Key considerations when embracing digital transformation

It is a truth universally acknowledged that digital transformation and innovation is paramount in the pursuit of competitive advantage. Employees are demanding change; end user experience is crucial, and data and analytics reign supreme. So why is success so hard to achieve, and why is the prospect of it so daunting?

McKinsey reports that less than 30 per cent of digital transformations succeed and the hard truth is that digital transformation isn’t an easy or measurable process. Organisations put lofty objectives in place and use complex technology to achieve them, when realistically the technology should be the output of the transformation strategy, not the conduit.

When approaching or planning digital transformation, we need to be clear on the ‘why’ before the ‘what’. In other words, rather than being inwardly focused, we should instead be looking at the outcomes we wish to deliver and not the means by which we achieve them. In order to gain competitive advantage, we should be asking what customer outcome we are striving to achieve. Customer experience first, last and always.

There are some key considerations that should provide a framework before embarking on any digital transformation.

The first cab off the rank? Get the right people.

It is important that digital and tech savvy leaders are employed: those who will really drive and understand the vision of the transformation, how it will improve the customer experience, and what is required internally to achieve it. These may not be C-Level executives, but rather those who are intrinsically involved in the day to day processes that keep the wheels of the business turning. Then they need to be empowered to make the right decisions and dedicated as a resource to the change effort.

These leaders must thoroughly understand the capabilities of the workforce so they can continue to give them the right tools to do their jobs efficiently. The leaders engage and foster relationships with all centres of knowledge within the organisation within all departments, connecting both digital and traditional processes. Rolling out a whole new system that nobody is familiar with will have a massive impact on productivity. Engaging and collaborating with employees may uncover critical paths for streamlining process. From internal stakeholders/employees to customers, the whole eco-system should be aware of the vision, and what part they play in the process. The strategy needs to have synergy with all those moving parts. It is a cultural, not a technical, shift.

Digital transformation should not be viewed merely as a technology change; rather that the technology deployed should be part of the strategic decision. It assists with the evolving business culture by streamlining processes and so determines the customer experience. If an initiative is to be launched, everyone should have buy-in on their part in the journey. They should also thoroughly understand what the overarching journey is.

But what of the current legacy systems? Digital transformation is not a one size fits all. Whatever is working in the current environment should be evaluated, as some skills and capabilities may be integral as part of the journey. It may be counterintuitive to rip those out to head into a brave new world. Full digitisation could affect the peripheral business, and several key skills from the ‘old way’ could be integral part in forging the new future. Double down on those skills. A clear strategy will build and extend the current skillset with a view to meeting the future ideal.

And just how is the success of the transformation measured? Again, this should be hardwired into the transformation strategy. If customer experience is king, then success can be measured in several ways depending on the end goal. Digital proficiency, Net Promoter Score and revenue are good markers, but a shift in the way the business thinks will be the primary indicator. The customer gains value as the path they use to purchase products becomes slick and seamless. The business reaps the benefits with better customer retention and profit as it adapts to the needs of their customers.

Digital transformation is an ongoing initiative and must be treated like a movable feast. Irrespective of the goal set initially, leaders and implementers should be prepared to pivot and change at any juncture. Technology moves fast, and a successful transformation will allow for ways to improve customer experience along the way. If it is built into the DNA of the business, then everyone involved will consider it their job to improve the experience.

If focus remains on the vision, on the ‘why’ – the customer experience – you are more likely to end up in the minority of those who will achieve a successful transition.

Partnering for Azure cloud success

The adoption of cloud has been nothing short of meteoric – organisations have been embracing it en masse to stay relevant and to inch ahead of their competition. Cloud is both a catalyst and enabler; public cloud pledging speed to market, heightened security, lower costs, automated self-service delivery, and more innovation. Its promise isn’t static, though; it is constantly changing, and – as it does – so does its complexity. In the scramble to reap its benefits, most have opted for the road most travelled and consumption has largely been through a DIY approach. The result? Many just aren’t using cloud services in the right way. 

Moving to the cloud should enable your business by improving service and reducing cost. Managed correctly the cloud should unlock these much-lauded benefits as well as drive and encourage the acquisition of the latest technologies. When it is badly managed, technical debt, and cost, can spiral out of control. So how should businesses keep pace and harness the full value of the cloud?

