Five-Steps to a Successful Digital Transformation

5 Steps to a Successful Digital Transformation

A successful digital transmission adoption depends on having a sound strategy. Businesses that have successfully embraced digital transformation don’t just adopt individual technologies to solve their problems. More often than not, they have a defined strategy with clear objectives to guide the transformation of their overall business.

What follows are five steps, that when mapped out and implemented properly, will help you develop a successful digital transformation strategy for your business that will reap benefits almost immediately.

1. What is Your Digital Transformation Objective?

When adopting new technologies, there are two missteps that businesses often make. First, they look to embrace technologies currently in use in other departments within their company, or even look to an application currently in use by a competitor. Second, they look to improve their capabilities without giving any thought to specific goals or problem areas that they want to be solved. So, in effect, they may still be spinning their wheels because it’s not solving their current isolated and siloed company-wide technology issues, making it even more difficult to integrate and scale in the future.

The better way is to start by defining what you want your business to accomplish through digital transformation. Define what a successful digital transformation means for your overall business and for your customers. And make sure that includes what would make for better customer engagements and experiences. By establishing these objectives, your business can adopt the right technologies, keeping a clear focus on improving the overall business, instead of just individual processes. Not only does this help in developing a comprehensive strategy that involves and transforms the entire business, but it also avoids the siloed adoption of technologies, including disconnected legacy systems and unorganized databases.

Defining the overall objective is the most important step in developing your digital transformation strategy. It aligns and drives transformation at every level of the business, even reaching the customers, enabling you to create a lasting competitive advantage. In addition, it provides a reference point for assessing and determining specific actions to take and initiatives to act upon in the transformation process.

2. Design Your Customer and Employee Experience

With defining your objectives behind you, it’s now time to focus on designing the experience you envision for your customers and employees. Remember, a proper digital transformation prioritizes and values user experiences as much as it adds and introduces new functions and capabilities. So, instead of only focusing on the requirements of new solutions and the constraints of your current technologies, your business also needs to focus on the experiences you want to provide your end-users.

For this step, your overall transformation objectives should be mapped out as specific and detailed goals. These goals should include how a staff member’s work can be streamlined via new software, applications, or functionalities. For customers, goals should be focused on things such as making a better shopping experience through your website or mobile app. And don’t forget to include ways your staff members can better collaborate, engage, and interact not only with each other but with your customers through your new digital platforms and technologies.

3. Evaluate Your Current Technologies

In the first two steps, we talked about where your business wants to be and what you want to achieve through digital transformation. The next step will be a hard look at where you currently are and gives you an idea of where your business started in its journey and the gaps that need to be filled.

In this third step, take stock of your company’s existing software, applications, and technologies. You have to determine, based on the objectives you established and the design you’ve created, which specific technologies need to stay active, upgraded, automated, or discontinued.

The goal in this step is to match the technologies with the outcomes they deliver and the problems they solve. This can help prioritize the technologies that will be updated in your digital transformation and align them with the objectives and the desired experience. It can also help determine the integration solutions your business needs to bring together siloed and disparate systems.

4. Your Solutions and Partners

Step four in your digital transformation strategy is centered on assessing and selecting possible solutions to meet your established objectives, your desired staff and customer experiences, and filling in the gaps of your existing technologies.

If you don’t have the internal capabilities to make your digital transformation upgrades and need to outsource your solution, this step’s main requirement is that you complete a careful and thorough review of possible solutions and offerings from different vendors. In addition to the capabilities and functionalities of the solutions a vendor can offer, they should also have a proven track record and should be flexible to work with. The vendor also needs to be able to provide the necessary post-sales support without delay. It’s not out of the question that problems could arise after the development and implementation of your chosen solution.

You may also want to consider creating a comparison chart of solutions and vendors. Think of it as an objective tool in your quest for making an informed choice.

5. The Digital Transformation Implementation Timeline

The fifth and final step in your digital transformation plan assembles the overall business objectives, desired experiences, existing technologies, and possible solutions together and consolidates them into an actionable plan. A digital transformation initiative takes time and resources, both human and financial, thus the reason it is often done in stages. It is critical to carefully plan when each action — such as a technology assessment or a vendor meeting — should be taken to ensure that human and capital resources are available.

