While most businesses have adopted digital infrastructure to some extent, many still do not have a holistic plan to transform their business using the right digital infrastructure. Studies show that most businesses tend to retain legacy tools while implementing the digital strategy, and what really happens is, there is a complete mismatch between digital and non-digital, leading to subpar organizational performance. In result, companies see results that are satisfying in some areas, while creating new risks and liabilities in others.
Businesses need to have a 5-pronged approach towards digital infrastructure. This will help look at their entire business infrastructure as a single entity and build a strategy around it. In fact, the right strategy will help your business to transform itself into a lean and uber-efficient machine that can give your competitors a run for their money. Most importantly, having a digital strategy will help you to focus better on your business and enter new avenues. In this article, we describe our 5-pronged approach to make use of digital infrastructure in the right way and optimize your business to achieve new heights.
One of the first things you need to do in order to assess your hardware situation is to examine how your network infrastructure is. Network infrastructure includes both software and hardware components and is an integral part of IT infrastructure. For your software components to work efficiently, your enterprise network needs to be top notch. Evaluate existing routers, operating systems, network security applications, network operations, IP addressing, wireless protocols, etc.
At the same time, evaluate data centers as well, as most businesses use subpar services which are often exorbitant. Consider seeking an external vendor’s help in choosing the right data center for your business requirements. To transform your business using the right data center, begin with creating a strategy. Implementing agile IT organization is crucial to this process, as is virtualization and cloud. Intel’s whitepaper recommends evaluating aging infrastructure by computing various metrics and KPIs.
Please bear in mind that agile infrastructure can either be virtualized or nonvirtualized, and this solely depends on your organizational requirements. Nevertheless, virtualization is key to having a successful cloud strategy, which we shall discuss next.
Today, you can practically move every legacy technology to the cloud and reap the benefits of reduced costs, increased efficiency, and access to technology which you previously didn’t have. Software as a Service (SaaS) helps you to access and use software programs which were probably out of reach for you if you are a small business. If you are a large business, SaaS is equally important to reduce dependency on physical infrastructure and keep your business agile and scalable. SaaS models offer pay-as-you-go schemes, which allow businesses of all sizes to scale or downscale depending on their situation.
In addition, the cloud can also help you to access infrastructure via the cloud. Storage, data centers, and even networks can be used on an infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) model. Cloud computing helps businesses to eliminate organizational flab and grow lean and agile. If you are a service provider yourself, consider using PaaS (platform as a Service), which helps you to develop new applications and tools on cloud-based platforms, instead of having to invest in expensive platforms. In short, cloud computing provides the technological impetus required to make your business grow quickly.
With more businesses using tools to automate processes, ERP, CRM, and HRMS tools are almost an integral part of every successful business. However, they create unique problems of duplicate entries, repetitive manual exchange of information, and a continued lack of coordination between departments. Integrating these tools using available APIs is a popular method to reduce duplicate entries and increase automation.
Most importantly, data can be shared between integrated tools, leading to richer insight and more accurate predictions. If you have an eCommerce business, for instance, you can integrate your ERP with your CRM, so that purchases made by customers online is immediately reflected the inventory department, which can replenish stocks automatically. The possibilities are endless, and such a heightened level of coordination is only possible when you integrate software tools.
Before you decide to integrate, make sure that you have an integration strategy, and that you have spoken to vendors who will be able to do it for you efficiently. Integration strategy also involves training your staff so that they use the new interface effectively. In addition, you will also have to account in for security-related ramifications.
These may seem like disparate terms often used by IT honchos, but they are very important for businesses of all sizes. IoT, or Internet of Things, uses sensors embedded in devices to intelligently communicate with servers and perform functions that ordinary devices cannot. These can further be connected to smartphones so that device-users have more control over how they interact with it. In a business perspective, sales and marketing teams can use IoT-enabled devices during promotional events, while logistics and product-handlers can use IoT enabled product tracking.
Blockchain is another digital technology which can help businesses immensely. You can use smart contracts to ensure security, and distributed ledgers allow you to process transactions in a safe and secure manner. Blockchain has a number of applications for businesses, right from identity verification to automated approvals.
Artificial intelligence is another emerging technology that has now become mainstream for business use. Regardless of the size of your company, you can use AI-enabled chatbots for customer service, social media management, and certain marketing tasks. These technologies are accessible, affordable, and easy to implement. Businesses only need to decide to embrace them before their competitor does.
To ensure business success, it is not enough to have the best infrastructure in place. Digital infrastructure’s success depends on how secure it is against various kinds of threats, and how wisely you are able to foresee attacks taking place so that you can take preemptive measures. The first step towards making sure that your digital infrastructure is safe is by conducting a risk assessment. Your next step is to evaluate and predict threats that may occur in the future.
Finally, making security a part of IT governance and digital policy is very important. Get all the decision makers to agree on a security policy that takes into account the entire gamut of digital infrastructure you have put in place. Seek the help of vendors who are specialists in not only digital infrastructure but also their various security loopholes and overcoming these threats.
For instance, most businesses have now begun to include Bring your Own Device (BYOD) policies, along with access management and two-factor authentication. All these efforts pay off in the long term when you save huge amounts of money by averting security lapses. While we are at it, it is important for you to comply with GDPR as well, as this is a crucial component of not only security but also managing your digital infrastructure.
With the right digital strategy, your business is ready for future
As you can see, making use of digital infrastructure isn’t about choosing a cloud service or deciding to integrate your ERP and CRM. It needs a plan and a strategy that involves all areas of your business. As you begin to assess, evaluate, and predict your needs and requirements, you will understand how best to implement the digital infrastructure for your business success. Regardless of your business size and where it is located, begin with a thorough audit of all your hardware and legacy tools.
Begin investing in better tools and upgrade to newer hardware till your finances allow you. When possible, move to the cloud and integrate multiple software tools in order to eliminate duplicate entries and manual efforts. Consider investing in newer technologies such as IoT and artificial intelligence, both of which can help you to reimagine your sales and marketing processes. Blockchain can help you rev up your operations by implementing smart contracts, identity verification, and more.
Finally, get the decision makers to focus on digital governance and focus on security, as there are many cybersecurity threats today than ever before. If you are unable to do all this by yourself, you can always seek the help of an external vendor who has the right skills and tools to not only provide consultation but also implement the strategy that is agreed upon.