As cloud continues to evolve, it is important to choose a partner to help you manage the service, with a strategy aligned to your business needs, goals and direction – one who will really promote growth as the product matures. While a smooth deployment is critical initially, it is essential to look beyond that. Your organisation will need to be supported throughout the lifecycle of the cloud application. Many partners are failing to deliver this crucial ongoing insight.

If your business isn’t being supported by a partner that addresses your fears about the cloud – be it business risk, security, governance, cost creep or on-going management – now is the time to find one that will. Your managed service provider should be more than just a vendor, they will be your strategic partner – assisting with the ever-changing requirements within your digital ecosystem.

The Azure Expert Managed Services Provider programme highlights and promotes only the most capable partners. We are proud to be one of them. Far from being just another certification, this is a recognition of the talent and skill of our cloud experts, proving our ability to pivot and adjust based on your desired business outcomes, regardless of the workload or application. It proves our expertise to unlock the benefit of these technologies and certifies us as influencers of modern and future strategies for digital transformation. We are focused on cloud success and this, coupled with our robust structure and longevity in the market, gives you the peace of mind that you are in a safe pair of hands. We know that there is a better way to leverage Azure, and we can help you reveal its true value.

Datacom’s Beacon on Azure solution delivers a whole ecosystem of managed services on Azure; a myriad of managed and transformational service blocks to create a custom solution to suit each user’s pace of adoption. With visibility of spend and the ability to add, scale and remove managed services to your business requirements. It is an unerringly tech-first stratagem, with the capability to scale at pace. These blocks contain both managed and transformation services, and boast some impressive tools in their armoury.

Managed service blocks include:

  • Azure back-up (and maintenance of crash consistent back-up service)
  • Maintenance of network security group configuration and Azure application gateway
  • Maintenance of VPN/ express route connection configuration
  • Azure ExpressRoute and cloud user/hybrid cloud user management.

Transformation service blocks include:

  • Cloud software development and integration
  • Cloud foundations, network and security
  • Professional consulting.

The cloud juggernaut isn’t going to stop. It is gaining momentum and you need to jump on board if you don’t want to be left for dust. You need someone to help you drive the thing – eyes wide open – to avoid the potholes and obstacles on the way. Let us navigate for you; we’re going in your direction.

Beacon on Azure will help you to unlock the true power of Microsoft Azure to better navigate your cloud transformation journey. Contact us to find out how.

Managing your way to success with Beacon on Azure

The rate of change in technology is accelerating. It is unprecedented, it is unpredictable, and in this – the brave new world of technology revolution – it can be a challenge to keep up with the play. With so many technologies emerging, and so rapidly, the expectations on those who both provide and enable them is greater than it ever has been.

In order to keep step with soaring customer expectations, organisations are taking huge steps to embrace and employ new technologies. The cloud has become a major force – its platforms standing at the pinnacle of digital transformation. Certainly now, with the rapid escalation of COVID-19 worldwide, businesses are clamouring to improve their core operations by leveraging its power. While many have maintained a robust remote structure for years, this has largely been limited to only a few restricted employees. Now entire business units and functions are required to operate in a fully remote mode and interactions are digital rather than physical. The flexibility and agility of cloud solutions are a perfect fit.

While the ability to move faster and hack value is well documented, the reality is that when it is badly managed, the cloud can blow out budget and increase technical debt. An evolving cloud system can be difficult for an IT department to manage, particularly with an accelerated and unprecedented surge in usage. An inability to curbsprawl and initiate effective management practicesoften tarnishes the gilt. In order to keep operational and performance targets on track and within budget, businesses must develop a deep understanding of the interdependencies of the various moving parts of their IT infrastructure. Then policies must be implemented, without compromising on security.

Managed appropriately, a cloud environment offers stakeholders a comprehensive view of all assets – including software and cloud services – which encourage its efficient, effective use. A robust cloud management platform presents to businesses the ability to firmly grasp a complex and fast changing environment: spending and historical trends can be tracked and monitored, security vulnerabilities can be uncovered, data can be secured, and inefficiencies highlighted.

A cloud management platform helps to manage cloud resources, using a combination of software, automation, policies, governance, and people to determine how the cloud services are made available. Beacon on Azure, Datacom’s managed services offering on Azure, enables all users to access the information they need – when they need it. All stakeholders have a central location from where they can view and understand exactly what is being used in their subscriptions. This ensures that every resource being used is optimised, reducing the amount of wasted spend.

