Avoid the legacy versus digitalisation trap

Automation needs to bridge systems and business processes, as technology needs to be positioned properly to deliver consistent outcomes.
Ethan Searle
By Ethan Searle, Business development director, LanDynamix.
Johannesburg, 22 Nov 2023
Ethan Searle, business development director, LanDynamix.
Ethan Searle, business development director, LanDynamix.

If you are evaluating the best value proposition for your business, then you are already moving away from the real legacy trap − which is thinking you have the problem of old technology, when in fact it is a business problem.

When examining issues like digitalising the company, consider the possible benefits of automation versus manual − the latter removes the mundane and introduction of the former frees up time for people to add value.

Look at sales teams, for example; people need to interact with customers in the field and not be bogged down with admin that could be automated. Automating just one aspect of a business − in this case, sales − is not recommended.

Automation is all about enhanced efficiencies, but is also about enabling scope for deploying valuable human resources to add greater value. It is important to note that initial costs incurred on implementing automation and upskilling staff on new systems are just that − initial expenses only, which will, with time, dwindle.

If the business is armed with the correct automation weapons that can help it to reap competitive-edge through data insights, the value can be immense.

What will not abate are the benefits the business will continue to accrue. In the long run, initial costs will be more than justified by a reduced salary bill thanks to the more productive use of existing resources and enhanced sales being driven by a workforce focused on servicing customers.

Automation needs to bridge systems and business processes so that, in the case of a sales example, once a deal is closed, the same information can be pulled into the billing and CRM systems without the need to capture it twice. This approach eliminates silos and improves the customer experience, which in turn leads to greater business efficiencies.

Data provides insight

Another example of moving away from viewing technology as an isolated issue is by looking at the role of data in the business. Without the appropriate tools that enable the company to mine it, it is of no value.

But if the business is armed with the correct automation weapons that can help it to reap competitive-edge through data insights, the value can be immense.

In today's digital age, businesses collect vast amounts of data from different sources, including customer interactions, sales, social media interactions, website visits and more.

When this information is correctly analysed and interpreted, it can drive informed decision-making, improve operational efficiencies, enhance customer experiences and ultimately lead to better business outcomes.

Sales can be positively impacted through gaining a deep understanding of customer preferences, behaviours and trends.

By analysing customers' interactions and purchase history, businesses can identify patterns relating to the popularity of products or services, when and how customers make purchases, and what factors influence their decisions.

Data provides these insights that are gold for sales teams but can only be achieved through use of the latest digital technologies. The bottom line is the company needs to digitise processes if it is to remain competitive and grow.

Technology needs to be positioned properly within the business landscape if it is to deliver consistent outcomes. For example, data analysis helps businesses identify the pain points in the customer journey, and by addressing these issues, they can enhance the overall experience and build stronger relationships with clients.

It's important to understand that deriving meaningful insights from data requires a combination of technological tools, skilled data analysts, and above all, a clear understanding of business goals.

So, after investing in upgrading business tools, the next major consideration is to secure it. I'm not going to go into the nuts and bolts of implementing a strong cyber security solution, I will rather focus on the different ways in which this can be achieved.

There are various ways of tackling security but again approach it from the business perspective and what is the best cost and efficiency fit. Options include outsourcing to a managed services provider or hiring internal security/IT people − expensive and often difficult to find the necessary skills.

The benefits attached to deploying a managed services model are numerous, not least of which is that the company can opt for an as-a-service payment model, paying only for what is used. This can include security services, software-as-a-service and hardware-as-a-service. This can be a very attractive cost proposition for any organisation.

Managed services can be customised to include other components of IT, such as hardware, data backup, recovery and management, network monitoring, HR, cyber security and payroll.

The managed services option moves to a fixed monthly cost, eliminating capex costs, as well as the other costs associated with buying, maintaining and supporting IT, including staffing. Moreover, a seasoned, reputable managed services provider can offer essential guidance through decisions that are taken with a holistic view of what is best for the business.

Digital transformation is not just about moving everything to the cloud − this must be approached with caution because its total cost of ownership can soar, and it is not suitable for all business models. A seasoned managed services provider can provide essential guidance to ensure the right technology direction is taken.

A reputable managed services provider will also have an established programme of continuous improvement in place − a huge benefit to the client organisation.

Finally, it is incontrovertible that the more digitalised a business is, the better able it is to adapt rapidly to a volatile and highly-competitive business environment.