Digital transformation (DX) initiatives are on the top of ever CIOs agenda. CEOs from four technology vendors shared their perspective on challenges and best practices in digital transformation during a panel session moderated by Bob Egan of The Sepharim Group at the most recent ET Exchange Summit. The panelists represented companies that provide solutions for IoT, mobility, application enablement and security. Several best practices shared during the session include:

  • Designing security from the outset to fuel DX growth. Security is a significant inhibitor of many transformation efforts. While securing the enterprise isn’t a new trend, it’s clear that security concerns have grown as companies run outdated software and connect new hardware. For example, 82 percent of the companies Lopez Research interviewed strongly agreed with the statement “security concerns have stalled our IoT deployments.” Eric Simone from Clearblade and Daniel Potts from Cog Systems highlighted the opportunity to minimize future security vulnerabilities by securing IoT hardware, middleware and software at the initial design of the solution. Sapho also noted that companies should evaluate their vendor’s security policies to prevent security breaches that could come from compromised systems at the vendor. Of course, it’s clear that companies should also be reviewing security at every layer of the technology stack from the devices through the application.
  • Modernizing and mobilizing applications and workflows for efficiency and differentiated experiences. PowWow Mobile and Sapho described how digital transformation requires companies to update existing applications and processes. Kia Benhia from PowWow Mobile said application strategies fit into one of four Rs that include retiring, refactoring, rewriting and replacing applications. First, a company should retire apps with limited utilization. Refactoring allows companies to modernize the front end without recoding the entire app. In other cases, delivering the best application experience requires rewriting the application to support new workflows and experiences. Companies should also consider replacing apps with more modern off the shelf solutions such as Software as a Service apps for CRM and finance. The challenge for every organization is to categorize, prioritize and design a plan that spans dozens to hundreds of apps.
  • Defining your DX journey. Fouad ElNagger of Sapho noted that DX means different things to different organizations but classified two broad approaches to transformation. The first class of transformation focuses on how to use technology to drive productivity gains. The second area focuses on how to build a modern enterprise for modern employees. Examples of the second type of transformation experience could include scheduling conference rooms with iPads, digital signage, improved collaboration and new customer-facing experiences. Both strategies allow a company to improve its bottom line. In fact, significant numbers are at stake even when focusing on productivity gains. For example, EINagger noted that a half a percentage increase in productivity could be worth as much as $800 million to Conoco Philips’ business.
  • Building bridges to the past. Successful DX strategies recognize that you can’t rip and replace all of the underlying systems that run the business. Modernizing applications and services requires a company to build new systems that can connect with legacy protocols and systems of record. Companies need tools such as APIs, Mobile Backend as a Service and specialized middleware platforms. DX has to incorporate standardization and integration of legacy systems. Cog Systems also noted that it’s important to lean toward automation to improve the user experience.
  • Rethinking the boundaries. Everyone agreed that successful companies must embrace change and define a broader vision of what the company than what it is today. The panel shared examples of how Ford Motor Company views itself as in the transportation business versus solely and automotive manufactured. Meanwhile, Dominos Pizza views itself as an IT company instead of simply a food purveyor.
  • Garnering executive support. Successful transformation requires change agents and evangelists at all levels of the organization. However, DX effort won’t be gain traction until the executive team commits to new projects, increasing the firm’s risk tolerance and ensuring there’s appropriate funding for transformation projects.

One thing is certain. To thrive in such a dynamic landscape, a company must have a strong digital discipline regardless of the industry they’re in.

 

This article was originally posted on Forbes.com