Beacon on Azure is pivotal in managing the security status and vulnerability of your IT assets. Backed by clever application management, wide Azure expertise, innovation, and a security first approach, the platform ensures delivery of a consistent set of rules to make certain that the right levels of control are in place. Monitoring is essential for any organisation leveraging the cloud, both in terms of security and performance. If a business monitors early, data can be used to troubleshoot problems and implement repairs swiftly. Monitoring, alerts and governance are built into each Azure subscription and environment deployed. Log and performance data are aggregated in near real-time and customised reports are generated. This allows for a consistent set of rules to ensure the right level of control is in place.

Many businesses don’t have either the budget or appropriate resources for a dedicated cloud team. Our Co-Pilot programme offers a Datacom Azure expert on hand, not only to provide guidance, but also valuable insights on ways Azure should be consumed. In addition, Level 1 and Level 2 support is provided for Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider customers.

Presenting information into meaningful and contextual information, Beacon on Azure allows businesses to track spend limits, analyse usage patterns and manage their costs effectively.

Beacon on Azure will help you to unlock the true power of Microsoft Azure to better navigate your cloud transformation journey. Contact us to find out how.

Not a tech whiz? How you can manage Azure like a pro

Most smart organisations are already harnessing the considerable power of cloud to glean competitive advantage. Not only are their operating costs lower, but their productivity is amplified as they are analysing data to deftly identify business opportunities and potential commercial threats. 

These are the businesses that are building environments capable of rapid, integrated and automated development, empowering them to step up to the fore and disrupt their industries with powerful new solutions. Failure to join the revolution presents a palpable and deadly threat. Those who are harnessing cloud effectively already will be the first to reap its rewards.

Given the exponential shift to cloud, departments other than IT are spending money on technology. They are identifying more intelligent software and applications to increase business efficiencies and to give them the critical edge against their competitors. Experimenting with, or seeking out, the relevant technology is therefore no longer just the remit of IT. Every position is a technical role and, to stay both relevant and significant, each decision maker must become tech-savvy to nimbly navigate the rapidly growing ecosystem of applications, security tools and networking systems. While it is true that everything within the cloud can be automated, these leaders will still need to manage and monitor the tools involved to enable them to unlock its real and actual value. 

With a lack of technical support and expertise available to them in-house, visibility is key to these leaders. Lack of clarity can hinder efforts to track or diagnose application performance issues, delay the detection and solution of security vulnerabilities, and fail to monitor and deliver against service-level agreements. Without the right insight into services – and how any variations can impact pricing – the business can quickly accumulate unseen and unbudgeted expenses.

Visibility of cost is crucial, and the lack thereof is often cited as a major concern. Cloud costs can sometimes be difficult to estimate, often due to the perceived complexity of the cloud infrastructure. Exceeding consumption forecasts, as well as cloud mismanagement, can lead to a significant unbudgeted spend. Knowing where and how to begin the journey towards cloud cost governance can be a real challenge. Understanding what services are being used, what they cost, how they are used, and how they are being accounted for, is a demanding undertaking, particularly with no single management platform where all stakeholders can access the information they need.

Sound overwhelming? It doesn’t need to be.

Beacon on Azure, Datacom’s community of managed services, gives Azure cloud users the choice and broad expertise they need to seize cloud’s real worth. It enables key stakeholders to view, understand and manage their Azure cloud applications on one dashboard, in one place. This single pane of glass allows users to correlate and visualise data across multiple sources (and user-defined business dimensions) in near real-time. With 24/7 alerts, monitoring and governance – as well as Level 1 and Level 2 service desk support included – the end user is firmly in control. By removing the complexities of managing the cloud, and allowing customisation through service blocks, they can add-on multiple other offerings to build a tailored cloud service catalogue, specific and tailor-made to their business.

With the ability to add, remove and scale the service according to individual requirements, Azure users can leverage its full scope and possibility, with the confidence of being supported by the breadth of expertise of the Datacom team. All of this is delivered with minimal personal effort, so even the most tech-shy organisations can become tech-confident in no time. 

Beacon on Azure will help you to unlock the true power of Microsoft Azure to better navigate your cloud transformation journey. Contact us to find out how.

