The CIO’s Guide to Digital Transformation Trends

August 28, 2018

4 minute read

Digital disruption is transforming all industries, improving the speed, efficiency and overall results of innumerable business processes. But that very potential also makes digital transformation a top stress for CIOs, with research from Gartner showing that two-thirds of digital leaders fear that if they don’t pick up the pace of adoption, they’ll lose ground to their competitors. Plus, compounding the stress of these digital transformation trends:

An annual survey of CIOs found that the vast majority do not believe their businesses are currently effective at using digital to advance business strategy.

Though it’s a key buzzword, developing a digital transformation strategy doesn’t have to be the vast, overwhelming prospect many fear it to be. Read on to learn how to fast-track digital transformation in your business.

The state of digital transformation

Whether it’s helping enterprises to reduce their compliance risks under the new GDPR regulations, assisting financial institutions with the massive undertaking that is recovery and resolution planning, or creating machine learning-based models to help insurers better identify high-risk applicants, the potential of technology to transform complex business processes is virtually infinite.

It’s not that digital leaders don’t grasp the potential: according to the Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO Survey for 2018, 48 percent reported that their teams are very or extremely effective at understanding the impact of digitization on their industries. But rather, implementing digital tactics to improve results remains a challenge, as the survey results also show.

Approximately 4 in 10 of those surveyed said they are “not at all” or “slightly” effective at promoting a vision of using digital to transform business. A similar number reported “no“ to “slight” effectiveness at redesigning business processes to take advantage of digital. And while the survey found that cloud and mobile adoption are both high, few businesses are yet taking advantage of innovations such as artificial intelligence and robotic process automation. Indeed, many seem locked in the planning phases.

Digital transformation challenges

So what’s holding businesses back from realizing the key benefits seen in digital transformation trends? According to one report published by the Harvard Business Review, legacy systems and organizational silos remain a key challenge. Compounding these problems is an ongoing increase—year-over-year growth for four years straight—in shadow IT seen in the Harvey Nash KPMG study.

Shadow IT is the utilization of digital technologies outside of IT’s purview, and the disjointed nature of such approaches further contributes to fragmented and unstructured organizational data across business lines. This siloed data, in turn, increases the challenge of effectively leveraging new technologies, and weakens the results when data-dependent technologies are put in place.

CIOs are keenly aware of these gaps: just three percent of those surveyed by Harvey Nash and KPMG believed they were “extremely effective” at using technology to advance business strategy, while 78 percent admitted they had room–in some cases, lots of room–for improvement.

The data problem

As with anything else in life, approaching big changes wholesale can make them feel overwhelming, if not impossible to achieve. Meanwhile, breaking overarching new strategies into smaller, actionable steps can be an effective way to drive change.

If legacy systems and organizational silos are among the key digital transformation challenges, then it follows that the first step to digital transformation is putting the pieces in place to make organizational data holistic and readily utilized. It’s currently estimated that the vast majority of data—80 percent—is unstructured.

Unstructured data is data that exists in varying formats that cannot be readily digested or processed. This might include text documents which have been stored as photo files (meaning the text cannot be read and ingested) or content that hasn’t been properly organized and categorized so that no one knows what’s there or how it might be useful. However you plan to use it, getting a handle on unstructured data is a key first step to digital transformation.

Fortunately, there are tools that can help CIOs fast-track their company’s approach to digital transformation. The first step is identifying where data exists within the organization, and then standardizing it into a universally accessible format (such as PDF). Often this means starting with Enterprise Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology, which transforms image-based documents into searchable text assets. From there, automation tools can assist in classifying and categorizing documents, identifying and eliminating redundant, obsolete or trivial data along the way. Once this formerly-dark data has been enriched and a plan is put in place for ingesting new data moving forward, an organization will be in a position to more easily and effectively leverage new digital technologies, allowing them to transform business operations and results.

Wrapping up

Given the sheer scale of the potential that current trends in digital transformation hold, it’s understandable why many CIOs feel their organizations are not yet taking advantage of the benefits of new technologies. But by getting a handle on their data, CIOs can fast track digital transformation and position the enterprise to reap the rewards of innovation.

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