Digital transformation is a top priority for organizations. As noted by Forbes, 88 percent of companies were on the road to digital-first environments back in 2014 — but the journey hasn’t been smooth. In fact, a recent study found that just over 20 percent of organizations are leveraging big data well enough to get ahead of the competition.

So, what’s the disconnect? Data from research firm McKinsey offers some insight: Only 12 percent of corporate respondents said their IT teams were effective at leading digital transformations. Since IT support, training and oversight are critical for ongoing success, it’s no surprise that expectations don’t match reality.

With digital transformations now among the top four list of critical activities for IT’s future value proposition, it begs the question: How do CIOs drive evolved IT to support digital environments and exceed expectations?

The IT Imperative

According to Tech Target, companies on the path to digital transition must create “21st century architecture” by focusing on the key value of big data while simultaneously combining physical and virtual data through the use of IoT devices.

Put simply, this is the changing nature of IT’s value proposition: Support and security must now align with line-of-business objectives to produce ongoing value. Ideally, IT is now part of the strategy and development phase; the McKinsey survey found that 80 percent of respondents favor business/technology collaboration on digital strategy. For CIOs, this means finding a way to bridge the gap between existing IT limitations and the long-term value of digital transition.

Key Challenges

It’s one thing to recognize the need for digital efforts that bridge the gap between legacy and emerging technologies, address emerging security concerns and recruit top IT talent — it’s another for CIOs to manage this in the field. As noted by the Forbes article, companies face “challenges inherent to large-scale data management, governance and access” in the shift to digital environments.

For many CIOs, three key concerns emerge around any discussion of digital transition:

  • Employee Productivity —Innovation is the road to a digital future, but the obtuse nature of many legacy systems makes is virtually impossible for CIOs to assess current IT environments and user experience issues. The result? What starts as seemingly ideal solutions can lead to staff disruptions, downtime or even data loss. The solution? End-user monitoring tools capable of providing real-time data on end-user issues.
  • IT Costs — The longer a support ticket exists, the more expensive it becomes. This is especially true if tickets are escalated to L2 or L3 responders, which cost far more than L1 or self-serve solutions. Any digital transformation initiative must have a plan in place to significantly reduce (and where possible, eliminate) support tickets. Managing costs means implementing cloud-based solutions capable of providing front-line support for emerging IT issues — if problems are automatically addressed or users are given the tools they need before tickets are created, total spend goes down.
  • Brand Reputation — Companies can’t ignore security in favor of speed. If hackers gain access to corporate networks, the resulting fallout could mean lost customers, external audits and potentially steep fines. Here, complete visibility is key: Which systems are at risk? Under what circumstances? Identifying critical vulnerabilities lets IT create network-wide rules and permissions to enhance their risk and compliance strategy.

Bottom line? Transformation doesn’t happen in a day, but digital-first environments remain a top priority. To achieve this goal, CIOs must adopt a new perspective and enhance the value of IT with tools that provide end-user visibility, cut support costs and help secure brand reputation.