How COVID-19 will enable companies to embrace digitisation and remote work

COVID-19 has officially been declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organisation and countries around the world are taking drastic measures to flatten the curve of infections. In light of this, many companies are asking employees to work from home to avoid their workforce being infected and potentially spreading the disease.

Analysis by KPMG estimated that three million Australians could be infected by COVID-19. This, according to Dr. Brendan Ryenne, KPMG chief economist, would translate to a 1.2 per cent loss in productivity, or a loss of 30 million workdays. Given the risk, companies who embrace digitisation and remote work are likely to reduce potential losses, as they’re able to maintain a productive workforce despite the logistical challenges. Those who are already digitally equipped will fare well in this climate and those who aren’t are faced with challenges and opportunities.

There’s been a rise in fully remote companies like Remote. In a survey, Remote found that 99 per cent of respondents wanted to work from home at least some of the time and 95 per cent encouraged others to work remotely too. The main advantage of remote working, from the employees’ perspective, was the flexibility in their work schedule.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in 2016 almost a third of employees in Australia regularly worked from home and in 2019 an Indeed report showed that 68 per cent of Australian companies allow working from home. Many companies, including those who have been deterred from remote work, are being forced to have a distributed workforce during these difficult times.

One issue that often discourages companies from operating with remote staff is privacy, however there’s no reason why those who have a heightened focus on privacy, like finance and law for example, can’t be fully digitised and distributed.

Take neobanks, for example. CB Insights revealed that neobanks raised US$2.5 billion in the first half of 2019 and Aussie neobanks, like Xinja and Up Bank, have announced solid customer adoption rates. Revolut, which expanded into Australia last year, and is possibly the best known global neobank, has raised US$336.9m according to Crunchbase earning unicorn status. Neobanks know all about operating remotely; they’re defined by their digital nature and not having physical branches like traditional banks. This has transcended into their ability to navigate their way through COVID-19. UK neobank Starling Bank, for example, isn’t worried about the office exodus. “We have been built for this [COVID-19],” said CEO Anne Boden. “We’re built on technology that allows us to offer a scalable and resilient service that’s not tied to a particular location and that can continue to be available to customers 24/7.”

Take the legal sector too. According to Jodie Baker, deputy chair at the Australian Legal Technology Association, Australia is leading the legal tech revolution. In the past few years, there has been rapid expansion of legal technology. In the UK and US, there are such things as legal robots who can perform relatively mundane tasks like legal research. In Australia legal tech for data analysis, block-chained access to legal aid, and comparison and collaboration software all exist and are set to make their mark in the coming years.

The companies who have embraced remote work fully know that productivity, not time spent in a chair, is essential. Take for example Jason Fried, CEO at remote company Basecamp. In his TED talk ‘Why work doesn’t happen at work’,he claims that the best work that people do is actually in their own space and time, and that staying later doesn’t result in higher productivity. “There is a ‘presence prison’”, he says, “at many large organisations where one feels that they must stay back late.” Furthermore, a study completed by Airtasker found that remote workers are more productive, exercised more and save money by not commuting.

Companies who see COVID-19 as an opportunity to digitise are likely to fare much better in this climate than those who don’t. Given the extremely high infection rates, it’s necessary that companies consider digital ways of working now and potentially in the longer term. Research shows that remote, distributed teams can work— the test will now be to see if companies with a heightened focus privacy, and have previously snubbed a remote form of working, seize on the opportunity and the technology that’s available. These new ways of working could change industries for the better and accelerate digitisation.

Daniel Bowbyes, GM Strategy, Datacom Cloud

Responding to Disruption: Stormy weather ahead?

By Kerry Topp

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“If you do what you’ve always done, then you’ll get what you’ve always got.”

There’s a paradox here: why would companies that have been successful and created a winning formula need to do anything different? Why should they feel the need to transform or invest in new areas when they can maximise shareholder returns right now?

The reason: If boards and executives don’t have transformation and continuous improvement in their strategies, they are building vulnerability into their organisations.

To quote Ralf Dreischmeier, Global Leader of Technology Advantage Practice at Boston Consulting Group: “Executives need to create their own ‘digital attacker’ businesses. Long-dominant companies are increasingly under attack from a host of digital start-ups that are out to reinvent businesses and industries by addressing consumer needs in completely new ways.”

