything you see missing in the vendor’s solution. Provide your entire wish list. A solution provider can’t act on every suggestion, but often, when enough customers present similar requests, a product enhancement makes it to the development roadmap.

Regularly review your tech stack.

Periodically review your entire tech stack. A change in one system can impact another. Pay attention to changing technology trends and make sure you are able to meet them if they add value and increase your competitive advantage. Alert other vendors of changes in a system or architecture that could affect other systems. If you help vendors stay ahead of those changes, you can help your company avoid technology displacement.

Look for ways to run all of your systems efficiently, especially when it comes to integration and data sharing. At times, a vendor or system can’t keep up with changing demands. When that happens and creates inefficiencies, weigh the cost and value of switching. Many legacy technologies have gone the way of the dodo when they no longer aligned with business needs.

When all is said and done, it’s important to select systems that can grow with you and that have the potential to accommodate the needs of tomorrow as well as today. Furthermore, try to move as many applications to the cloud as possible for greater agility and to end costly upgrade traps. Finally, we all must play a proactive role in dictating the development of existing technology to keep it future-proofed.


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