IT Execs Struggling With Digital Transformation: Unisys

A Unisys study shows that digital transformation is a struggle for IT executives and only 41 percent say they are prepared for it.

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IT and business professionals in the United States and Europe understand the value of adopting a digital business model but struggle to find the best way to accomplish digital transformation, according to the findings of a new survey from Unisys and IDG.

The digital business model represents the convergence of social technology, cloud, mobility, data analytics and security to drive new business models and enable and support an increasingly tech-savvy workforce and customer base.

Moreover, the IT infrastructure enabling the business models must be flexible and scalable on demand, the study said.

The 188 respondents to the survey—conducted for Unisys by IDG Research—said they believe digital business provides the key to providing high levels of service. Fifty-five percent said service requirement is their key challenge for 2016.

"Digital business can be a powerful force for enhanced productivity and competitive differentiation in a crowded marketplace," Dan Huberty, vice president of vision, strategy and enterprise architecture at Unisys, said in a statement. "However, the window for seizing the initiative is rapidly narrowing. Smart IT organizations must take steps now to implement a concerted digital-business strategy and infrastructure or risk missing a golden opportunity for innovation and growth."

Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of the Unisys survey respondents said they consider it highly important for their organizations to modify technology, IT processes or IT resources over the next 12 months to implement digital business, focusing especially on five key priority areas: mobile application development, cloud deployment, social media, data analytics and security.

Yet the study indicates that 54 percent of respondents assess their organization's progress toward a digital transformation that delivers on user expectations as average or below average (32 and 22 percent, respectively), while 45 percent rate progress above average.

In addition, fewer than 20 percent of respondents who rate each of the five IT focus areas as critical or high priority for digital-business implementation report significant progress in any one area. Few indicate that their organization is ready to meet customer expectations over the next 12 months. Only 41 percent said their technology or infrastructure is prepared, while 40 percent and 39 percent, respectively, rate their IT skill sets and security/compliance strategies as adequate.

Respondents who consider each of the five strategic IT initiatives as at least a moderate priority report the greatest progress in only two of the five key areas. Sixty-nine percent cite at least some progress in both mobile application development and cloud deployment, but pay less attention to social media, data analytics and security, the study showed.

Meanwhile, many respondents to the survey do indicate that their organizations are making progress in areas crucial for delivering the benefits of digital business. For example, a third (34 percent) of respondents say that their organizations are struggling to deliver improved end-user and customer experiences, but 70 percent indicate that they are delivering persona-based service to support internal IT users—and another 15 percent of respondents would like to do so.

Persona-based services are personalized to the job or service requirements of a specific role, extending the principles of customer relationship management (CRM) that normally apply for external customers to internal users. The digital business model is a natural vehicle for CRM and other applications that rely on unified delivery of personalized, integrated information from multiple sources.

Unisys says digital businesses perform best when they transform into software-defined enterprises where key enabling technologies are based on and connected through software to enable greater flexibility and scalability at lower cost than hardware-heavy data centers—the traditional hubs of enterprise IT. Service management for personalized delivery of vital productivity services and service integration and management for cost-efficient coordination of multiple external service providers are key to the success of the software-defined digital business, the company said.