Dreischmeier states that incumbents should be more disruptive: “Large companies hold a lot of cards—including resources, assets, relationships, and data—that smaller competitors frequently do not have enough of. But they often do not fundamentally rethink their business model.”

This challenge is at the heart of why companies in New Zealand are slow to commit to activities which seek out new markets and opportunities, and help their people change and survive.

But why?

To quote another guru, Professor Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, recently said: “Making Industry 4.0 work requires major shifts in organisational practices and structures.”

These shifts, Schwab said, include new approaches to IT and data management, to regulatory and tax compliance, new organisational structures, and changes in company culture.

Professor Schwab has been at the epicentre of global affairs for over four decades and he’s convinced that we are at the beginning of a revolution that is fundamentally changing the way we will live, work and relate to one another.

He explored this concept in his book, The Fourth Industrial Revolution. He characterises this Revolution through a range of new technologies that are fusing the physical, digital and biological worlds. The impact of these technologies will affect all disciplines, economies and industries, and challenge ideas about what it means to be human.

“The world has the potential to connect billions more people to digital networks, dramatically improve the efficiency of organisations and even manage assets in ways that can help regenerate the natural environment, potentially undoing the damage of previous industrial revolutions.”

However, Schwab also expressed grave concerns that organisations might be unable to adapt and governments could fail to employ and regulate new technologies to capture their benefits. Also that shifting power could create new security concerns, and inequality could grow causing societies to fragment.

If we focus for a moment on the Financial Services sector as an example. There is no doubt the sector is going through a seismic shift. Changing customer demands, the growth of financial technology companies like Xero, the pressing need to be innovative and the changing relationship between Boards and executives are all reshaping the industry. At the same time, executives need to balance these demands against the expectations of analysts and the requirements of regulators.

This is certainly something coming through loud and clear from the 490 Financial Services CEOs who took part in a 2016 Global CEO Survey recently. The survey, entitled “Turning risk into opportunity – The changing face of Financial Services”, highlighted that CEOs were worried about speed of technological developments, with 81 percent of respondents either extremely or somewhat concerned about keeping up with the pace of change. The next biggest worry was that a limited talent pool could inhibit their growth, which 70 percent of respondents were concerned about.

So what’s the answer?

First, education – specifically, the education of Boards and executives. These incumbents need to be aware of the magnitude of the potential threat but also the opportunity that technology disruption will likely create for their business.

Tech Futures Lab is doing exactly this. As Sacha Judd, Managing Director of Hoku Group recently put it, “The Tech Futures Lab workshop … is critical information that should inform all our decision-making, as the exponential growth of new technologies challenges all of the assumptions that we’ve previously held about what the world will look like, and how our industries and society will adapt.”

Secondly, strong leadership at a time of uncertainty and change is incredibly important.

As Adobe Chief Executive Shantanu Narayen recently put it: “A great Board is one that spends disproportionate amounts of time with management, taking active steps to understand the opportunities and challenges facing the business,” he says. “With the world increasingly moving to digital and businesses implementing digital strategies, Boards also need to boost their digital capabilities to be better strategic advisers to the business.”

But it’s not just technology that Boards need to grapple with, it’s “entrepreneurial venturing” or, put another way, deferring returns today by investing in potential growth areas which can achieve returns in years to come. Boards and execs need to set the expectation that they will be more entrepreneurially-minded and less risk-averse when it comes to investing, and they’ll need to feel comfortable making some decisions based on instinct rather than hard numbers.

Why? Because this is a new world – some of the things that are happening now are unprecedented and you have to be in the game to stand a chance of winning.

New Zealand boards and executives are, on the whole, not especially diverse. They tend to be dominated by very smart accountants and lawyers because of the types of material things discussed – risk, finance, etc.  However, there is a real and present danger of “group-think” with that make up. Companies should consider the addition of a disruptor – an experienced entrepreneurial and tech-savvy protagonist – to their team.

Because as Ralf Dreischmeier said: “Leaders in the digital age are different from leaders in the past. They prototype an agile strategy and learn from their experiences. They attack their own businesses before disrupters do. At the same time, they digitise their core business and get the most value from both their existing and external data, all the while mastering the digital ecosystems they operate in.”

