Is Mobile the Answer to Failed Digital Transformations?

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Driving digital transformation means more than throwing more technology at a given problem. Mobile access may be the first step in breaking the loop of rushed projects and subsequent downtime.

While startups and other small businesses can exploit their agility to adopt new technologies to create and drive digital tranformations, larger enterprises struggle to cut through bureaucratic sluggishness and technical overhead, and are often playing a losing battle of catch-up.

Given that contemporary business process management (BPO) tools require a high degree of digital capability, it seems many of these companies are stuck in a kind of digital transformation feedback loop. It’s almost impossible to innovate without technology, but poorly functioning technology is often the barrier to innovation.

Two recent studies, from Dynatrace and IFS, provide further evidence that these slower-moving enterprises need to engage differently with their IT teams to avoid failed digital transformation. Instead of simply throwing more technology at a given problem, they need to give their people the right amount of time to research, develop, and test new solutions, and then ensure those solutions are accessible to as many team members as possible.

What caused failed digital transformations?

In a study involving more than 1,239 global IT and business professionals, Dynatrace found that organizations are encountering digital problems that leave a noticeable impact on users, revenue, or customers once every five days. Across many different positions and processes, employees are also losing out on a full quarter of their working hours trying to fix or work around these issues.

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IT operations professionals lose two hours every day to these issues, for a total of 522 hours per year, and marketing employees lose 470 hours per year. Even worse off are software developers, who lost a total of 548 hours per year. These respondents most frequently pointed to the fact that their technology environments are growing steadily more complex as the primary driver for these large losses in time.

If given back this wasted time, 32 percent of the IT operations professionals said they would spend more time researching and deploying new technologies. Software developers would also aim to spend more time on researching and developing new technologies. In other words, technical professionals are eager to break the feedback loop between rushing the development of new technologies and struggling with downtime after deployment, but 75 percent of respondents had low confidence in their organizations’ ability to solve these problems.

“While today’s technology is extremely powerful, the result is a hyperscale, hypercomplex corporate IT environment, which can create a very real barrier to succeeding at digital performance.” John Van Siclen, CEO at Dynatrace, said. “If you don’t master this complexity challenge, at the end of the day your customers, employees and bottom line will suffer.”

Bringing mobility into the equation

Improving mobile accessibility could be a key method of improving the technology availability, or at least giving key employees better tools to fix or create new solutions to commonplace hiccups that waste their time. That’s the result from another recent study from IFS, which covered the impact that mobility for enterprise software has when achieving digital transformation.

[ Related: Best Practices for Mobile App Infrastructure: APIs, Microservices and More ]

Respondents who said the technological platforms available at their organization prepared them well for digital transformation were twice as likely to access these platforms on mobile devices compared to those who felt ill-prepared for digital transformation. In other words, the more employees can access technological platforms via mobile devices, the more comfortable they feel with digital transformation efforts. There isn’t enough data to claim a correlation, but the relationship is certainly interesting.

The IFS report posits several reasons why these two efforts are connected. Naturally, mobile access to enterprise software can help key stakeholders make quicker decisions and react faster to rapidly-changing business environments. In addition, mobility allows employees to input new information into the platform wherever they might be, reducing the lag between when an action occurs and when it appears in the system, and gives decision-makers more opportunities to engage with this incoming data.

Digital transformations will struggle without mobile access

“Mobile is the most obvious manifestation of digital transformation. It is not the only one or, for that matter, the most important one. But when people use enterprise software from a mobile device, it indicates that the system is the lifeblood of the business,” said IFS Chief Technology Officer in North America Rick Veague. “Your employees can connect into those core processes and participate even if they are not sitting at their desk. If you cannot do this, you will struggle with anything in digital transformation.”

With all of this in mind, mobility ought to be primary concern for businesses that are aiming for some degree of digital transformation via new technological platforms. More of these companies just might realize that increased mobile access may be the first step in breaking the feedback loop of rushed projects and subsequent downtime. Employees could not only become more efficient, but also steal back some of those wasted hours — a lesser frustration for them, and a meaningful change to the business’ bottom line.

Joel Hans

About Joel Hans

Joel Hans is the former managing editor of Manufacturing.net. He earned his master's degree from the University of Arizona, and currently lives and writes in Tucson.

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