Your implementation timeline will also give all stakeholders, from C-suite executives to staff members and customers, a much-needed heads-up to generate support for the digital transformation initiative while minimizing disruptions to your business operations. A digital transformation project, like any other business project, requires continuous support from every corner of the organization to ensure its success.

Finally, an implementation timeline provides your business with a benchmark it can use to compare actual results with planned results. It also aids the project leaders in managing and governing the project.

By following these simple, but important steps outlined above, your business will be well on its way to developing a successful and seamless digital transformation strategy.

At Ad Victoriam Solutions, our consulting team helps companies with their digital transformation strategies every single day, and every step of the way. Our certified experts learn your business, connect your data, then help your company deliver the type of customer experience that taps into the preferences of your modern customer. Let’s put a plan together today!

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It’s the Best Time for Digital Transformation – Here’s Why

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It’s the Best Time for Digital Transformation: Here’s Why

It's the Best Time for Digital Transformation - Here's Why

If you have been struggling recently with taking on the challenges that come with committing to a digital transformation for your company, perhaps now – during these challenging times – is the best time to pull the trigger.

The goal is simple. Set your company up for the economic rebound we all know will happen and be ready to unlock much-needed productivity gains, significantly create a competitive advantage, and at the same time deliver a better, exceptional customer experience.

So, if that describes where you currently are with undertaking a digital transformation for your company, let’s remind you of the numerous benefits you’ll derive from doing one, starting with these six:

1. Better Customer Experience

Technology advancements have helped companies to better interact with their customers, resulting in consistency for ensuring customer needs are met in a timely manner.

2. Employee Empowerment

With more and more companies going the digital transformation route, employees are embracing the need to update their skill sets to stay competitive. Companies also reap the benefits of better communication within departments and improved quality of work.

3. Promotes a Digital Culture

It is said that creativity leads to innovation and continuous employee learning in changing digital environments helps to develop that culture. And that promotes employees staying motivated and agile at all times.

4. Enhanced Data Collection and Analysis

With a digital transformation, the data collection and analysis process becomes easier to monitor your customer data, allowing you to make better business decisions.

5. Profits, Profits, Profits

Improving your customer experiences and engagements through digital transformation leads to loyalty. And that, in turn, makes customers stick with your company for more deals. In addition, you are opening your company to new sales channels and markets.

6. Stay Competitive

Make no mistake about it, your competition is transforming into a digital business. Your taking on a digital transformation will enable your company to remain competitive. It also ensures that you not only survive but thrive and outpace your competition now and well into the future.

At Ad Victoriam Solutions, our virtual consulting team helps companies with their digital transformation strategies every single day, and every step of the way. Our certified experts learn your business, connect your data, then help your company deliver the type of customer experience that taps into the preferences of your modern customer. Let’s put a plan together today. Just fill out the form below, or click here.

 

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Moving Your Business Forward with Managed Services

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8 Benefits of Moving to the Cloud

8 Benefits of Moving to the Cloud

With the cloud, end-users and your teams are able to access software and applications from wherever they are, using the device of their choice. They can work from anywhere.

If your business has yet to tap into the power of the cloud, these eight benefits of cloud computing should change your mind.

Reduce Expenditures, Increase Efficiencies

Migrating to the cloud reduces – and in many cases – eliminates the need for your business to purchase equipment and operate out of a data center. Now, you are seeing significant savings on hardware, facilities, utilities, and other expenses required from traditional computing. You will also reduce the need for on-site servers and expensive software, trimming your IT budget further.

Flexibility

The cloud gives you and your employees the flexibility to work from any location. Employees can complete their tasks at home or from the field. This is particularly valuable in an era when employees desire flexibility in their schedules and work environment. You can also reduce the number of workstations in your office and allow some employees to work from home, further saving costs.

Increase Collaboration

Cloud-based workflow and file-sharing applications give your teams the ability to work together more easily and efficiently. Employees can make real-time updates, see what other team members are doing and communicate effectively. This level of collaboration speeds up projects and improves customer service.

