2019 DX Trends Report: Tech Investments, Preferred Partners, and Pendulum Swings

2019 DX Trends Report: Tech Investments, Preferred Partners, and Pendulum Swings

The term “Digital Transformation” (DX) can be quite vague meaning different things to different companies, and recently it has come under fire with reports of failure rates as high as 70-80% and $400 billion wasted in transformation failures. And yet, embarking on a DX journey is considered necessary for most enterprises to achieve continued market competitiveness. So what’s the secret to success?

A new study is helping shed some light on the technology investments needed to catalyze IT evolution in enterprise technology environments. Evaluating DX market trends, Webtorials surveyed IT professionals from companies both large and small across 35 different countries and a variety of industries. Here are the biggest takeaways from the research.

DX: Imperative and Ranking Alongside CEX Improvement

Digital transformation is indeed important, as most companies see digital transformation as being imperative for survival.

  • ★ 78% of survey respondents said their primary industry is evolving, so transformation is needed for survival.
  • ★ Essentially tied with “Improve Customer Experience,” DX is among the top two strategic priorities for the majority of respondents.

The study evaluated the importance of DX as relative to other top-of-mind priorities and found that it ranks second, missing first place only by a mere fraction. Essentially tied with improving customer experience, DX clearly outranked both increasing revenue and productivity cost savings.

Exactly How Important is Digital Transformation?

The Takeaway: Digital transformation initiatives and a better customer experience go hand in glove.

Budgets and Lack of Executive Support Pose Challenges

Budgets and executives appear to be the biggest challenges for DX, according to the survey.

  • ★ The biggest hurdles to digital transformation initiatives are seen as commitment of budget and top-down support. These challenges were followed by in-house skills, resources, and expertise, among others.

The full report stated, "It’s a bit surprising that executive leadership support and understanding ranks as a top challenge, especially considering the ‘big picture’ nature of digital transformation."

The Takeaway: The necessary budget allocation and executive buy-in requires more internal promotion, alignment as a strategic initiative, and prioritization.

External Help is Needed and the Preferred Partners Might Surprise You

Where are enterprises prepared and where do they need the most DX help?

  • ★ 64% of respondents need significant help from outside partners to support digital transformation.

The lack of skills, resources, and expertise was identified earlier as the third major challenge in successfully undertaking a DX initiative. Here, the survey confirms that finding with the fact that only 36% report having the necessary expertise in-house. This means that most enterprises are looking for outside support, but who do they see as best suited as a transformational partner?

  • ★ 57% of respondents said their preferred partners for transformation are smaller, agile service providers.

“The implication here, which could be argued, is that the larger service providers are seen as being rather inflexible while the smaller service providers are able to provide more customized services,” the report concluded.

This finding echoes similar conclusions in the 2019 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Network Services, Global, which found that enterprises are increasingly willing to consider smaller providers and managed service partners.

Here at Masergy, we believe this combined evidence is further proof that a significant shift has occurred--IT leaders have elevated agility to the top of their needs list and placed it on par with leading criteria such as network performance and reliability. As such, nimble partners are recognized as key enablers for DX.

The Takeaway: You likely can’t go at digital transformation alone, and your best bet is smaller, more nimble players who deliver IT agility.

Preferred Digital Transformation Partners

Technology Investments: Cloud Migration, Security, AI, IoT

Where do IT leaders target their DX technology investments?

  • ★ The investments in technology to support digital transformation are focused on migrating to the cloud for IT functions and security, plus a significant emphasis on groundbreaking technologies like artificial intelligence, big data and IoT.

These findings are similar to a recent Ovum report, which explains that in terms of DX the majority of CIOs have cleared the first hurdle of moving IT infrastructure to virtualized platforms, and they now need to transition to fully managed, virtualized applications, and cloud service platforms.

Pendulum Swings Point to Service-Centric IT and Strategic Partnerships

Webtorials threads an insightful observation throughout the study. Many findings reinforce the idea that the pendulum is now swinging back toward the service-oriented model. As IT professionals have witnessed over the decades, the industry has gone from the years when the entire telecommunications network was delivered by the carrier or service provider to an age of do-it-all-yourself and now that pendulum is swinging back again.

The Takeaway: Today, enterprises are returning to the age of service-centric networking, where providers are critical.

Other reports agree. Take for instance a recent EMA report, which found that 90% of enterprise network teams indicated that they need an end-to-end management environment that covers WAN networking. Much like expanding responsibilities of cybersecurity monitoring and threat response, enterprises are finding it harder and harder to manage the entire WAN environment themselves. As a result, IT and networking continues to move from an internal enterprise-centric focus to a service-centric model.

The Takeaway: Rather than point solutions, enterprises need comprehensive partners with a plethora of expertise and offerings spanning the IT landscape.

Conclusion

The results reveal critical mindshifts, technology investments, and the types of partnerships that maximize DX success. Here are the survey takeaways in summary:

  • DX is not only important but imperative for survival, and important relative to everything else the organization is working on.
  • Expected benefits are led by enhancing customer experience, remaining competitive, and streamlining business processes.
  • The biggest hurdles are seen as commitment of budget and top-down support, indicating a need for more internal promotion.
  • Most need significant help from outside partners, continuing the trend of networking moving from an internal, enterprise-centric focus to a service-centric focus.
  • More companies prefer working smaller service providers than with larger traditional carriers.
  • DX investments are focused on migrating to the cloud for IT functions, with emphasis on groundbreaking technologies like AI, big data and IoT.

About Ray Watson

VP, Technology, Masergy
Ray Watson is VP of Global Technology at Masergy. He brings over 17 years of expertise in IT strategy, application solution design and next-generation network architectures. Ray has enabled numerous global enterprises in transforming their IT infrastructures to guarantee business outcomes. Ray is an industry thought leader in IT transformation and is a frequent speaker on topics such as hybrid networking, SDN, NFV, cloud connectivity and advanced security. Prior to joining Masergy, Ray worked at Airband Communications and Broadwing Communications. He holds a B.S. from Purdue University.

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