How the crisis has accelerated internal digital transformation

Digital transformation (also DX or DT) leverages technologies
Crisis has Accelerated Digital
On March 17, confinement entered into force in France. Companies were forced in this context to organize remote work for their employees. The best prepared took a few days to adapt to these new conditions. Not all organizations were ready, technologically and culturally, to switch to this configuration.

They therefore had to operate an internal digital transformation in record time, where DSI and CDO had so far been able to meet resistance. For Vice President Digital Business Innovations at PAC, Olivier Rafal, undeniably, "we never innovate as well as under duress".

Awareness of internal digital

The crisis has played a revealing role in companies that have invested in agile cloud-based platforms and collaborative tools. They were able to quickly put in place the necessary procedures, including teleworking,” he said.

For other companies, the transition to an era of confinement has proved more delicate. Whether in their culture or their IT infrastructures, they have not benefited from comparable agility, for lack of investment. However, urgent developments have been a source of lessons learned.

Companies have had to develop new solutions and introduce generalized telework. And they’re realizing overall that these work patterns are working quite well. New methods, even business models, could emerge from this period of crisis,” says Olivier Rafal.

For the consultant of Abalon, specialist of the "digital workplace", Covid has clearly moved the lines on the internal digital. Christophe Coupez even speaks of «slap» for these companies where the subject of telework was often considered «taboo».

“A DSI explained to me that I made more progress in a few days on telework than in ten years of talking,” he says. For these societies, however, it was necessary to make urgent progress on tools, "already a serious problem", but also on approaches to teleworking.

Video conferencing, the big winner of the crisis

The adoption of some market solutions such as Microsoft Teams or Zoom in the field of video conferencing reflects this sudden adaptation. Many companies have subscribed to collaborative tools, remote access and security, confirms the firm PAC. Not all of them will be sustainable after that.

There will nevertheless be a before and an after. New crises could arise. If it was acceptable during the Covid not to be prepared, it will not be at all at the next crisis. We need to think about the resilience of our information system, but also about mobility and security,” warns the consultant.

The subscription to cloud software, especially for video conferencing, exploded during the confinement. The Engie infrastructure director confirmed this during a webinar in early May. The number of daily users has increased tenfold in the company. Supplier figures attest to this.

At the end of April, for example, MS Teams had more than 75 million active users per day. Zoom exceeded 300 million. The use of video conferencing is not proof of a successful digital transformation, warns Christophe Coupez.

The digital transformation is not just about deploying Teams, and especially about video conferencing. It’s much deeper. This affects the organization, the managerial culture, the relationships between teams, etc. The crisis was first used to demonstrate the importance of having a tool on the cloud to get rid of an infrastructure.”

Tools do not make the digital transformation

Indeed, the Abalon consultant often notes that the uses remain limited to certain functionalities only and do not care about good practices. Microsoft’s application can sometimes be used as a simple alternative to a file server.

The real indicator for assessing the adoption of Teams is the drastic drop in the number of e-mails exchanged internally combined with the increase in Team publications. If you only have an increase in visios, without an increase in posts combined with a decrease in emails, then there is not really a change in habits», he insists.

Christophe Coupez believes that the end of the confinement could lead to a return to the old digital practices for lack of accompaniment on the uses or because of bad experiences. The Covid crisis made it clear that the Cloud was needed, but not the rest,” he added.

The post-confinement should therefore be devoted to governance work in order to structure the use of applications deployed at the beginning of the crisis. Companies wishing to go further than videoconferencing will be waiting for support to really take these new tools.

However, Olivier Rafal points out that organizations will have to make budgetary choices. The firm anticipates a decrease in IT spending in 2020 of between 3 and 12%. «A number of strategic choices will have to be made in companies», with likely effects on the equipment.

“Even though everyone is well aware of the need to review this IT equipment, the budgetary constraints are very real (…) The new working methods are to ensure the resilience of companies and meet the expectations of employees, but it doesn’t create value immediately,” concludes the AHRC Vice President.

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