How Channel Partners Can Help Customers Achieve Digital TransformationHow Channel Partners Can Help Customers Achieve Digital Transformation
Change is never easy, but the future is digital and organizations must adapt.
July 6, 2016
By Robert Staples Molina
Your customers are likely focused on upgrading systems to improve the experience for their customers. However, let’s face it, transforming a business while providing uninterrupted service is a big challenge. From a customer perspective, they need to keep the lights on, the bills paid — and drive innovation at the same time.
Enter the channel. Digital transformation has created an immense opportunity for providers able to help customers accomplish their goals and demonstrate value along the way. To capture that business, discover where your customers want to go, spec out what they need to get there, then then help them merge their business capabilities with their business goals.
We typically help our customers navigate the digital transformation by first measuring their current capabilities. Seems basic, but it’s important to have a clear view into their ability to achieve successful business change.
Especially in highly regulated industries, where the need to ensure compliance and mitigate risk is paramount, optimizing capital allocation across change initiatives is also incredibly important.
Since software is the lifeblood of any business today, early on we take stock of a customer’s software assets. This involves putting everything under a microscope to see what’s working, and what isn’t. Are their current applications scalable for more fast-paced, higher-volume environments? Do they pass security and digital muster? Is there a better, less expensive option?
These are questions we answer through analytics and a careful three-step process.
Step 1: Set a Benchmark
Metrics-based analytics provide a clear view into the complexities and business value of application portfolios. Analysis also allows you to see what problems you may run up against and provide clues on how to drive transformation in the smartest way. One example we frequently come across is that companies have application portfolio-management initiatives to keep a running inventory of their software applications, users, and update schedules — but they fail to capture data about the application’s risk of failure, upgrade difficulties, or recommended maintenance efforts.
Getting a true performance baseline will really guide the transformation process and allow you to create a digital road map for your customer. That road map should include goals, deadlines and processes to digitize various parts of a customer’s business according to priority. Measuring against this road map will keep your team on track, and it provides transparency by showing exactly what the client needs and where resources are being allocated.
Step 2: Understand and Communicate Technical Debt
We’ve all seen customers unintentionally accrue significant technical debt. From an application perspective, it may come from building custom software, or debt could refer to the effort needed to fix issues with legacy apps, erroneous code or poor integration.
Some technical debt can have a huge impact on business performance; other times it can be relatively harmless. When you measure technical debt, you’re looking for structural quality issues that will put the organization at risk. Those metrics will also aid in assessing current cost contributors.
Another benefit of measuring technical debt is that it frequently leads to IT and application rationalization — getting rid of services that don’t matter or are duplicating efforts. With an average of 70 percent of IT budgets spent “keeping the lights on,” this can be a very lucrative exercise. By removing obsolete or repetitive applications, you can demonstrate your ability to reduce IT complexity and free up funds to drive innovation, which in my experience almost always brings a smile to clients’ faces.
By identifying problem areas in a code base that will result in increased IT costs, you can also find ways to decrease maintenance costs, heighten productivity, and keep software risk minimal. The Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF) has published global standards for enterprise architecture, and we use these as a best practice when consulting with our customers. The Open Group recently launched a new version of the ArchiMate modeling language to give a standardized description technique for enterprise architects working in an Internet of Things world.
Step 3: Competitive Collaboration
It’s more important than ever to disrupt the status quo and delight customers with fresh technology and tools that provide fact-based metrics. It always helps to rationalize why you, as a trusted adviser, are suggesting a particular strategy. Sometimes this requires a tool that we can’t offer ourselves, so we need to find someone else with that expertise. This may mean going outside of your comfort zone and looking to partner with other technology vendors or resellers. To that end, always be on the lookout for companies that bring a unique specialty to the table and have a presence in markets that are important to you. For example, at BiZZdesign, we have partnered with CAST Highlight, whose expertise is in setting up easy-to-understand baseline portfolio metrics that are crucial to demonstrating value to customers.
In summary, a digital transformation journey is just that — a journey. Digital overhauls don’t happen overnight, and they require considerable planning and execution. But they also give partners an opportunity to make customers’ businesses better and cut the fat. The leanest and most efficient will be the ones to come out on top. If the channel can embrace these steps, it not only results in happy clients, but happy end users too.
Robert M. Staples Molina is the global channel director for BiZZdesign. BiZZdesign provides an advanced platform for planning, tracking and executing business change for over 1000+ customers on six continents.
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