Is this how current Board members and executives have been thinking? In my experience, this is only happening in a handful of local organisations.

Now is the time for vision, strategy, an entrepreneurial streak, strong communication, expectation setting and above all, strong leadership.

Disrupt or be disrupted is the motto of today – but I would add that company leadership needs to enable their people to be safe to “venture smart and venture more”.

Good luck on your venturing – our future economy needs you.

Digital transformation requires people with an appetite for disruption

Digital Transformation Banner

By Brett Roberts

Digital transformation involves using digital technologies – such as the web, cloud, mobile, social media, the Internet of Things and analytics-driven personalisation – to re-shape and improve customer interactions, business models and financial returns. An important focus area is the provision and ongoing enhancement of customer experiences that are multi-channel, data-driven and digitally-enabled.

Ideally, such changes allow organisations to embrace and exploit the exponential rate of technological change for the benefit of themselves and their customers. This often entails a shift in organisational ‘rhythm’ away from a steady, sustained marathon-like jog towards something that more closely resembles orienteering.

The agents of digital change

In a sense, the Datacom Digital, Customers and Collaboration team is at the sharp end of digital transformation. Put simply, we exist to enable digital business: everything from web design and build, mobile innovation and app development to implementing data analytics, business intelligence, Customer Relationship Management and collaboration technologies, such as Microsoft SharePoint.

As you would expect, we help customers with technology design, build, deployment and management, and deliver related big picture strategic advice and consultancy. We understand the critical roles these play, but a major part of what we do is help organisations to operationalise digital innovation – i.e. make transformation ‘stick’.

Time and time again, we’ve found that the single most important factor for long-term success is the people within the organisation. They operationalise the new technologies and processes; the enhanced customer experience. They need to adopt, embody and express the new mindset that accepts and embraces the new world of constant, or at least hastened, change.

This means that, wherever you start on your digital transformation, you should focus on your people first and foremost. A new Datacom white paper, available free for download here, examines the implications of this and provides guidance on how to do it. It focuses on four people-related areas: recruitment, leadership, change management and culture. Below is an excerpt from the paper, on recruitment.

An appetite for disruption

Hiring the best candidates is a perpetual challenge, full of risk and opportunity. If you take the best, then your competition is left with the rest – and vice versa. But in the new digital world, the best people may not be who you are looking for or who you already have on board.

Lean Startup author, Eric Ries, said: “The modern rule of competition is whoever learns fastest, wins.” In other words, you need to recruit smart people who you can teach to do anything, and who can thrive amid disruption. You need people with varied, hybrid abilities. You might think this means hiring a cohort of digitally-minded Millennials, but digital skills can be taught. What you are after is rarer: attitude on top of aptitude – which can exist in people of all ages.

For example, my team regularly interviews candidates for senior developer roles. We look for technical proficiency, of course, but favour people with the ability to have an engaging conversation with a customer about their business issues over those who are more technically skilled but unable to talk outside their domain.

In general, we look for a broader mix of skills within the ideal candidate, and a growth mindset. This means they are mentally flexible, a fast learner, comfortable with uncertainty, accepting of the need to take risks and experiment – and fail sometimes – in order to succeed and grow. They are able to stand up for themselves, but recognise, and run with, better ideas. They collaborate and communicate well, and have empathy for their customers, colleagues, partners and suppliers.

They can sit in a room with a customer and others for a week and work with them to design, build and test a prototype application that the customer takes to their Board and gets approval to fully implement. In our accelerating, digital business world, this kind of rapid ideation and prototyping activity is becoming commonplace, even core business for many organisations – and applicable to all manner of product or service innovation – making the diverse attributes described above more mission-critical every day. It’s how my team and others at Datacom work, on many projects.

Shifting demands

There is an interesting macro trend at play here – a contradiction: the more digital businesses become, the less they need people with traditional IT skills. As the example above shows, there are plenty of roles for highly technical people in specialist firms like Datacom. But as business (and consumer) technology becomes easier to use, more automated, provided as-a-Service, and so on, the need for deep technical knowledge and skills within other types of businesses recedes. If these skills and services are required, then organisations can call on the specialists.

Conversely, the need for people who can leverage new digital technology to learn faster, work more productively, be more creative, and come up with new innovations and solutions and run with them, is exploding. And if you bring in people with an expansive, flexible attitude and these skills, then you will help your organisation to foster a digital mindset and culture.

