What Digital Disruption Means in a Microsoft World
During this year’s Microsoft Ignite conference, Satya Nadella drove home the message of digital transformation, which is all about “reimagining how you bring together people, data, and processes to create value for your customers and maintain a competitive advantage in a digital-first world.”
However, with digital transformation comes digital disruption. Why? An increase in reliance on digital technologies demands the arduous task of adapting to them, and organizations need to properly acknowledge user adoption and training to thrive and grow.
The big question then is: How do organizations that have invested in the Microsoft technology stack achieve optimal efficiency? Let’s take a close look at what digital disruption means in a Microsoft world and see how it impacts communication technology.
Fig. 1: Satya Nadella’s slide from Microsoft Ignite 2017.
Is Digital Disruption Impacting Communication Technology?
According to a Microsoft survey conducted in 2017, up to 80% of business leaders believe they need to embrace digital transformation in order to succeed. With digital technology quickly pervading the business landscape and the way employees engage and collaborate, organizations need to readdress how they deliver solutions, whether it’s with multiple platforms, mixed realities, or other trends in human interface computing.
And with 52% more organizations now enabling an enterprise-wide digital strategy, digital disruption is at the cusp of redefining communication technology—and it’s not about to slow down. In addition to all of the innovative breakthroughs that we are witnessing lately (e.g. self-driving cars, quantum computing, etc.), the fourth industrial revolution is driving an incredible rate of change for businesses around the world.
So, in other words, yes, digital disruption is absolutely impacting communication technology. To understand how organizations are responding to digital disruption, we’ll unpack the common concerns that drive them to make an investment in digital transformation.
How Digital Disruption is Affecting Organizations
Think of digital disruption as the fine balance between success and failure. Whether an organization has the means to adopt new technologies or the drive to discover new workloads doesn’t nullify the inevitability of digital disruption. Unless organizations confront what digital transformation means for them, they will be forced to shift their existing workloads and technologies.
Here are a few examples of how digital disruption affects organizations:
Handling legacy applications while driving cloud adoption is quickly becoming a pendulum exercise for most IT departments, especially as they struggle with how to focus their efforts.
The mobile workforce invariably pushed the boundaries for Shadow IT, as users began to embrace the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) approach. Having corporate applications coexist with non-managed applications can pose a large security threat, as it opens up risk for data breaches, insider threats, and more.
Cloud app innovation
Users are relying more and more on cloud services and apps than ever before. As a result, organizations are not prepared to manage or build demanded cloud apps, leading to increased Shadow IT.
Similar to the above, organizations are unable to train their employees quick enough to stay up-to-date with the latest cloud advancements.
With regulations like the GDPR coming into implementation in 2018, organizations need to ensure that content stored on-premises or in the cloud is properly managed and protected.
Implementing a Viable Digital Transformation Strategy
Organizations may be impacted by digital disruption, but that doesn’t mean their roadmap to embracing digital transformation should be affected. If organizations are aiming to become more digital in order to achieve operational efficiency, manageability, and sustainability, the following priorities are essential.
Here are the key considerations that can enable organizations to implement a viable digital transformation strategy:
Providing customers with a truly immersive experience is vital to winning and retaining customers. Additionally, communicating end-to-end security also ensures customer trust, which is proportionate to their level of engagement.
Happy employees means happy customers. By empowering employees to work and collaborate from any device at any time, organizations can encourage more user productivity, thereby enabling higher quality performance.
By gathering measurable data points from incremental improvements, organizations can accelerate their decision-making processes and respond in real-time to changes in the industry.
With software becoming more and more transparent and ubiquitous to the consumer, organizations can embed technology directly into their product line to deliver higher value and services through the same channel.
The above priorities are crucial to implementing a viable digital transformation strategy, but what if your organization is incapable of delivering on its own terms? Fortunately, Microsoft’s vision for digital transformation addresses organizations that are likely to be impacted by digital disruption.
Specifically, digital disruption in a Microsoft world means organizations can enable digital transformation with less risk and compromise.
How Microsoft Enables Digital Transformation
Microsoft has been building cloud enablement at an enterprise scale for many years. In order to execute against the strategic imperatives of other organizations, let’s take a look at how Microsoft enables digital transformation across its core verticals.
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
With technology being capable of learning from and adapting to consumer engagements, shaping new “neural pathways” of cognitive behavior can foster a more comprehensive user experience.
Chat-based Information Management
As users move to more direct communication platforms with chat-based information management structures, content becomes less of an anchor point for interaction. Rather, by shifting the way users interact with content, organizations can enable better user communication around data objects.