Disaster Recovery

Hosting systems and storing documents on the cloud provides a safeguard in case of a disaster. Man-made and natural disasters can damage equipment, shut off power and paralyze critical IT functions. Supporting disaster recovery efforts is one of the important advantages companies attain when they move to the cloud.

Data Security

It’s just a fact that storing data on the cloud is safer than storing it on physical servers and in data centers. Think of it this way, a breach of security on your premises can lead to compromised data security if laptops or computers are lost or stolen. However, if you have data on the cloud, you can immediately delete any confidential information remotely or move it elsewhere. It’s also a fact that breaching security protocols on cloud platforms is difficult.

Document Control

The more your employees and partners collaborate on documents, the greater the need for tight document control. Prior to the cloud, you and your employees sent files back and forth as email attachments to be worked on by one user at a time. More often than not, that ended as a mess of conflicting file content, formats and titles. However, when you move your business tasks to the cloud, all files are stored centrally and everyone sees the one up-to-date, true version of the file or document.

Automatic Software Updates

With your servers off-site and in the cloud, your hosts take care of them for you by taking charge of regular software updates – including security updates – so you don’t have to worry about wasting time maintaining the system yourself. That leaves you free to focus on the things that matter, like growing your business.

Compliance Needs

If your industry, for instance, is healthcare or financial services, ensuring data compliance is essential for your business. Moving operations to the cloud ensures that your business is using cloud-based tools and services that are already compliant, helping to remove some of the burdens of compliance from your IT team.

No doubt there are many more benefits of moving to the cloud that are not listed here, but these are some of the big ones.

Ad Victoriam has helped bring big changes to businesses all across the country. Contact us today to learn how we can help your business migrate to the cloud with little-to-no impact on daily operations, but a serious boost to your bottom line.

 

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Salesforce Heroku: A Mobile App Developer’s “Easy” Button

salesforce heroku for developers easy button

Developers have the difficult task of creating mobile apps that engage their customers or business partners.

Unfortunately, the road to get there can sometimes be plagued with many issues – from infrastructure and servers that can throw off your focus to internal organizational hoops, developers have to jump through to make everyone happy, resulting in a finished but sub-par product.

The good news is that this issue hasn’t gone unnoticed. Two forces combined to solve this problem: Salesforce Heroku.

Hold up…what’s Salesforce Heroku again?

Salesforce bought Heroku (a leading Ruby cloud application) in 2010 for a cool $212 million. In acquiring Heroku, Salesforce saw an opportunity to continue providing support for the next generation of app developers.

It is a cloud platform based on a managed container system. It allows companies to build, deliver, monitor and scale apps in open languages and frameworks…in record time.

How? Simply put:

Salesforce handles all of the technical details, giving developers more time to do what they get paid to do—deliver an amazing app.

The integration of Salesforce with Heroku enables companies to build apps that span both platforms.

Ways Heroku Helps Developers

  • Salesforce Heroku has an interface that’s easy for either developers or Salesforce business users to set up.
  • The program uses a variety of methods to integrate application data between Force.com and Heroku platforms.
  • It focuses on improving developer workflow.
  • It utilizes the leading open source database – Postgres – allowing you to focus more on building and less on database management.
  • Heroku allows you to automate the creation, maintenance and monitoring of sync operations.

This is just a snapshot of how Salesforce Heroku has elevated cloud computing and what it can do for your development process. To learn more, contact one of our knowledgeable staff at Ad Victoriam Solutions.

Compliance in the Cloud – HIPAA

compliance word cloud: Ad Victoriam Solutions Cloud Strategy blog

Today many companies are looking to move their applications and workflows to the Cloud in order to realize benefits such as minimizing cost, reducing IT overhead, and enterprise scalability.

Some of these solutions are required to maintain compliance with HIPAA, which creates concern when hosting in a public cloud platform such as AWS or Microsoft Azure. The good news is that both of these major public cloud providers have solutions for applications that require this sort of compliance.

