It's almost 2021, and your company still depends on analog solutions for some of your processes. You might have paper receipts, paper logs, your data still resides on local spreadsheets, your client records are housed on an aging, in-house database, or your delivery pipeline is an ad-hoc collection of disconnected pieces that only function properly because you know how to move data from one machine to the next.
That melange of unrelated, disconnected technology and outdated methods is not doing your business any favors. In fact, it's slowing you down and even preventing you from keeping up with the competition.
In today's world of fast technology, businesses need to be able to pivot at a moment's notice. You cannot do that unless you've put your company through a full-blown digital acceleration.
What is digital acceleration?
First, we must define digital acceleration. Essentially, this concept is when a business adopts technology to transform services and/or businesses by replacing non-digital/manual processes or aging technology with the modern, digital equivalent. The pace of that adoption is often quick and responds to the ever-changing demands of markets and customers, hence the "acceleration" that marks the need for businesses to adapt as fast as possible to those changes.
Think of it this way: You have a growing client database that has outgrown MySQL. To take a necessary step in your digital acceleration process. You might migrate that to a more performant, big data-ready NoSQL database, which can then be linked to various cloud solutions. You have worked a digital acceleration step on your client records.
But you can do much more than that. In fact, your goal should transform your entire company into modern technology that can take your business to the next level.
Let's outline a process to help make this easy for you.
Define digital acceleration for your specific needs.
The first step in your digital acceleration process is to define your specific needs. These needs will be directly related to the sector your business serves. This is an incredibly important step, because it will lay out exactly what your goals are.
Is your goal 100% digital? If so, what does that entail? Is it centered around a web-based solution? Does it require a big data-ready database? Will you require containers or need to migrate some of your systems to edge computing? There are a lot of questions to start asking yourself, questions that should probably start with one of the most important pieces of data in your business: your client records.
If this step seems insurmountable, start from the end goal and work backward. If you want to go 100% digital, what does that look like in the end? Are you talking about a full-blown digital pipeline from customer management to product development and delivery? Once you have defined the endgame, you can work backward to the very beginning of the process.
But before you can walk, you must crawl. This is your crawl.
Inventory your related assets.
The next step is to take a full inventory of what technology you have that can be used for this digital acceleration. You'll most likely be surprised at how much you have that can be repurposed: Servers, PCs and Macs, networking equipment, security equipment, peripherals.
As you take this inventory, note which role each piece will serve. When you complete this inventory, you'll discover what holes you need to fill to complete the process.
If you dive into a digital acceleration process without this inventory, you'll spend more money than is necessary.
Develop a road map.
With your inventory in place, next, you need to create a roadmap from start to finish. This road map should set specific milestones for your transformation journey. Is your first milestone getting your client data migrated over to a scalable, digital solution, or is it deploying a hybrid cloud to serve as your pipeline?
Be specific, and don't hesitate to outline a number of baby steps. Just make sure this road map is viable for your business. Aim high, but don't make the process impossible.
Hire the necessary talent.
Now that you have your inventory and your roadmap, things should start crystallizing. One point that you'll need to take care of is an inventory of your talent. Do you have the necessary developers with the talent to pull this process off? If not, what types of talent do you need to hire and where will you find them?
Don't skip this step, as you will need considerable talent to pull off your digital acceleration.
Get your data in order.
You have probably already started this process with your customer data transformation. But that data isn't all there is to your company. You have products, services, staff information, internal and external documentation, websites, client and supplier information, and code. All of this is precious cargo for your business and must be prepped for the acceleration process.
How do you prepare all of this data? The first step is to know the types of databases that will be required for each piece of the puzzle. Once you have decided on the database type, you'll then have to figure out how to migrate each old database to the new database. This will be an incredibly challenging (and time-consuming) step. Make sure to give this step all of the care it deserves, as it can make or break your process.
Accelerate your digital capabilities.
Finally, speed up your digital transformation and make it a digital acceleration process. If you've taken the time to get every piece of the puzzle properly prepared, said process should be considerably easier than if you attempted this ad hoc. And when you're ready to begin the acceleration flow, make sure to give it the time it deserves. This will be a complicated and lengthy process. If you rush it, it will fail. If you're patient and use caution, the transition can be smooth.
Don't fool yourself, a full-blown digital acceleration will be one of the biggest challenges the tech side of your business has ever undertaken. That’s especially so because a digital acceleration process doesn’t truly end. As new technologies appear and reshape markets, industries, and even customers’ habits, you’ll need to keep on adjusting your business procedures to them.
That ongoing adaptation is the only way you can make sure that your business is always ahead of the competition and aligns with current needs and requirements. Thus, a digital acceleration process becomes an essential part of any modern business.