Application Development

Digital Transformation is Not Dead

Digital transformation has been one of the biggest initiatives across every industry, and it’s still growing strong as evidenced at this month’s IDC Directions 2019 conference.

Sharon Bell

Mar 19, 2019

Today’s CIOs have a mandate to drive business innovation through a variety of digital transformation (DX) initiatives. Since the early ‘90s, enterprises have been realizing massive gains from digital technology. Now, enterprises are transforming their entire business to cloud and online platforms, enabling agile and innovative business processes, both internally with employees and externally with customers and partners.

At the IDC Directions 2019 conference in Santa Clara, Calif., keynote and session speakers said it loud and clear: digital transformation is not dead - it’s alive and well! In this digital era, data is a key strategic asset to an organization because every company today is a data company. In fact, IDC predicts that global spending on the technologies and services that enable DX is forecast to reach nearly $2 trillion in 2022. It’s clearly not just one event or an initiative but an ongoing process.

Throughout the decades, DX has been defined as the “application of digital technologies to fundamentally impact all aspects of business.” Twenty years ago, this encompassed now prevalent ideas, such as implementing a website, SaaS applications, and social media.

Today, IDC defines digital transformation as using data at the center of new business models in order to leverage third-party platform technologies, create new customer interactions, and optimize data-driven decision making. Organizations that fully adopt DX create a single integrated platform with an intelligent core that drives internal and external processes. When a business is able to successfully integrate data, actions, and insight, it can generate easy data movement inside and outside the enterprise, agile application development, and improved customer experiences.

From Islands of Innovation to Innovation at Scale

Many organizations have applied DX to specific use cases, where ROI is only achieved on a project-by-project basis, which IDC refers to as the “islands of innovation,” rather than a company-wide approach. Having a separate strategy for each line of business does not provide the overall business value to scale innovation and embrace digital transformation. Whereas taking an enterprise-wide approach fundamentally changes how you operate and deliver value to customers from all areas of the business.

IDC predicts only 35 percent of all production apps will be cloud-native by 2022. In many cases, moving the mass amount of enterprise data to the public cloud is the biggest blocker to realizing the benefits of agility, scalability, and extensibility that one gets with cloud infrastructure.

Digital transformation is not just about modernizing the IT infrastructure and application by moving to the cloud, but it’s about accelerating application development by adopting agile development methodologies.

Take Dentegra, the largest dental benefits systems in the U.S., as an example. As part of its long-term digital strategy, Dentegra needed to leverage the cloud to improve scalability and time to market across its application portfolio.

However, Dentegra faced a number of challenges: 1) dev/test environments in AWS were not complete with application data, 2) migrating data to the cloud was highly manual and slow, and 3) they needed to secure PII and PHI before moving data into AWS.

To solve these challenges, Dentegra implemented a hybrid cloud architecture using AWS and data platform that allowed them to collect data from their production applications and applied masking to protect confidential information. The masked data was replicated into AWS, and from their cloud-based instance, teams were able to instantly provision virtual, space-efficient data copies to dev/test environments running on AWS Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) instances, which dramatically decreased storage requirements.

As a result, teams were able to move data into the cloud in just a few hours from the original 8-week timeline. Dentegra was able to easily deliver new virtual data copies to a team of over 200 developers in just minutes with fresh, secure data available in the cloud. Through this platform-based approach and in concert with AWS, Dentegra was able to bring greater scalability and speed to development for their teams.

From Innovation at Scale to Leadership at Scale

Digital transformation is not only alive and well, it’s necessary for enterprises to take the next step that IDC describes as “leadership at scale,” which encompasses customer empathy, business insights, operations, and work models at scale. Successful enterprises embracing this concept will adopt a single integrated platform, enabling a cloud-based API strategy for data exchange across the ecosystem as well as agile application architecture and technologies that support new customer experiences. Fast and secure exchange of actionable enterprise data is at the core of this new single integrated platform paradigm.