What do the words "digital transformation" mean to you?
"When most people think of digital transformation, they’re thinking of specific technologies like Internet of Things, blockchain, machine learning, AI – all the tools that enable digital transformation," says Austin Gresham, Enterprise Transformation Executive with RoundTower. But at its core, it’s a total realignment of your organization so you can truly focus on your customers first; a complete alteration in how you run your business.
While digital tools like machine learning and AI might be the best way to discover what your customers want or need, he says, it’s more about how you use those technologies to fundamentally change how you deliver value to your customers, your partners, and your employees. Digital transformation is a journey, if you will; a change in your overall business mindset, and that’s not something that simply comes in a box, some assembly required.
Gresham, who serves RoundTower customers from Kentucky and Ohio, all the way to New York, helps enterprises prepare for digital transformation by addressing four "pillars" – Cloud Transformation, Modern Data Center, Automation, and The Connected Enterprise. "We provide companies with a holistic methodology that addresses the people, the process, and the technology within each of those four pillars," he says. "They’re all connected. It’s very rare that just addressing Cloud Transformation, for example, is going to get you where you need to be." In addressing all four key areas, RoundTower enables its customers to drive positive business outcomes by becoming more agile, efficient and secure through the use of technology.
What’s So Difficult About Transformation?
Clearly, there’s more to going digital than first meets the eye.
In some cases, Gresham notes, a company’s IT department may be directed by executive leadership to implement digital technology, but it lacks the required knowledge and/or the necessary resources to do so. Or, perhaps the executive leadership announces a digital initiative, but the details of said initiative aren’t immediately communicated to the IT department, resulting in a slower-than-hoped-for response. Overall, the decision to become a digital company requires C-suite/board of director-level discussion followed by buy-in at every level, he emphasizes. It’s not an endeavor that can merely be handed off to a company’s IT department. Going digital is a multi-sided challenge, one that RoundTower expertly assists companies of all sizes in conquering from all angles.
"We’re an IT consulting company at our core. What we bring to the table is the expertise to help organizations fully understand how they’re going to play a part in this new digital and enterprise transformation world and not get left behind."
Beam IT Up, Scotty
If you rewind to 20 or so years ago, Gresham recalls, IT was considered a cost center. Nobody really seemed to care about IT, and as such, IT departments were allotted bare-minimum budgets. It was business-as-usual for companies to not pay much attention to IT…until it wasn’t.
"We were like Scotty in the engine room," he says, lightheartedly invoking a Star Trek analogy. "Captain Kirk was barking at us, ‘We need more power!’ And IT would say, ‘We can’t give you any more power!’ And he’d bark, ‘I don’t care! We need it anyway!’ Then, in the ‘90s, it was the whole idea of IT as a partner with businesses. We got a seat at the table. But today, IT is not just about partnering, it’s about leading.
"For a lot of companies – especially the companies that have been in business for the past five years, for example – IT isn’t just part of their business, it is the business," Gresham continues. "So, RoundTower is helping IT leadership in big and small organizations understand how they can lead their companies in new directions, how they can be innovators and find new sources of revenue."
There are a lot of consulting firms that will tell a company it needs to undergo the fundamental business mindset change that is digital transformation, but they don’t always know how to execute the necessary changes, he adds. And that’s where RoundTower breaks away from the rest of the IT solutions provider pack.
"RoundTower addresses your digital transformation needs from the aspect of helping you determine what you need to do, the roadmap to get you there, and then we execute that roadmap with you, from the basic hands-on keyboard implementation to the bigger architectural business process changes. That’s where we really shine – our ability to not only consult but execute."
Change: Culprit & Catalyst
According to Gresham, companies often embark upon the digital transformation journey because their customers expect them to. Nevertheless, this type of change, even at their customers’ behest, rarely comes without twinges of discomfort. Often, culture is the culprit, he points out. It’s just human nature – not everyone embraces change. That’s where RoundTower employs its invaluable expertise to change the human element as impediment into culture as catalyst, improving customer outcomes through the tools of the ever-evolving technology trade.
"I always say there are two times when people complain – one is, they complain when nothing ever changes, and the other time they complain is when something changes," Austin says, with an insightful chuckle. "So, because your organization is made of people – people who are doing a job – you need to really make sure that, from the very bottom to the very top, everyone is on the same page. You need to make sure they know why you want to make these major changes and how those changes will affect them. Lack of communication can make or break transformation."
In addition to culture, other obstacles that may disrupt a company’s decision to go digital include legacy infrastructure that can’t keep up; difficulty in finding employees with the necessary skills and talents as well as difficulty in retraining existing employees; making the transformation a priority while operating the business as it currently exists; and, as is often-tempting, technology-based decision making, i.e., the lure of deploying the newest, coolest technological "shiny object" that’s suddenly trending.
"RoundTower starts by understanding what your company’s drivers are, what metrics and measurements are expected," Gresham continues. "How can technology help address those or give better outcomes? And then, how will adopting that technology affect the people who actually use it? How will it affect the company as a whole? And we help determine what it is you will need to do differently in conjunction with this new technology, because you can’t just take a new technology and apply your old business processes to it.
"So, RoundTower’s biggest strength, I think, is providing not just the high-level academic advice, but also the hands-on practical methodology to get businesses to move beyond simply talking about transformation."
Sitting down with IT leadership and helping them chart a course, creating a roadmap for enabling digital transformation, and executing it – that’s how RoundTower spells "peace of mind" at this IT/digital transformation point in time. "It’s peace of mind for the IT leadership team because they can rest assured knowing they are ready for whatever comes at them. And it’s peace of mind for the executive leadership team because they know their IT department is fully prepared."
RoundTower is headquartered at 5905 E. Galbraith Road, Third Floor, Cincinnati, OH 45236. For more information, visit www.roundtower.com.