For more guidance on, or help with, making digital transformation succeed, please contact us on digital@datacom.co.nz.

Brett Roberts is Associate Director for Digital, Customers and Collaboration at Datacom. 

Don’t plan to build a Content Management System – plan to build a website

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By Trudy Evans

When a CMS is delivered the job is only half done. For a web site to be successful, you’ve got to have high quality, responsive content to put into the new CMS structure.

Imagine building a supermarket but not stocking the shelves. The builders would be celebrating that they’ve built the supermarket on time and on budget but the store manager’s saying, ‘When’s the stock arriving? Where are my staff?’ Without stock and staff people won’t find what they want, have a good experience or return for more.

And it gets worse. The builders say stock and staff is ‘out of scope’ for this project and have a section in the Statement of Work to prove it. The project team says: ‘But you build supermarkets all the time. Why didn’t you tell us its best practice to also stock the shelves and hire staff? You’ve let us down. You’d better provide some people to help us sort this out or we’ll never get you to build another supermarket for us again.’

The night before the supermarket opens the project team, the builders, a bunch of grads and random family members are furiously chucking stuff into shelves. The supermarket opens on time but is a total mess. Over the next few weeks there is a mad scramble to get things under control – there is a massive amount of stress, heaps of overtime and a couple of resignations. In the meantime the customers have had such a rubbish experience they’ve gone to the supermarket down the road.

In the real world this wouldn’t happen. Teams who run supermarkets know they need to be stocked. They know what people want, who their potential customers are, and how they buy. Supermarket stock is treated as an asset – it’s why people go to the supermarket and how it makes money.

Having high-quality digital content on your website is like having the right stock in the right aisles. It’s the reason why people visit to your website. Your content will make or break site traffic, engagement and conversion to sales. But all too often content is not treated as an asset and included in the CMS plan.

The analogy of people chucking random stock into shelves at the last minute is an unfortunate reality on many CMS projects. A lack of content planning means website launches are often delayed, damaging customer experiences are made live, business objectives aren’t realised, vendors, customers and visitors are unhappy. Time and money is wasted and it takes a long time to make up the lost ground.

So why is this happening when everyone knows ‘content is king’? Unfortunately it’s not the same as ‘treating content as king’. Content is hard work and the way forward isn’t always clear. Unlike the supermarket stock analogy, content strategy on CMS projects isn’t well known or supported in the digital industry.

You need a content migration strategy – which simply comes down to understanding what’s involved and creating a plan. The approach to intranet migrations is similar. Here are the main steps.

Step one: The audit.

Quantitative audit:

  • The current platforms/sites/tools/sites migrating to the new platform
  • Count of all the content/pages, list page names and URLS
  • Identify content types (including a count)
  • Automated and manual audit
  • Set up a master content migration spreadsheet

Qualitative audit:

  • Identify content owners and stakeholders (RASCI)
  • Define content evaluation criteria i.e. age, relevance, legal requirement, quality, and accuracy
  • Decide which content will be left, kept, or merged
  • Define the state of the content, effort to update, priorities and migration order
  • Identify the visual assets and PDF documents
  • Analyse site statistics and define review sign-off process.

Step Two: Content creation

  • Map the current content from the audit phase to the new information architecture
  • Review the new design and evaluate the impact on content
  • Define how long new content will take to create
  • Estimate the resource requirements and key dates/milestones and identify risks
  • Establish tools, templates, editorial guidelines, and other documents
  • Define Sign-off processes and management

Step Three: Content loading, building and launching your new website

  • Define Taxonomies/naming conventions for content
  • Understand your new CMS and get training if required
  • Define workflow, equipment, project area/ room, tools, resources needed
  • Define sign-off management
  • Set up and manage redirects and SEO tasks
  • Establish archiving of old content
  • Transition to BAU – change management and user adoption.

At Datacom we typically run information architecture as a separate task and then merge with the content audit findings to ensure we have captured everything in the new IA and identified any content gaps. We also kick content off at the same time as design and development. This way what we learn from the audit process can be fed into the design process.

Design and content must run hand in hand. To make a real impact on your customers and get them to buy, content must be treated as king.

Trudy Evans is a User Experience Analyst for Datacom Auckland.

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