Enterprise Content Management (ECM) as a strategy has been the focal point of how organizations implement Content Lifecycle Management (LCM) for over 20 years. Alternatively, Content Services purports that content is no longer stored centrally, but accurately managed across multiple repositories, thereby enabling users to freely collaborate across the cloud.
Intelligent Edge pertains to the ability to deliver data, applications, and intelligence to the users by way of natural user interfaces that foster innovation and growth. Essentially, it helps to optimize cloud computing systems by performing data processes near the source of the data.
Serverless computing enables organizations to break the chains that bind them to server management, application infrastructures, organizational scalability and security, patch management, and more.
Internet of Things
The Internet of Things (IoT) not only occupies trending conversations alongside big data, it allows organizations to source data points from across industries and everyday items to provide richer analytics. In a sense, it’s telemetry for the average Joe.
Mixed reality makes it possible to manipulate structures, change textures and colors, and add context to changes from the comfort of your digital environment. Organizations can integrate mixed reality to empower profound user collaboration on a global scale.
Digital Transformation via the Microsoft Tech Stack
Now that we’ve covered how Microsoft enables digital transformation, what are the next actionable steps for organizations that have already invested in the Microsoft ecosystem? Here is a fundamental list of currently available capabilities within the Microsoft tech stack that directly address digital transformation.
Azure is Microsoft’s all-encompassing Platform, Infrastructure, and Software-as-a-service offering to the world. It provides admins, developers, and organizations with a set of cloud services to design, build, deploy, and manage all aspects of Information and Communication Technology.
Through the use of Microsoft’s globally deployed data centers, organizations can provision platforms in minutes and scale solutions to support thousands of users, all while ensuring the highest levels of security and threat management.
Azure supports a host of industry solutions and products, outside of the standard Microsoft productset offerings, including:
- Azure Container Services
- Content Delivery Networks
- High performance computing
- Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive Services
Office 365 may have started as Microsoft’s Business Productivity Online Suite in 2005, but organizations can now provision a fully functioning environment that facilitates email, instant messaging, social networking, word processing, communication and conferencing, business intelligence, project management, and so on… in under an hour. Historically, providing similar functionalities on-premises would have taken the better part of a year.
With integrated products like Microsoft Teams, organizations can bridge the digital divide by connecting disparate teams that are spread across the globe. This helps organizations to enable their users to collaborate both effectively and efficiently, thereby ramping up resources to market services and products.
With over 20 different unifying technologies comprising the Office 365 suite, extracting trends and analytics across the spectrum is paramount to providing users with the right information at the right time.
Microsoft Graph is a set of APIs that interacts natively with the Microsoft product stack and provides organizations with the proverbial glue between silos of content storage, whether it is structured content in Microsoft Content or unstructured content in SharePoint Online.
Enterprise Mobility and Security
Microsoft 365 is an amalgamation of all Microsoft productivity sets in one easy to understand and consume offering. The offering comprises of Windows 10, Office 365, and Enterprise Mobility and Security.
With Enterprise Mobility and Security, organizations are able to:
- Manage identity and cloud access
- Provision identity driven security
- Protect content and information
- Manage mobile devices and applications
- Deliver virtualized experiences
By adding this layer of interaction, organizations can engage, interact, and safely conduct business security on any platform, ensuring that the trust between organization, employee, and customer is maintained throughout the lifespan of each entity.
Let’s face it: We live in an era of instant gratification, where people can access information anywhere, anytime, and on any device. However, with increasingly more user demand for immediacy, organizations have to adjust pace, step up production, and augment solutions based on consumer wants and needs.
However, by embracing digital transformation and the modern workplace, organizations can sidestep digital disruption to:
- Achieve operational efficiency
- Manage threat management
- Foster better B2B and B2C engagement
- Remain secure and compliant
- Develop rapid prototyping solutions
Microsoft is no longer a licensing and technology company. They have effectively transformed into a solutions business that provides organizations with a competitive edge that welcomes digital transformation. Digital disruption in a Microsoft world is all about embracing the right tools and strategizing how to effectively embrace a new business solution.
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Alistair Pugin is an Office Servers MVP based in Johannesburg, South Africa. He has worked in various capacities in multiple verticals spanning between 50 to 50,000 users utilizing all aspects of pure Enterprise Information Management. His current position provides him with a mechanism to assist companies with designing their Microsoft productivity stack using “best of breed” proven methodologies to foster innovation and growth through an ECM framework, while incorporating a Knowledge Management strategy. With this vision, he strives to provide customers with a platform for Business Productivity Enrichment, establishing communities of practice through proper analysis and building a knowledge economy that is both quantifiable and achievable.