Building the dream castle with a digital transformation strategy
There are parts of every business that are princely, and some that are beastly, but to turn a traditional business that operates on the hop (like a frog, pre-princess kiss) into a prince charming, requires a strategy to navigate the complexities that modern IT services now present.
What does success look like for businesses today? In a fast-paced climate, there are now four key imperatives for businesses who want to remain competitive: improving customer engagement, empowering their employees; transforming the products and services they offer using digital content, and optimising business operations. The more whimsically minded might consider these the equivalent of inviting guests to the ball, inspiring the lost boys, adding a touch of magic, and fitting the magic slipper.
Making a crystal ball
The key to achieving these four goals is a digital transformation strategy, and harnessing new cloud-based services can help fast track the delivery of this. Consider this strategy the fairy godmother of the organisation’s plans. For example, companies can empower and enchant employees by using cloud-based tools that make it easier for teams to collaborate, communicate and provide access to a wealth of information previously siloed in different systems across the organisation. In addition, optimising business operations depends on knowing what’s happening in the business now – and what’s likely to happen in the future – the equivalent of a crystal ball.
Adding some Fantasia
Today’s organisations will be benefitted by deeper insight into their business processes, which comes through intelligent reporting and analytics, which can be accessed through cloud services like Cobweb Complete for Office 365. It can provide regular reporting on employees’ productivity, if required, enabling a business to bolster productivity and create a more efficient working environment. In fact, according to the Cloud Industry Forum, 80% of UK businesses that have implemented, or are planning on implementing a digital transformation strategy, say that cloud is important to their strategy, and 38%say that cloud has given their organisations a significant competitive advantage.
A Merlin-like mentor will help
Growing a business is a full-time occupation, and in-house IT resources are usually stretched to capacity. As a result, it’s often difficult to devote the necessary time and effort into deploying and managing new cloud services. Adopting cloud solutions via a managed service provider takes the pressure away from the IT team (if a small business has a team!) and puts everything into the hands of a cloud service specialist. By outsourcing the critical day-to-day support and maintenance of the IT estate to an expert that understands their needs, the business is free to focus on growing, while taking the maximum value from their investment in IT. Even young Arthur needed a Merlin to help him become king, after all.
This is especially helpful for small companies or start-ups; instead of time spent managing software installations, updating old versions of software and overseeing upgrades, employees are free to focus on core business activities such as delighting customers and generating new revenue.
A 2016 report from the Cloud Industry Forum shows that after migrating part of their software estate to the cloud, more than half of UK IT teams (55%) were able to be redeployed to other activities, while a further third (34%) saw their maintenance workload reduce dramatically, paving the way for them to engage in more strategic work to the business. The biggest attraction associated with choosing a managed service for finance or IT directors are the financial benefits associated with increased employee productivity and greater predictability of costs. With simple monthly subscription pricing, organisations can avoid large upfront costs for new software and servers, and move the cost of IT from a capital to an operating expense. By offering a predictable monthly subscription plan, organisations know exactly how much they are spending each month and can plan their budgets accordingly.
Waving the magic wand
There are a number of different managed service options out there, but those from IT partners that wrap around Microsoft Office 365 are usually the most popular option for growing businesses, looking to take advantage of competitive prices and innovative software. Such services that allow organisations to get more out of the applications that they are already familiar with provide an instant boost and cut out training and familiarisation time. It’s the difference between using the mice and pumpkin or the magic carriage to get to the ball – by getting the most out of an asset’s potential.
Most small businesses remain entirely unaware that Microsoft Office 365 provides a suite of tools to help save them time that they can spend on the business and customers – whether that’s making it easier to manage files and data, simplifying communication and collaboration among employees, or managing meetings on the move. Office 365 combines staples like Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Word, Excel and PowerPoint with the next generation of productivity-based services such as Skype for Business Online that bolsters collaboration and communication both within and across organisations.
Falling in love again
And much like Beauty, seeing ‘something that wasn’t there before’, managed services that integrate into the fabric of a growing businesses offer the chance to get the very most out of the cloud services that they are already paying for but generally not utilising, improving both efficiency and productivity. Another vital benefit for businesses whose employees often work from home, or require IT assistance around the clock, is 24*7 support services, to ensure that not a moment is wasted in fixing a problem. Furthermore, active monitoring and proactive support helps to protect a company’s users and content, also reducing overhead and operating expenses.
You can’t always ‘laugh in the face of danger’, and protecting identity and content are also key aspects of the service. Industry leading antivirus and antispam technologies provide an additional layer of email security, preventing unwanted messages and protecting against damaging and costly cyber-attack. Advanced monitoring, management, compliance, alerting and auditing features are the foundation to the proactive reporting and support element of the managed services package, incorporating pro-active warnings for potential security threats or compromised accounts.
In today’s technological workplace, which is evolving at an incredible speed (like Sleeping Beauty’s castle coming back to life), getting the right support is key. The journey to digital transformation is an important step for businesses looking to take advantage of technological advances to improve business efficiency, the and service ‘wrappers’ that help deliver the powerful software to help progress this journey is now available from the IT partner community. It’s worth finding the right partner to jump on the magic carpet with, as the ride will be a whole new world…
By Michael Frisby, managing director of Cobweb Solutions