The growing strategic role of Technology professionals in an organisation
A key topic up for discussion now is the process of moving from outdated technology infrastructure systems to the cloud. For IT professionals, migrating to the cloud provides an opportunity to partner with the executive and leadership teams to be strategic and look beyond the technical infrastructure aspects of IT to broader transformational benefits. One of the biggest benefits of moving to the cloud is the financial savings it affords organisations.
Joval Wine Group, for example, reduced its infrastructure costs by 50 per cent when it moved from on-premise data storage to the cloud. These savings, partly funded by reduced operational overheads across the team, allowed the business’s IT team to focus on digital and business improvement and transformation. As a result, Joval Wine Group’s IT professionals have become more constructive drivers of broader change in the organisation.
The challenges of moving from legacy systems to the cloud
Beyond embedding the technical capabilities of cloud transformation, people management and change management are typically the biggest challenges for organisations in digital transformation projects.
Highlighting the importance of addressing these challenges quickly throughout a project, the panel of speakers outlined a few key factors to address these challenges, including:
- ensuring the project has executive sponsors from across the business
- establishing a steering committee to engage stakeholders effectively and address roadblocks
- identifying key business users and system champions to provide feedback throughout the project.
Each of these factors are focused on involving the whole business in digital transformation projects, ensuring involvement from key stakeholders at all stages. This facilitates a culture of collaborative change, which also helps organisations to realise greater strategic benefits beyond the initial transformation project.
Cloud solutions require constant optimising. For example, Joval Wine Group reviews its infrastructure spend each month to determine where expenditure can be reduced. This process put the business in a good position to strategically evaluate costs at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. When the pandemic hit, the business’s revenue reduced significantly so leaders across the business needed to look at where spending could be reduced. With the flexibility offered by cloud storage, the business reduced its infrastructure spend by 30 percent within days of the pandemic hitting Australia, with the option to scale up again in line with organisational needs and reduction in market risks.
Project management fundamentals in digital transformation
Effective project management is critical to successful digital transformation. The panel acknowledged the importance of using the right project management methodology for the type of digital transformation project. For example, projects that involve decommissioning an on-premise data centre and moving to the cloud, have well-defined, sequential tasks with clear outcomes, making the waterfall methodology a logical choice. In contrast, projects with more uncertainty and the need to pivot quickly need an agile approach. These projects may include testing whether certain technologies have a strong use case in an organisation.
Joval Wine Group, for example, used the agile methodology when the business was analysing whether its sales forecasting process could be improved through artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. This project required testing and iterating over numerous stages which didn’t necessarily move forward in a defined linear manner. Having the ability to be dynamic throughout this project allowed the business to decide quickly whether to move forward with integrating AI and machine learning into the sales forecasting long term.
Throughout project delivery, third-party providers can be required to assist with the project. Costing this support can be more difficult for agile projects. The panel identified purchasing “buckets” of hours for projects where milestones and deliverables aren’t defined as an effective solution.
Looking ahead: key considerations for digital transformation to drive business improvement
Moving ahead, future considerations for IT teams should ensure a focus on cloud storage and digital transformation. These considerations could include;
- continuing to deliver digital solutions across the business for internal stakeholders and customers
- addressing cyber security risks and staying updated on the legalities of data sovereignty in cloud storage.
- making digital transformation a core part of strategic business improvements through executive support and acknowledgement of IT’s role in setting and driving the transformation.