The Impact of COVID-19 on Digital Transformation

4 Nov 2020

As businesses across the world have learned to adapt to new ways of working in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen accelerations in the IT industry that may have been unimaginable before. For just one example, we can look at the growth of remote working and how this has been facilitated through the hard work of IT managers, CIOs and entire IT departments – allowing hundreds of thousands of businesses to operate efficiently and safely, even during the most unimaginable circumstances.

 But one element of IT that has seen the biggest growth over the past 8 – 12 months is Digital Transformation, which has been propelled into importance by the challenges that COVID has presented. This, inevitably, has led to issues – with some organizations being ready and able to embrace transformation whilst others have been slow off the mark. In this article, we will examine what Digital Transformation actually means for your business, how it has been expedited by COVID-19 and what solutions are available to help you make the most of your IT evolution.

What is Digital Transformation?

‘Digital Transformation’, and how it is actually achieved in an organization, is sometimes difficult to define. To some in IT, it is used as a catch-all term to describe the ‘digitization’ of processes – replacing manual, analogue tasks with more efficient digital alternatives. A good, simplified example might be the evolution of recording transactions on paper, to using a spreadsheet on your computer; it’s the upgrading of an established, physical format to a digital one. But this blanket definition seeks to paint with broad strokes, never quite getting to the heart of what Digital Transformation can, and does, represent.

To Certero, Digital Transformation is the fundamental shift in the way a business operates and engages in its market.

It is about defining a completely new strategy around how IT is proliferated across an organization, with an emphasis on analytical data, automation and intelligence, with the ultimate goal of removing bottlenecks from processes and increasing the efficiency of the business. And yes, a good deal of this will involve switching manual, analogue process to a more modern approach! This will allow organizations to grow with their digital capabilities and engage in new markets.

But what does this actually mean for businesses? What benefits will they receive from investing in transformation? For IT teams around the world, the answer should be fairly obvious; by enabling more digital processes, businesses will be able to run at a higher efficiency, with increased readiness, agility, and scalability, being better able to tackle the challenges of tomorrow.

With transformative solutions such as ‘Certero Digital Transformation Edition’ designed to take full advantage of the architectural advantage of Certero’s Unified Platform – allows ITAM and SAM professionals to see and manage their IT estate through a single pane of glass and more critically, with a single data source, all normalized without intervention – businesses can do away with outdated practices sooner and embrace the future of IT and the wealth of ‘ready to use’ knowledge to aid better decision making which then provides business with that all important insight.

How did we get here?

Over the past few months, those in the IT industry have produced reams of insight about how COVID-19 has shaped the industry – and there is no doubt that 2020 will be seen as a defining moment for the sector. One that has forced us to re-evaluate, to adopt change (sometimes unwillingly), and to adapt in unprecedented circumstances.

But when we look at this year, and the challenges it has presented, we should always consider how fortunate we are to have the tools and solutions in place to meet this head-on. For example, most organizations had video conferencing software ready to go; many businesses were already utilizing the Cloud in some form; remote working was not an unrealistic capability for the vast majority of the workforce. If this had happened 15 years ago, many businesses would not be in a position to facilitate their employees – and in instances where they could, it would have come at great expense to the organization. Thanks to investment in one aspect of Digital Transformation, businesses have the ability to facilitate their workers remotely, whilst reducing costs across their IT estate and having a clear overview of all their hardware and software assets. This has rendered companies more resilient and agile during an incredibly critical time for the industry.

What this tells us is that while Digital Transformation was certainly on the agenda for many companies – we only need to look at the IT agendas of large businesses to see how far they’ve come – it has been expedited tremendously by the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, according to The Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO survey 2020, which spoke to over 4,200 IT managers and CIOs from across the industry, only 33% of businesses had Digital Transformation strategies in place pre-pandemic. Whilst there had been growth in the IT estate, with better-structured businesses investing heavily in SaaS and emerging automation, this increased dramatically has the realities of lockdown set in.

