The Report Is In: How Midsized Businesses Are Going Digital
Digital transformation. A full 99% of enterprises are already doing it. But as a midsized firm, you’ve probably wondered what your peers are up to. You’ve been hearing about larger businesses deploying cloud, mobility, big data, advanced analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and the list of what they’re using to perform digital transformation goes on and on.
It can be daunting. Given the size of the technology investments and the expertise required, how can a midsized firm such as yours—with limited IT staff and resources—attempt to transform yourself digitally? It’s been somewhat of a mystery until now what your colleagues at other midsized companies have been doing. Businesses in your tier—those with 11 to 500 employees—simply haven’t been asked.
To remedy this, we commissioned a survey from Spiceworks in which we asked more than 250 IT decision-makers of midsized businesses to reveal their digital transformation activities and plans. The results were intriguing, to say the least.
Our biggest finding: More than half of midsized businesses are either already in the middle of or actively planning their own digital transformations. Does that surprise you? It did us. And we found out more fascinating things about midsized businesses as we delved deeper into their digital strategies.
Let’s start at the beginning
It’s always best to be clear about what you’re talking about. Digital transformation means a lot of different things to different people. So, let’s first define it:
Digital transformation means using digital technologies to create and innovate organizational, operational, and business models that lead to more efficient processes, and easier and more transparent interactions with employees, customers, and suppliers.
Not only have 53% of midsized businesses already started on their digital transformation journeys, another pleasant surprise from the survey was that they are extremely psyched about it all.
A full 77% of midsized businesses were “enthusiastic,” and another 75% were “excited.” “Driven” was also mentioned by a significant majority of the respondents (71%). This kind of positive energy is always good for the eventual success of an IT project.
It wasn’t all rosy, however. Almost half of midsized firms also feel “anxious” (49%). And half of them are worried that they would be “vulnerable” when they had digitized important business processes. We’ve been hearing about the increase in ransomware, attacks on the Internet of Things (IoT), and the continued phishing schemes that are still extraordinarily successful despite all the protections businesses have put in place. No wonder some midsized firms feel safer doing things the traditional way.
IT is critical to digital transformation success in three ways
Although the impetus for digital transformation is to get better business results, IT remains at the center of it at midsized firms. The survey revealed that IT was expected to achieve three things in particular:
- Keep goals in line with what’s realistic: Because business users tend to over-expect what can be delivered—and at what price—IT has to set clear expectations of what is and isn’t possible given the budget allocated.
- Provide technical knowledge and expertise: IT is responsible for maintaining and securing the network, and for guiding the firm toward a plan that is technically viable.
- Integrate new digital technologies with legacy technologies and business processes: IT possesses knowledge about and insight into legacy systems that is required before the firm can think about replacing them or adding capabilities to them.
We’re all in this together
Although IT plays an integral role, other business units—and third-party partners—are invaluable during digital transformation initiatives.
For example, take the importance of involving people from business units, like marketing, finance, and HR. Almost two-thirds (59%) of midsized businesses said that IT worked closely with departments like marketing, sales, and finance in their digital transformation initiatives. After all, business processes from those departments dramatically change as new technologies are deployed. Users can and must have their say in how those all-important process changes are designed and implemented, because they will directly impact their day-to-day jobs.
Second, partners are also necessary. What midsized firms need most: reliable infrastructures to support the evolving “always-on” technology landscape. They require solutions from their third-party vendors and partners that can help them save precious time and money—not to mention the kind of expert and skilled help that vendors can provide to midsized firms with limited staff and expertise. Networking solutions providers need to offer more than a broad range of solutions—they must also offer stellar support and hands-on expertise.
By achieving such partnerships, midsized firms can grow their businesses by achieving internal efficiencies, cutting costs, and growing revenues.