Successful Digital Transformation Requires Swift, but Informed Action

Written by

For centuries, businesses have searched for new customers and new revenue streams, while identifying ways to reduce costs.

While those concepts have proven timeless – and are not going out of style anytime soon – digital transformation is overhauling how enterprises are going about meeting those objectives.

ISACA’s new research on digital transformation provides a reality check on which emerging technologies are offering the most transformational value to organizations, with Big Data, artificial intelligence/machine learning, and public cloud resonating most deeply with global respondents.

Other technologies such as Internet of Things (IoT) devices, blockchain and augmented reality/virtual reality also are serious considerations for many enterprises that are seeking to leverage technology in new ways.

There is no doubt that enterprises should closely look at these and other technologies as they evaluate how to best connect with customers, but successful digital transformation comes about only when organizations are mindful of the risk and security considerations well before deploying new technologies.

Pilot testing is a critical piece of getting digital transformation right. When pilot testing emerging technologies, be sure to involve the organization’s cybersecurity and risk teams. Without such pilot testing, it becomes difficult to gather a true sense of the risks associated with a given technology, opening the door to the types of privacy and security vulnerabilities that erode consumer trust and become costly to address once products have been deployed. 

It’s true that piloting technologies can slow down speed to market, but organizations should not necessarily be consumed with being first. While there are some obvious pluses for first movers in deploying new technologies – including the possibility of attracting new and potentially sticky customers – being a fast follower carries its own advantages, most notably the ability to learn from competitors’ mistakes and determine a more effective way to implement the technology. 

Being a slow follower, however, is typically a recipe for failure, which means enterprises should frequently evaluate available technologies and move swiftly to vet available opportunities. The organization’s chief technology officer (CTO) can play an important role in prompting those conversations and making sure all pertinent groups within the enterprise are engaged in the dialogue.

ISACA’s research reveals another important digital transformation challenge. Only a little more than half of respondents (53%) express confidence that their organization’s leadership is digitally literate, with the remaining respondents closely split between indicating their organization’s leaders do not have a solid understanding of technology’s risks and benefits, or being unsure.

While enterprise leaders will naturally become more digitally literate over time – as more and more digital natives ascend to leadership roles – in the meantime, organizational leaders must regularly be briefed, in business terms, of the benefits and risks of new technologies, bearing in mind that the risk of deploying emerging technologies is usually lower than the risk of falling behind competitively when failing to do so. 

While a shortage of digitally fluent leaders can impede digital transformation, I have often found CEOs and other C-suite leaders to be enthusiastic about exploring how new technologies can invigorate the enterprise. ISACA’s research reinforces that conclusion; nearly three in four respondents say their senior leadership teams are moderately or very receptive to adopting emerging technologies. 

Sometimes, the stumbling block, quite simply, is resistance to change at the operational level; for example, think of ‘server-huggers’ who are reluctant to move toward cloud solutions because the transition would deviate too far from their knowledge base and comfort zone.

In today’s fast-moving technology landscape, technology practitioners cannot afford to take that approach. The most successful security, risk and governance professionals will take pride in educating themselves, and others in their organizations, on advancements in technology that could lead to opportunities for new customers and new revenue streams.

Technology-driven transformation is a must for organizations that expect to thrive in today’s digital economy. Something so vital to an enterprise’s long-term viability deserves the organization-wide collaboration, from start to finish, that is necessary to make digital transformation a success.

This is part of a series of blogs written exclusively for Infosecurity by ISACA

What’s hot on Infosecurity Magazine?