Most organizations recognize that they need to digitize key business processes to make the most of the latest tech, meet the changing demands of customers and keep up with quick-moving competitors. However, even those who see the need for digital transformation don’t always know the best place to start.
Digital maturity is a moving target. Organizations must constantly evaluate themselves to determine where they’re thriving and where they’re coming up short.
Getting useful insights from your evaluation is all about asking the right questions. In this blog, we’ll explore four questions every leader should ask themselves as part of their business’ digital maturity assessment:
- Are you prepared to operate in a world that’s fully digital, with everything that entails?
- Will you be able to keep up with the accelerated pace of innovation?
- Do you have a strategy to future-proof your business?
- Are you accounting for the environmental and social impact of your business?
Thriving in a digital world
It may seem obvious to say that we’re living in a digital world, but not all business leaders have fully accounted for the implications of that statement. Namely, living in a digital world means that businesses will face both new digital opportunities and new digital threats.
One example of a new opportunity is that businesses can now use digital technology to optimize customer and employee experience (CX/EX) in ways that never would have been possible before. Capturing these opportunities is essential to optimizing customer retention and building an engaged workforce at a time when both groups have high expectations. You must ask yourself: Are you fully utilizing the technology available to you to optimize CX/EX? If not, what would it take to do better?
Similarly, digital business leaders now face many cybersecurity threats that their predecessors never had to worry about. When the Equinix 2023 Global Tech Trends Survey (GTTS) asked global IT leaders to rate the top threats facing their organizations, cyberattacks (72%) and security breaches/data leaks (71%) were the two most common responses.
To stay ahead of these rapidly proliferating threats, it’s essential that you not only include cybersecurity in your technology strategy, but also make it an integral part of your overall business strategy. Are you investing in the digital infrastructure and services you need to mitigate cybersecurity threats? What risks could you face if you fail to do so?
Keeping up with the accelerated pace of innovation
Today’s IT leaders have access to a wide range of new technologies that could offer important benefits. The rapid pace of these new innovations means that businesses that fail to implement them quickly are at risk of being left behind.
In the past year, we’ve seen rapid advancements in AI technology, creating significant potential for enterprise use cases. That said, many organizations have a long way to go before they can turn that potential into reality. In the GTTS, 42% of IT leaders said they were not very confident with their infrastructure’s ability to accommodate the growing use of AI. Furthermore, increased OPEX costs and lack of internal knowledge were commonly named as deterrents to adopting newer technologies like AI.
Are you keeping up with the latest tech trends and evaluating how those trends could directly impact your business operations? Do you have a strategy to help streamline the adoption of new technologies?
Are you aware of the challenges of training AI models at scale, including the need to host powerful compute at the digital edge to keep latency low? Are you prepared to deploy the distributed digital infrastructure needed to do that?
Future-proofing your business
It’s an old cliché that the only constant is change, but it’s certainly true in digital business. We can’t know for sure what the future will hold, but it’s clear that it will involve growing complexity, in the form of geopolitical conflict, supply chain issues, the proliferation of new data privacy and sovereignty regulations, and much more.
Responding quickly to changing market conditions will require digital infrastructure agility. Think about whether your current approach makes it easy for you to expand into new locations or connect with new ecosystem partners whenever the need arises. Are you overly dependent on physical hardware that locks you in to a certain way of doing things (not to mention driving high CAPEX spend)? If so, are you taking steps to move toward an Everything as a Service (XaaS) business model that can offer greater flexibility, agility and cost-efficiency?
A future-proof business also needs a knowledgeable, experienced workforce. This is emerging as a serious challenge for businesses across the world: In the GTTS, 45% of IT leaders said that the speed at which the tech industry is transforming is among the biggest skills challenges facing the sector as a whole.
As mentioned earlier, building a great employee experience is one of the main factors involved with attracting and retaining the right talent. Even so, you may have to get creative to fill in the skills gaps. Start by being honest with yourself about where those gaps exist within your business. Then, ask yourself if investing in unorthodox talent pipelines—such as training programs for those looking to change careers or reenter the workforce—could help fill them.
Tackling your sustainability targets
Environmental and social issues are taking on new importance for business leaders everywhere. For one thing, there’s growing recognition that all businesses need to work together to tackle the biggest sustainability challenges facing our society. For this reason, customers have come to expect their suppliers and service providers to treat environmental and social issues as top priorities.
Also, stricter regulations around sustainable practices are likely coming to jurisdictions around the world. Most organizations are doing what they can to prepare: In the GTTS, only 7% of global IT leaders said their companies weren’t doing anything to manage environmental regulations.
To understand how well prepared your business is for the changing regulatory landscape, start by looking at your sustainability reporting requirements. If you were suddenly asked to increase transparency in your sustainability reporting, would you be able to do so easily?
Also, keep in mind that it’s not just your own sustainability practices you’ll need to account for. Are you tracking how your suppliers and partners approach sustainability? What can you do to help steer them in the right direction? Do you have a plan in place to reduce emissions across your own operations and your supply chain?
A sustainable future will require both a healthy planet and thriving communities. That’s why you must include social issues as part of your sustainability strategy. Think about how the digital divide could stand in the way of equitable access to your services. What can you do to advance digital inclusion across all the communities in which you operate?
Go from questions to answers with help from Equinix
I hope the questions posed in this blog will provide the inspiration you need to get on the right track with your digital maturity assessment. The bigger question is, what do you do when you’re not happy with the answers you get?
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for achieving digital maturity; you’ll need a digital-first strategy that’s attuned to your business and its unique requirements. And no matter what strategy you choose, you’ll need the right digital infrastructure in the right places to help you execute it.
That’s where Platform Equinix® can help. With a global network of Equinix IBX® colocation data centers spanning 70+ metros on six continents, we can help you get the digital infrastructure you need to tackle your biggest challenges, wherever you need it. We can also help you connect with the cloud, network and SaaS providers you need to raise your digital maturity levels quickly.
To learn more about how top businesses are accelerating their digital transformations with the help of distributed, interconnected digital infrastructure, read the Leaders’ Guide to Digital Infrastructure today.