On average, IT managers and CIOs have seen their budgets increase by 5% since the start of the pandemic – with extra funds being made available in order to hasten the Digital Transformation. As Certero’s own report, Beyond the C Word, suggests, the majority of this investment will have gone toward procuring new assets to facilitate remote working, as well as on solutions that ensured visibility of the estate. The study by Harvey Nash also suggests that during the opening stages of the pandemic, IT budgets grew at a greater rate than at any time in history, highlighting how important the push for Digital Transform was, and remains, during this period.

So looking back on the past few months, it seems undeniable that COVID, not CIOs, is responsible for the push toward Digital Transformation. We know it was always on the cards, but the pandemic forced words and theory into action – you can’t be slow and steady during a pandemic, you need to act decisively! And that’s precisely what so many organizations have done. They have embraced transformation and allowed IT to enable positive change within their business; removing unnecessary blockers to progress, meeting unique challenges of the environment, and ultimately helping to cut down costs across the board.

With a transformative ‘Certero Digital Transformation Edition’ package covering hardware, software and mobile asset management as well as self-service solutions including Apps Stores and Password reset management, businesses have been able to take greater control of their estate during a crisis, changing processes in days and weeks not months and years. This has led to expenditure being reduced, manual processes being automated and legacy tools dropped, and security being reinforced – creating a more cost-effective, future-ready organization.

Indeed, when we asked CIOs whether COVID would kick-start their Digital Transformation investment strategy as part of the Beyond the C Word Report, 57% responded in the affirmative. Clearly, we can all look to coronavirus as a key driver of evolution within our industry.

What does the future look like for IT teams?

As we’ve discussed in previous articles, organizations are facing numerous challenges in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most pressing is the very real threat of budget cuts due to a global recession. Despite some economies starting to ‘bounce back’ after the worst of the COVID-19 impact, there can be no doubt that serious damage has been done, and it is businesses that are likely to feel this hardest.

With this in mind, it seems only reasonable that businesses would pull back from investment in their Digital Transformation, right? But this couldn’t be further from the truth.

We’ve examined how Digital Transformation creates efficiencies in your IT processes, helping your business to function faster through automation. This, in turn, reduces the amount of time and money that is required to monitor your IT estate, allowing teams to focus on more specific problem areas and that have a positive impact on your organization. And in a time where cost-saving is a paramount concern for business leaders, it should be obvious that investment in initiatives and tools that drive efficiency are a net gain. Simply put: if businesses are worried about the effects of a recession, Digital Transformation is a solution for cutting costs and safeguarding their IT for the future.

Indeed, we could easily speculate that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic would have been much worse for businesses if they weren’t already on the road to Digital Transformation. Without prior investment, IT teams would have been caught flat-footed at the beginning of lockdown, struggling to get complete visibility over their estate or have strategies in place to mitigate the worst of the pandemic’s impacts.

This pandemic has created a perfect scenario for businesses to drive their Digital Transformation – to ditch their outdated, legacy tools and find a new solution that is built for today’s challenges. To say goodbye to the multi-vendor, multi-overhead complexity of other enterprise solutions, and look for an opportunity to unify and modernize. As we’ve said, the time for talking about Digital Transformation is over, and the time for implementation is here! CIOs and IT Managers now need to look for new ways to save their organization money, with detailed, long-term strategies that work.

For example, CIOs can look towards automated solutions such as a self-service password reset solution. Certero Passworks, available as part of ‘Certero Digital Transformation Edition’ innovative Enterprise solution, allows employees to automatically and securely reset their passwords from their IT terminal, without the need of the IT desk. This saves, on average, up to 30% of all help desk calls, saving time and labor costs for more critical issues. Similarly, self-service software portals such as Certero App-Centre reduces IT support costs by allowing employees to effectively and efficiently source applications in one centralized hub. Less support means less time on frivolous tasks and more time on the bigger issues. With simple automated processes like this – that make up the wider part of your Digital Transformation – businesses can empower users to help themselves, taking strain off IT, leading to a more cost-effective department.

