Digital Transformation in Isolation

Digital transformation is usually a large program of work across multiple streams with a variety of providers, goals and KPIs that takes place over many months. However, the escalation in the face of isolation/remote working has meant many projects have placed significant focus back to a basic requirement: data availability.

Many organisations, large and small, have complex infrastructures consisting of both on premise and online data storage and have strong governance around those data stores – things like restricted network access etc.

However, in a world, yes not even restricted to a county – a world, where everyone is working from dynamic IPs and a huge variety of devices, we find a great deal of those security policies becoming “not fit for purpose”.

While addressing your digital transformation in a carefully structured plan, with staggered increases in spend and time to avoid change fatigue, what has actually happened (due to the mass isolation of users) is that all parts of the plan have become urgent. Whether that is controlled device management, mobile device management, data location for speed and frequency of access, availability of Apps off-premise, business process automation for increased productivity or the overarching need to work as a team remotely but still efficiently, all areas are now top priority.

Compounded by the need to minimise spend during an unpredictable sales environment and the lack of availability of staff who have been furloughed, it is no wonder that Digital Transformation is now, not just a projected plan but rather a picklist of which parts can be achieved at speed.

Fortunately, those organisations that have already partly adopted Office 365 need only to add, to their licensing for most users, functionality out of the box. This will help with some of the issues that have arisen. Adding or turning on Microsoft Teams has been, by far, the biggest action taken by most companies, with over 12 million daily users added in just 7 days at the start of the isolation period! The pattern was clear – working remotely is easier with Microsoft Teams than without!

Microsoft stack experts have rallied, content has been created, webinars run, and course materials made free of charge to support new users with the online tools and to help Microsoft support this uptake.

Availability of on-premise data is the next hottest topic, and so the next big step after Microsoft Teams adoption has been the migration of data online. Whether uploading data to Office 365 in SharePoint Online, OneDrive or Microsoft Teams (so all SharePoint) or creating Azure equivalents that drive the shift, online is both essential and transformative for isolated users.

Migration, however, is a massive change and requires both execution planning and a cutover strategy to work. Users are easily confused by a move that is not communicated correctly and migration of data needs to be performed diligently and vigilantly to ensure the new location has all the associated meta data transferred with it. Therefore, making migration look like a simple cut and paste is an art!

Migration is being undertaken at such a speed and we need to be aware of the downsides, everything from lost data to increased pressure on IT support (already maxed out with remote hardware support.)

So, how can you help your organisation transition? Well, Migration is already a huge topic online with many You Tube videos experts and consultancies out there to help. Self-service migration is available, and it’s become a genuine concern: could this be the next wave of shadow IT – with users undertaking the migration without IT support?

It is essential, right now, for organisations to look at their data, its location, and its ease of access. To mitigate end user action, you need to identify and communicate to teams that may undertake their own migration and in effect cause unintended duplication of data.

Post migration, it is now time, to look at automation. Your remote teams will know what systems are unattainable in a remote world. Anything paper based will be failing – now is the time to review how you can add simple automation to help, anything from allowing approval processes with Power Automate, to the provision of Power Apps to provide secured and easy to use tools that can be surfaced with Microsoft Teams.

Therefore, I urge these steps.

1 – Get into Office 365 with Microsoft Teams turned on

2 – Get help to migrate your data

3 – Ask your teams what is failing and needs automation

4 – Revise your digital transformation plan around these priorities

As you probably already know I’m a change organisation advocate and I believe we should be constantly changing, keeping systems up-to-date with the technology on an ongoing basis rather than just as a one off project, a model that surviving organisations will have already adopted.

Please do not get left behind.

Thanks for listening – don’t forget to leave comments below or get in touch with me directly if you’d like to chat about the content posted here or anything to do with the Power Platform – I’m a Business Applications speaker and evangelist with a clear focus on delivering real business value from technology. I speak at least once a month so please find me at an event and #LetsGetCoffee

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