Solutions that handle Protected Health Information (PHI) must maintain HIPAA compliance and are required to manage a number of safeguards at the administrative, technical, and physical levels. Some examples of these safeguards include:

  • Administrative
    • Privacy Officer Assignment
    • Annual Risk Assessments
    • Policies and Procedures
    • Employee Training
    • Establish a Business Associate Agreement (BAA) with all partners involved
  •  Technical
    • Transmission Security
    • Access Control
    • Auditing
  • Physical
    • Facility Access Controls
    • Workstation compliance
    • Device and Media handling

Typically, administrative safeguards are handled when a company accesses the PHI, technical controls are handled by the applications that manage this data, and physical safeguards are handled by parties that have physical access to the infrastructure.

Next, we will look at how AWS and Azure provide a platform to host HIPAA compliant applications as each provider meets HIPAA compliance at the Physical level.

AWS is a large player in the public cloud platform sector, and it provides the mechanisms to host a HIPAA compliant solution. AWS does provide a Business Associate Agreement (BAA) by request, but requires that you host your application in dedicated instances. Dedicated instances are costlier than shared instances, but guarantee that your VM is isolated and does not share resources with other VMs. Also, AWS requires that a VPC must be employed, and that their S3 and EBS services should be used to process and store PHI. Applications are required to handle encryption of the data in transit, auditing, and access controls.

Azure is another large public cloud platform, and also provides the ability to host a HIPAA compliant solution. Azure provides a BAA to all customers that are part of their Microsoft Online Subscription program, which is essentially any customer that is part of their Pay-as-you-go or Volume License agreements. Azure also provides HIPAA compliance for most of their Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) offerings, such as Azure SQL Database, Azure Service Bus, and Azure Cloud Services. This creates an advantage when hosting HIPAA compliant solutions in Azure, as their BAA covers most of their IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS offerings. As with AWS, Azure requires that the applications handle certain measures such as encryption, auditing, and access controls.

AWS and Azure, the top two public cloud platforms, each provide a solution to host a HIPAA compliant solution. Each certify their solutions at the physical level, and require the customer to handle compliance at the administrative and technical levels. As such, certain architectures and security measures should be used to ensure that the application meets HIPAA compliance.

For more information on how you can host your HIPAA application in the cloud, please reach out to Ad Victoriam solutions.

5 Tips for Creating an Awesome Documentation Process

Documentation Process

Let’s be honest…documentation is kind of a drag. The reality is that documenting a process for Salesforce, big data or IoT can be a daunting task, but more importantly, a necessary evil. Here are some tips I have for becoming a self-proclaimed documentation ROCKSTAR!

Tip #1 – Create a standard naming convention to use for all documents.

Creating a naming convention that is both descriptive and consistent will save users time and frustration when searching for the right document. There isn’t a single right way to name user guides, but developing a system that works for your business is the first step to documentation bliss.

Example: [Company Name] – [Short Description] – [Date (YYYY-MM-DD)]

Tip #2 – Add a descriptive header to each document.

Tell your readers key information at the top of your page by highlighting the topic, date created, version number and author. This will allow for an easy view of the document specs at first glance.

awesome-process-documentation

Tip #3 – Provide users with a high-level visual summary of your documentation process.

According to Hubspot, 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than text.

By providing your audience with a visual summary, you can highlight the high-level process before diving into the meat and potatoes. Tools like Lucid Chart allow you to easily create charts and graphs to include in your fabulous documentation.

 decision-maker

Now this is the part where things get REAL…

Tip #4 Provide a clear, informational, concise guide to success.

The most important component of process documentation is a clearly, defined outline of the steps it takes to achieve success. This section should be informational, concise and easy to follow. When working on this section, I like to start by setting the stage for the actual business process – readers will be able to better follow your instruction with a real-life example.

Start with numbering each step and write down the WWWWWH (Who, What, When, Where, Why, How) for EACH step.

Keys to Success: Assume your reader has no knowledge of your current system and/or process. Walk through a real-life example and use images to continue with including visuals as described in the third tip.

Tip #5 Provide a resource for readers to get more information.

And finally, it is always a good practice to include a source for more information. Whether it is a link to a webpage, a help video or an email address, let your users know where they can find more information and ask any questions that might arise.