Furthermore, by moving to advanced Digital Transformation, CIOs and IT Managers can protect their organization against the growing financial risks of the Cloud. As businesses adopt remote working during COVID-19 lockdowns, more and more teams are reliant on Cloud-based applications and technologies to complete day-to-day tasks. This not only poses a significant security risk for businesses, but also a financial one that they may not have considered previously.

By investing in Digital Transformation, businesses can protect themselves against:

  • Shadow IT – The unauthorized purchase of Cloud systems and licenses that are deployed by a department other than the IT.
  • Bill Shock – When your organizational costs change or increase unexpectedly. This could occur when users sign-up to Cloud applications without performance or capacity planning, leading to unwarranted bills coming through.
  • Toxic Consumption – The mismanagement of IT resources across an organization. For example, users testing new software and forgetting to power it down or remove it after use, leading to redundant resources which could cause security issues.
  • Cloud Sprawl – The uncontrolled spread of Cloud instances, services or providers throughout a business. For example, where a user launches software that may be available in another environment, or where a better price could be agreed by the IT team.

With investment in Digital Transformation solutions, CIOs can introduce automated systems that track the proliferation of Cloud instances. Not only does this ensure maximum visibility across the organization, but it also enables IT teams to respond quickly to any anomalous data – keeping security risks to a minimum and, most importantly, ensuring that costs are lowered.

All in all, the future of IT is one of automation and transformation, with businesses getting greater visibility over their entire estate. And with increased visibility comes increased control. So whilst the future of the economy looks difficult to predict, those in the IT space can have assurances that, with the right ITAM and SAM solutions in place, they have all the tools they need to create a more efficient environment – delivering better value for their organizations and helping to save jobs.

How Certero can help

Certero offers a simple yet powerful package called ‘Certero Digital Transformation Edition’, which can be implemented and start to deliver benefits in days and weeks, instead of months and years. The solution creates simplicity out of chaos, radically transforming your IT estate and providing value to your business.

The easy-to-use package is delivered as SaaS, and comprises five Certero leading products that all work holistically and optimally as one single solution:

  • IT Hardware Asset Management
  • Software Asset Management
  • Mobile Device & Application Management
  • Self-Service App Store
  • Self-Service Password Reset Management

These products can be implemented across a variety of platforms including Windows, MacOS, Android and iOS – ensuring that you can get the visibility and protection you need across your entire estate. And with Certero’s advanced architecture, you can see it all in one ‘unified’ platform, allowing all of the products to work together as if in a single solution. Not only does this make automation and reporting easier than ever, but it also ensures costs are kept to a minimum.

With Certero, CIOs and IT managers get a single, normalized data source for business insights – removing the pain points of legacy tools. And the ‘single pane of glass’ solution ensures that dashboards and reporting are readily available, so everyone has visibility and clarity over what needs addressing. This allows IT teams to spot issues sooner and respond faster, driving efficiency across the business. What’s more, with full training and support offered for the transition to a new SaaS platform offered by Certero, Digital Transform is now less of a risk – negating time pressures and user experience so you can focus on becoming operational.

Certero’s best-in-class products work together seamlessly, creating a solution that offers nothing but benefits:

  • Reduce overheads by removing legacy vendors and integrating all of your assets in one place.
  • Get greater visibility of your IT estate with increased governance and security.
  • Consolidate data for better understanding and reporting.
  • Automated multiple time-consuming tasks in your daily process.
  • Manage more users, flexibly, with a holistic overview of assets.
  • Get a better understanding of operational costs, consumption and wastage, with the ability to optimize.
  • Become more agile with the ability to respond to tasks, threats, and information faster than ever before.
  • Enjoy increased security with standards up to ISO27001, ensuring your business is protected.

With COVID-19 forcing businesses to adopt Digital Transformation earlier than planned, it’s important that you have the right solutions to meet your needs – helping your business to save time and money in a challenging climate.

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