Before 2021, CIOs were more concerned with cybersecurity; that was very understandable, as threat actors were always developing strategies to harm businesses. Though cybersecurity issues and attacks did not wane one bit, the focus shifted to digital transformation when 77.3% of 100 Fortune 500 brands felt the need to give it the number one spot in their 2021 budgets.
Digital transformation is not a novelty, but the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated its adoption by most organizations. This is largely due to the need to improve customer experience and add more value to businesses, especially with the WFH (work from home) model that has become the norm, with the report that 96% of employees will prefer to work from home even after the pandemic.
Digital transformation refers to the systemic processes that include tools, apps, emerging technologies, and organizational culture you must integrate to reimage your business. Since you have to integrate new technologies, you also need to revamp your legacy systems to enhance smooth operations.
What gave CIOs the boost to budget for digital transformation in 2021 budget is a greater need to meet the changing customer expectations; CIOs have realized how essential it is to re-evaluate the extent they have integrated new technology, employees, and processes to add more value to businesses and ensure customer satisfaction. The only way this can be feasible is to embark on holistic digital transformation.
Most digital transformation projects are initiated by the CEO, but the CIO must have great inputs along with other members of the C-suite. Since digital transformation cuts across departments, so all hands must be on the deck to enhance collaboration.
Looking at the situation the world has found itself with variants emanating from the initial coronavirus outbreak, it is evident that we are not going back to the old normal very soon. To survive in the new normal, we need to leverage AI, machine learning, and robotics to conduct businesses as well as lead a normal life.
The physical workspace will not happen very soon; customers will still need your products or services; if you can’t provide a 24/7 service, your customers will shift ground; incidentally, other organizations are ready to do so and in real-time. They are digitally transforming by integrating technologies such as AI Chatbots that are multilingual and have natural language and contextual understanding to ensure they give customers a real-time experience.
Technology is evolving at a very rapid speed; this has given rise to highly function-specific apps you can use to enhance smooth business operations and processes. By integrating these apps, you can eliminate the stress in workflows.
Apps you can use can run into hundreds, hence there is the need to find out what apps are very critical for smooth processes. You must also consider the training and onboarding employees have to go through and the financial implications.
If integrating the apps will add more value to your business and improve customer experience, the other angle you must look critically at is how your digital transformation project will impact your organizational culture. Digital transformation is not just integrating new apps and revamping legacy systems; the people who will use these apps must also have a digital-first culture if you want to succeed with your digital transformation initiatives.
If your organizational culture is not flexible and adaptable, you may have employees resisting any attempt at the digital transformation; there is always “the way we do things” syndrome among most employees. Your digital transformation strategy must take cognizance of how to overcome resistance from employees from the onset.
These are angles you must look into critically before budgeting for 2022.
The spike we saw in cybercrimes in 2020 was not far removed from digital transformation; to survive and ensure that customers are satisfied, organizations had to take dramatic measures such as WFH. Remote working became the norm and to succeed, a lot of apps and tools had to be deployed.
It was not easy to ensure that employees had a full grasp of these tools and apps before deploying them; threat actors saw this as a good opportunity to wreak havoc.
For instance, in 2020, phishing was extensively used by cybercriminals as the entry point for ransomware, it resulted in not less than 54% of digital vulnerabilities.
Employees who work remotely will continue to use collaboration tools and platforms for communication; it cannot be as at the time they were operating from a physical workspace where customers can easily lodge their pain points; everything must happen online; information will flow, and threat actors will be on the watch out to capitalize on lapses. The prediction that cybercrime will grow at the rate of 15% and cost the world a whopping $10.5 trillion annually by 2025, is very frightening; it’s a critical area CIOs must look into, but does that mean that we should jettison digital transformation?
The way forward
The world needs digital transformation; we can’t go back to the Stone Age; customers must be given the best; businesses must thrive; technology must not be bottled up. We must leverage emerging technologies for the smooth operation of our businesses; we must add value.
Since digital transformation and cybersecurity seem to be interwoven, CIOs must draw a delicate balance in how they budget for the two in 2022. As CIOs think up new ideas of ensuring customers are satisfied, they must also think out-of-the-box for ideas to ensure that threat actors don’t leverage the new technologies.
Customers determine the survival of any business; cybercriminals determine if the business will prosper. Digital transformation and cybersecurity must feature strongly in the 2022 budget of any organization that will remain relevant in the global market.