IT Tips & Tricks
Published 1 March 2022
Digital Transformation: No Man (or Department) Is an Island
Mention digital transformation and most people think of a streamlined organization that is most likely cloud-based, allowing for a global team to connect and interact in real time. And for the most part, they’d be right. But what if that beautifully streamlined system, with easy workflows, where everything is cleverly integrated and all works together like a well-oiled machine, is not how Bob’s morning is going?
“Bob, why don’t I have those first quarter projections in my inbox this morning? Didn’t I ask you about this yesterday?”
“Yes, sir, you did, sir. It’s just that, well, you see …”
“What? It’s just that what?”
“It’s Lidia, sir. In Accounts. She’s a little outdated.”
“You mean we don’t have the projections?”
“No, sir, I’m sure we do. It’s just that our system is really old. I’ll ask Lidia to print out the projections and bring them to you.”
“What do you mean, ‘really old’? Why can’t she just email me?”
“Sir, I believe Accounts still runs on a pre-1990 version of Excel.”
“And I’m not sure that Lidia even has an email account.”
As his new boss practically dissolves into a shuddering heap of “So help me God,” Bob is clattering down the stairwell to Accounts, three floors down, where Lidia has been tending the books since she started working at the company, fresh out of college, some thirty-five years ago.
The previous finance VP accepted that Accounts does things a certain way and has done so since dinosaurs roamed the earth — although no one in their right mind would consider calling Lidia a dinosaur (at least not to her face). But the young, new VP is clearly not familiar with the vagaries of a company that still relies on outdated technology.
What if that beautifully streamlined system, with easy workflows, where everything is cleverly integrated and all works together like a well-oiled machine, is not how Bob’s morning is going?
With his own thoughts echoing loudly in the stairwell, Bob realizes that the exact problem he’s dealing with right now is occurring elsewhere in the company too. The guys down on the shop floor have their own system they use. The designers and engineers are all using the latest versions of the CAD software that they prefer. Much like Accounts, Human Resources is also using some antiquated system, and nothing seems to mesh between the various departments. It’s all separate and disparate. Before he hits the door to Accounts, Bob is slightly surprised to find himself mentally singing, Dolly Parton’s “Islands in the stream, that is what we are …” But guess what? Bob is right on the money.
Islands in the Stream
Bob, the office manager, is not the only one taking strain. Anita in HR has been begging for a better system since she took over three years ago. Harry, the shop manager (who has been around almost as long as Lidia), was trained by Edward, who had run the shop since the 1970s and finally retired just before his eightieth birthday. Unfortunately, this means that Harry is still pretty much stuck in a seventies mindset when it comes to running the shop. The only guys that seem to be up to date are the designers and engineers, which is lucky, since everyone’s paycheck pretty much hinges on them.
If each department has grown and developed independently from the rest of the organization, where’s the cohesion, the data-sharing and the collaboration?
This may sound somewhat comedic to you, but it’s not an altogether uncommon scenario, particularly in companies that have been around for decades. The problem isn’t always a lack of digitalization. It’s just that the various departments have digitalized in their own way at some point, and now each department speaks its own “language” which is often unfamiliar to the other departments.
The designers and engineers are speaking CAD. The machine shop speaks a language dating back to the seventies. Accounts speaks a language from the late eighties and HR has a language of its own, cobbled together from the various antiquated systems they use. Quality Control and a couple of other departments still rely completely on paper and have never digitalized at all. All this disparity makes it virtually impossible for the company to have consistently smooth internal dialog. Each department has become its own island and inter-departmental communication is akin to paper airplanes bearing messages being tossed around a classroom by fifth graders. Professional? No? Efficient? No? The solution? Digital transformation.
The reality is that digital transformation is not that difficult for employees to accept. Most people are more than willing to embrace change if it promises to simplify things at the office and increase efficiency, which is often perceived as a lightening of the workload. It recently struck us that an entire generation has grown up — writing things, producing documents, brochures, price lists and so forth — without ever laying a finger on a typewriter. All they know is a keyboard and word processor.
We’ve lived in a digital age for decades already. It’s not new and therefore should not be frightening, even to the antediluvians who started their careers with typewriters and electric calculators. Even they have smartphones these days, and personal email accounts. They probably even pay their bills online, as most of us do. So, adapting to a new system at work shouldn’t be an insurmountable challenge.