 

That’s all there is to it! Follow these 5 tips to turn your documentation process from awful to awesome. If you’d like more information on how to better manage your company’s Salesforce, big data or IoT documentation, feel free to reach out to the expert cloud solutions team at Ad Victoriam Solutions.

Salesforce Shows Resilience in the Cloud Computing World

In recent months, a market-wide stock selloff has occurred amongst cloud computing companies, and the results have hit hard. Even big name companies like Salesforce felt the burn.

It is speculated that one the reasons for this downward trend is that investors who want to find havens for their companies don’t typically make plays that are considered “richly valued,” leading to cases that don’t always have a positive cash flow.

Salesforce’s stock was down by more than 20% until the release of fourth-quarter numbers. These numbers showed, according to the Wall Street Journal, that Salesforce has “benefits of both scale and maturity that the company brings to a space that is still in its adolescence.”

The company’s billings—a key metrics-based system for measuring invoices during a given quarter among cloud companies—increased by roughly 28% yearly to upwards of $3.3 billion. This number is 7% higher than the 21% that analysts expected. Furthermore, the flow of free cash increased by 50% for the fiscal year.

Salesforce didn’t achieve these kinds of results by playing it safe, nor is this amount of growth cheap. Roughly half of Salesforce’s revenue for sales and marketing is still expended. This level hasn’t changed in at least the last decade. Moreover, they also provide employees with such generous access to stock options that actual profits haven’t been indicated for the last 5 years.

Salesforce’s recent metrics make the company appear highly valued compared to its peers—Salesforce stock trades for nearly 29 times the amount of its free cash flow. This statistic falls below some smaller peers, while rising above some of the larger companies in the enterprise software sector.

All of this boils down to indicate that Salesforce can’t ease up its effort. Experts suggest that the company needs to work hard to hit aggressive growth targets. Over the next several years, the Wall Street Journal expects an annual growth of 20%, whereas some larger enterprise-tech companies may continue to have single-digit growth.

The success of Salesforce is great news for businesses that use the cloud computing company’s products. Continued growth almost certain means improved features and functionality that expand Salesforce’s offerings.

If you would like to learn more about Salesforce and how its cloud computing products can be integrated seamlessly with your existing operations, we invite you to contact the Salesforce certified consultants at Ad Victoriam Solutions.

IoT Data Making Big Data Look Small

IOT Data

As the price of technology continues to level off, it’s likely we’ll continue to see an increase in objects that users want connected to the internet. This flood of internet-connected devices will lead to even more information pouring into the system—and the kicker is, experts haven’t even begun to comprehend what to do with all of this information yet, especially IOT data.

While more companies are embracing the importance of data analysis, they aren’t necessarily equipped to handle this influx of information. Not only do companies have to filter through the information they normally collect, but now they have to handle all of the information generated both inside and outside of their companies.

Some of the biggest names in the technology world recently met in San Francisco for Structure Data 2016. According to its website, Structure Data “is bringing together the world’s top computer scientists, software executives and business users to discuss how advances in data technology are already reshaping our world.”

Not surprisingly, one of the topics of discussion centered on the next big problem companies are likely to face in terms of the IoT, including:

  • The information generated by devices inside users’ homes
  • The impact the manufacturing sector is likely to feel from increased industrial internet
  • The challenges healthcare will likely face from baby boomers retiring and an influx of self-health apps

The source of these problems stems from how data analysis works. Prior to the IoT boom, once a problem was deduced, a data set was drawn up and loaded into software that analyzes the information. However, the data derived from IoT devices will easily overwhelm this kind of system. Unfortunately, many engineers are stuck in their old habits of how they’ve built data infrastructures in the past, which is unlikely to work for the potential IoT data of the future.

This means that opportunities abound for technological advancements as well as for analysis companies, developers, data scientists and engineers to break into the world of the IoT. While this may give the impression that there are not players in the IoT data game already, in actuality some big IoT players are already hard at work.

For more information about the leveraging the Internet of Things for your business, contact the IoT consultants at Ad Victoriam Solutions. Based in Atlanta, we provide innovative and effective technology solutions for businesses all over the country. Speak to an IoT professional today. 

