The Challenges of Digital Transformation
by Alex Teteris - Zscaler's Principal Technology Evangelist
As organisations look at digital transformation, they are faced with a technology landscape that is constantly evolving and driving change across the enterprise. The pillars upon which business IT systems were built 30 years ago no longer exist, and organisations are now pushing IT to change, not the other way around.
Despite IT teams doing their best to keep up with these changes, technology is simply moving too quickly. Previously, IT teams were the primary go-to experts; they dictated what strategies and applications businesses needed to be using, and tools or platforms were bought as a result. However, most people are now proficient in the use of technology and are much more IT savvy than they used to be. Technology has shifted from an IT issue to a boardroom issue as the C-suite looks at ways to improve efficiency and save costs through the use of technology. IT teams that try to hold onto the control they alone once had are starting to be regarded as a hindrance to getting things done fast, efficiently, and cost-effectively.
For IT teams to survive this paradigm shift, they need to stop appearing as a gatekeeper to digitalisation and transformation; the business’s outlook must be reset. IT departments must be perceived as enablers and trusted partners to help deliver greater business performance. To succeed, they have to address some challenges.
IT must stop being its own worst enemy
Culture has been a big problem in IT departments. From the bottom up, IT teams are typically resistant to change. They tend to view new technology trends such as SaaS and the cloud as a threat rather than an opportunity, often because they believe their current skillset will no longer be needed. Individuals may have spent years training for their Cisco certifications (CCIEs) or those from other technology vendors, but for IT teams it’s no longer about inputting commands; all that’s required is the use of an effective web portal.
To overcome these concerns, re-training and buy-in from the staff is needed. It’s important for IT team members to understand that they can continue to provide value to the business, albeit in a slightly different way than they did five or 10 years ago.
Giving up control
The IT team’s job is no longer about configuring boxes. It’s about giving control to teams that can make better use of technology advancements, such as the cloud. The other side of this release of control is a significant shift in security teams’ attitudes. They must accept that, whilst in the past they were always the people to deny access and to inspect elements of the business network, the new focus is on how to accept, manage, and mitigate risk, especially when it relates to business enablers and gaining a competitive edge. They must trust their contracts and other teams to ensure that they are compliant according to GDPR and other company regulations.
Not knowing where to start
Currently, with the speed of technology changes and the volume of concurrent projects that IT executives have on their tables, stress levels and workloads are high. When times get hard it can be difficult to prioritise which tasks and initiatives to work on or deploy. It has become necessary for IT teams to pick and choose their battles when it comes to allocating resources. By working with a company that offers a cloud-based approach to security-as-a-service, such as Zscaler, it takes the pressure off the team by relieving some of their heavy workload.
Budgeting and finance
Trying to justify extra spend on a new service can be difficult, particularly when the current model is still costing money. To get past this, businesses should gradually build up to it: start small but think big—a three- or four-year plan is a good scale for your IT transformation.
At Zscaler, we can help IT teams plan a strategic roadmap around some of the major business complaints, often associated with legacy architecture. The speed to deploy and improve performance with the cloud, SaaS, and business applications must be put at the forefront of these plans. They can ultimately offer high flexibility and adaptability to business needs in terms of mergers, divestitures, new sites, and the removal of old virtual private networks (VPNs), enabling businesses to experience the very real benefits of digital transformation.