A strong digital transformation strategy can result in a range of benefits for businesses and organizations. Digital transformation can improve speed and throughput and enhance product or service quality. It can also enable a company to capture data from new sources and use it to produce deeper insights into its operations and enhance customer experiences.
Shash Anand, VP of Product Strategy at SOTI, points out that many organizations experienced firsthand how a digital operation can enable business continuity. Now, as they are now returning to on-site or hybrid work, the need for defining, executing, and upleveling a business’ digital transformation strategy has never been more important. However, the way a company approaches digital transformation can lead to unintended consequences that can detract from its benefits.
Anand answers several pivotal questions for ISVs and software companies about supporting digital transformation strategies that are most practical, cost-effective and sustainable.
Software companies and ISVs are working hard to provide solutions that help their clients advance their digital transformation strategies so they can operate more efficiently. But does digital transformation lead to less efficiency in some cases?
Anand: While digital transformation has become a global trend, it can also work against efficiency goals. This is veering IT decision-makers away from device preservation and towards premature replacement or discarding. In other words, IT leaders are still chasing shiny new objects vs. reviewing the need to replace a device.
When it comes to rapid digital transformation, the problem becomes consumer culture. In an effort to make the workplace appear more attractive to top talent, for example, 68.9 percent of leaders are prematurely discarding devices that are in good working condition. Changing the way organizations and IT decision-makers approach technology will be key in enabling more effective and sustainable digital transformation strategies as well as long-term investments in technology.
First, digital transformation comes in many forms. Some define this as a process of going from paper and pen to Word documents and spreadsheets, while other companies are actually building mobile applications that serve a mission-critical purpose, helping the operations of a company. If digital transformation is not done properly with device management in mind, this can easily lead to additional burdens on IT staff who now must manage the data residing on a mobile device, tablet or laptop. Copying and pasting data between different systems can also be cumbersome, on top of the concerns around security and privacy. Hence, fewer efficiencies are natural if a digital transformation strategy is not used in conjunction with enterprise mobility management that can track, monitor, support, secure, locate and upgrade the device’s applications, firmware and data.
Second, fewer efficiencies are inevitable without a diagnostic intelligence solution to help organizations understand their operations. If issues do come up, such as a problem with an app, companies need to troubleshoot devices in real-time. When devices are not working, slow, or perform poorly, it’s perceived to be an outdated device that needs to be physically replaced by one with more memory, a higher CPU, or a higher resolution camera. But the reality is, these are not the main issues, and without visibility, you can’t know for sure.
Do you think software developers give enough thought to the financial downside of prematurely replacing devices?
Anand: Many software developers design their applications to work on the latest and greatest hardware and operating system available at the time. There’s little consideration for going further back on older devices or older OS versions because of potential security holes, incompatibility with different libraries and integration with other systems. The testing time for various combinations to ensure apps work on different software and hardware grows exponentially.
That said, enterprises are wasting money by disposing of electronic devices prematurely and failing to run proper diagnosis and repair solutions. In fact, 45 percent of IT decision-makers dispose of “older, “perfectly capable devices in good working condition simply because a newer model is available. Additionally, without an enterprise mobility management (EMM) strategy to manage devices and battery life, companies miss out on reducing the need for constant hardware replacements, saving capital – especially during turbulent economic times – and improving the environmental impact in the process.
Switching or upgrading devices unnecessarily is costly. Take the number of devices, multiply by the cost per device, and that total can be very expensive for an IT leader. But what many businesses fail to account for is the downtime to switch from old to new devices, as well as the hours spent collecting, data dumping and wiping devices. Another consideration is training workers to understand and learn how to use a new device in the field efficiently. This impacts the budget and valuable time workers could be spending performing their jobs.
Is prematurely replacing devices working against sustainability initiatives?
Anand: The impact frequent e-waste is having on our environment is a major concern. For starters, many components in discarded devices are toxic and not easily biodegradable, if at all. For instance, computer monitors normally contain hazardous materials such as lead, mercury and cadmium, while circuit boards typically hold nickel, beryllium and zinc. When we dispose of gadgets and devices improperly, these hazardous materials have a high risk of polluting the air, contaminating soil and getting into our water sources. To avoid polluting the planet with these substances, recycling or proper disposal of e-waste and cutting back on the frequency of replacing devices are vital for both enterprises and the environment.
Without practicing and raising awareness of green IT, we ignore the seriousness of climate change and the need to reevaluate the disposal of electronic materials that contribute to a circular and regenerative economy. The goals of green IT are similar to other environmental objectives – reduce the use of hazardous materials, maximize energy efficiency during the lifecycle of a mobile device, and understand the recyclability or biodegradability of products and the waste they create.
Furthermore, when it comes to corporate sustainability efforts, many businesses and developers believe practicing green IT can mean a high cost, but reducing e-waste can actually save companies money.
What competitive edge or market differentiation can software companies gain by supporting a digital transformation strategy that minimizes device replacement?
Anand: A major competitive advantage is ensuring a company’s most sensitive and private data is secure. While tossed devices are probably powered off, they may not be fully disconnected from the network. This poses a major security risk for businesses as they become vulnerable and susceptible to data breaches and loss of critical information. In fact, nearly 7 in 10 U.S. IT leaders are disposing of devices prematurely, and some may not be protecting device endpoints. Some users have devices that contain both corporate and personal data and hence if not disposed of properly, could open multiple attack vectors. Doing a bulk removal opens up the chance for errors as often the task of manually cleaning up devices could lead to human error.
For more information on the advantages of changing your mindset from discarding current devices to tech sustainability, read SOTI’s report “Reduce, Reuse, Rethink.”