Without a digital transformation, the various departments continue to evolve separately and have difficulty communicating with one another. Not only is the data in different formats, but it may also even be stored on different media. Does anyone still have drives to read floppy disks, tapes or CDs?
Imagine the relief to be found in a system where digital data can flow seamlessly, with no friction, in all directions. Imagine a global staff being able to access whatever they need, when they need it, without delay. Imagine Bob, no longer frustratedly muttering to himself in the mensroom mirror, “No man is an island.”
Each department has become its own island and inter-departmental communication is akin to paper airplanes bearing messages being tossed around a classroom by fifth graders.
An organization where data flows freely — without human intervention — is truly digitally transformed. Bob would not have to fly down three flights of stairs to beg Lidia for the projections, only to have to carry them back upstairs to the new VP Finance. Lidia wouldn’t have to do anything other than her job. And Mr. So-help-me-God wouldn’t have to request the projections. They would simply be there on his computer, in a folder, on the Accounts page, for him to click on and open at his convenience.
Suddenly, those islands, separated by time, evolution and prevailing attitudes, experience reverse continental drift and become united once more: a cohesive continent, all speaking the same language and able to work together effortlessly.
The New Pangea
Most modern digital transformations will likely conclude in either a cloud-based platform such as SharePoint Online, or a hybrid system, with some data stored on the Cloud and some data hosted locally, on-site. As a cloud-based collaborative platform that integrates with Microsoft® Office, SharePoint Online, for example, would supply Bob and company with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and features such as Teams that make real-time global communication a snap. Those disparate islands converge into a united, cohesive, seamlessly functioning singular unit, where accessibility and productivity soar.
Outdated or disparate systems in various departments make internal communication and data-sharing virtually impossible. Digital transformation pulls it all together.
But the modern workplace is about so much more than just MS Office Online or email accounts. To think of a modern network as merely MS Office productivity apps in the Cloud is to miss the point entirely.
Productivity is only a starting point. The modern workplace brings together features, functionality, dynamic resource deployment and allocation, along with advanced security and accountability.
It brings visibility and control to the network and extends it to any device, anywhere, at any time. It is a key step in enabling required compliance with current information security standards that are a must in today’s world. The Cloud facilitates positive control over computing processes, allowing pro-active management, maintenance and security. Without leveraging the Cloud, you’re just a castle with armored knights facing spaceships and storm troopers.
Here are a few features that should be included in the modern workplace:
- Provide secure access from anywhere:
There should be dynamic resource allocation both for the company and for the users. For the company, additional features and/or functionality should be deployed via integration with a service provider. Users should no longer need to wait on IT for file-share creation or permission changes. This enables work teams to become more fluid in their operation.
- Establish a central point of administration:
- All actions associated with network activities should be monitored from a single location.
- Manage all users, access and data via policies (not documents, but functional specifications that control what can or can’t happen with regard to company resources).
- Improved access to secure communications:
- Ensure the ability to send and receive secure communications.
- Prevent secure data from being transmitted outside the company.
- Improve overall security:
- Establish single sign-on, meaning there’s only one place from which to manage and control access.
- Apply machine learning and virtual intelligence resources to security protections.
- Improve the ability to review and track security events.
- End-point management:
- Exercise control of user devices with the intent to make them safer and more secure to operate.
The various departments have digitalized in their own way at some point, and now each department speaks its own “language.”
- This may include domain-joined devices as well as devices managed with mobile device management (MDM). These tools allow control of what happens to company data in the network and on endpoints. It monitors, alerts and applies predetermined actions when a managed endpoint encounters potential security actions.
Clearly, a digital transformation may ultimately necessitate a migration to the Cloud. If you need more information on that, this article may be helpful, or you can download the free eBook here. Alternatively, should you wish to discuss your data migration with a knowledgeable Service Consultant, either call 727-442-1822 or visit LinkTek.com for more information.
There’s room for the dinosaurs in digital transformation. And Bob will thank you, as will Mr. So-help-me-God. And the future will be a brighter, simpler, easier place in which to live. (Especially since extinction means we no longer have real dinosaurs to deal with every day — and we’re not talking about Lidia.)
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