The only constant is change. While this observation has its roots in ancient Greece, few modern-day business leaders would readily dispute its accuracy today. If anything, the pace of change keeps on increasing and organizations are finding it challenging to keep up with it.
This being the case, perhaps the most important ability that characterizes a successful modern business is the ability to continuously improve its operations and adapt to the changes in the market.
Digital Transformation is not an event, it’s an ever-evolving process
Adaptation and improvement are hardly possible without a mindset that perceives them as a continuous priority. This applies to all organizations across the spectrum, and perhaps the most prominent change that most companies are currently going through is transforming their business to align with the requirements of digital business.
While the term “digital transformation” will undoubtedly disappear from the vocabulary of business leaders at some point, we will never get to a point where we are done with change. Digital transformation does have its distinct characteristics but is nevertheless part of the continuous evolution of business that has always been there. However, what is different with digital transformation is the speed at which change is happening.
Change happens in both leaps and increments
The reasoning “that’s how we’ve always done it” has never been a good one, but with the diversity, reach and speed that digital technologies have introduced into the competitive landscape of most companies it has become downright dangerous. However, this does not mean that we shouldn’t respect and leverage what we have, it simply means that we should continuously strive to test our assumptions and try to make what we have better.
Improvement can, and should, happen through both major paradigm shifts and small changes. True innovation calls for thinking that radically challenges the status quo, but focusing on this aspect alone can lead to paralysis and stagnation instead of the desired outcomes.
Alongside transformative innovation, incremental improvement of services, products and processes is more likely to deliver results at a steady pace and is, therefore, a core principle in concepts and models aimed at delivering continuous improvement. This can be embedded in a specific methodology such as Lean, TPS, Kaizen, Kanban, or Six Sigma, but it can also be achieved through a more organic approach.
You can’t improve things you can’t measure
Managing change requires companies to know where they were before and where they are now. Only by determining the direction and magnitude of change based on valid and reliable data can companies harness it for continuous improvement in a systematic way.
And companies know this. For example, data analytics are a major focus area for companies across industries. A recent survey found that 92% of executives believe that further investments in Big Data and AI are required to transform their business into an agile and competitive one, with 77% saying that the adoption of these initiatives remains a major challenge for them.
The good news is that companies now have more data available to understand their performance than ever before. The bad news is that the data is often siloed across a disparate landscape of systems in the company’s own data centers, cloud platforms, partners and other external sources.
Please mind the (integration) gap
Breaking down those data siloes and tapping into the available data, not only to measure improvement over time but also to uncover new insights to fuel innovation, can prove challenging. Often the reason behind this is lack of hybrid integration capabilities needed for bridging the gap between applications and data residing within on-premises data centers and those hosted on modern cloud infrastructures.
According to a survey by Vanson Bourne, 80% of IT decision makers believe that not modernizing IT systems will negatively impact the long-term growth of their organization. They also believed that getting rid of legacy systems would help reduce their business operational cost by 13% and saw a potential boost in annual revenue by over 14%.
Motivational factors being quite clear, many enterprises have embarked on the journey to the cloud. However, the majority of companies still has large parts of their business relying on legacy technology. This will continue to be the case for quite some time, so the resulting integration challenges need to be solved in a flexible way that supports the transition. If this is not taken care of, the goal of maintaining continuous improvement becomes hard, if not downright impossible, to achieve.
Getting unstuck from legacy integration technologies
Building the required integration capabilities includes not only technology that can adjust to both the current and future needs of the organization, but also people with the right skills, and processes that appropriately address challenges around efficiency, governance, risk management and compliance.
All of these areas are usually something that the organization needs to rethink, since the existing enterprise integration capabilities are typically based on the aging ESB technologies that were made for the world where clouds were still just the white things in the sky that ruined your day on the beach. The ESBs won’t get you where you want to go, but ripping out these technologies and replacing them with modern tools is not a simple job. Besides requiring a large amount of investment and new skills, it also presents a significant risk to business continuity.
Therefore, the challenge with integration is one of the biggest hurdles for continuous improvement of business operations across the enterprise. One approach for tackling this challenge in the benefit of our customers is through the Embrace & Replace Program that OpenText has developed to help organizations better manage the risks and costs involved. The concept includes transitioning the existing integrations from the legacy platforms currently being used onto a modern cloud-based hybrid integration platform as part of a program that OpenText manages from start to finish.
No matter what approach they choose in taking on this challenge, enterprises looking to keep on improving their performance and survive in the digital world can rely on one thing – the day will come when they need to bite the bullet with integration modernization.
If you’re interested in finding out more about OpenText’s Embrace and Replace program, click here.