Facing the Facts: IoT Security Concerns and Solutions

The Internet of Things is without a doubt one of the most influential tools businesses can use to gather useful data and information, allowing for smarter business decisions and improved services for customers. However, as Uncle Ben said in the Spiderman movies: “With great power comes great responsibility” – especially when it comes to securing the Internet of Things from hackers and cyber threats.

Here’s a look at the security concerns associated with the IoT and what solutions businesses are providing to protect cloud devices from fraud.

The Problems

The most obvious weakness for the IoT is its massive size. Billions of objects have Internet capabilities, and that number is growing every single day. With more avenues for penetration comes the growing risk of breaching the security measures in place. Security threats are also easily projected onto the types of devices often associated with the IoT: smart appliances, home security systems or fitness trackers. These devices are not outfitted with proper security software, leaving them more vulnerable to threats.

To add to this, the Internet of Things is so new that there is no real agreement as to how its security should be handled. What steps or programs should be put to use to protect not only the data but the privacy of the business and the public? This question, as of late, has hardly any answers.

Potential Solutions

While there is no consensus on a solution to the IoT’s security issues, there are certain steps that businesses, and in some cases the public, have been implementing themselves to secure data and privacy. They include:

  • Updating or finding new security software that may better cover IoT devices
  • Expanding networks and staff assigned to network security
  • Integrating security concerns into IoT product development
  • Informing staff and customers about the security risks associated with IoT use

Many desire a standardized, widespread security solution for the IoT, and this may become a reality in the future once more companies and individuals put investment dollars toward the research needed. Until then, the Internet of Things will continue to provide an abundance of useful data for businesses despite its security holes.

For more information about the Internet of Things and how it works hand-in-hand with businesses and expanding technologies, check out our blog or talk to one of our professional IoT consultants today.

Major Players in the IoT Space, Pt. 4: A Review

If you’ve followed our “Major Players” series, you know that over the past few blog posts we’ve discussed new technologies and advancements that Salesforce®, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and Microsoft have made in relation to the Internet of Things, which keeps information easily accessible via devices that can communicate with the cloud.

While these three major players have developed different software and capabilities, all have the same goal of making communication in the Digital Age easier and more efficient while also providing the means for further growth.

Listed below are some of the features that are allowing businesses and individuals to accomplish just that.

Wide Compatibility

Each of our major players offers extensive compatibility with Internet of Things technologies. Salesforce®’s IoT Cloud has the ability to connect instantly to all other employed Salesforce® platforms and programs and transfer data in real-time. That data is not limited to specific devices and can be accessed anywhere the Internet is available, giving an unmatched convenience.

Similarly, Amazon boasts the wide support of “billions of devices and trillions of messages,” meaning that efficient communication is available across devices and across the entire span of the Internet within seconds. The IoT devices are also tracked and managed through AWS apps for efficient action and communication.

Efficient Data

Another high point from these three companies is their ability to harness the data provided by the IoT and channel it into the productivity that businesses need to thrive in the Digital Age. As shown in the scenarios in Part 2 of our series, Microsoft provides users not only the ability to receive data in a timely manner, but also an efficient means to employ that data – whether that be through tracking and adjusting refrigeration temperatures or product availability. Likewise, Salesforce® offers a means for businesses to organize all of the data received from the Internet of Things, making studying and acting on that data a more timely process.

User Control

With the ability to manage and utilize piles and piles of IoT data comes the capacity for administrators to control settings and security for their cloud-compatible devices and information. AWS provides its users with state-of-the-art security measures needed for such large amounts of data, including encryption checkpoints and device security measures to ensure authenticity. AWS also allows administrators to customize the rules for filtering data as they see fit for their needs.

As part of its IoT Business Maturity Model, Microsoft also believes in the importance of custom rule sets that allow the technology to be tailored to the individual user or business depending on their respective needs. As stated above, all is done in the name of utilizing data as efficiently as possible.

We hope you enjoyed this series! Be sure to check out the rest of Ad Victoriam’s blog for the latest in cloud-computing technology and how to employ it for your own service.

We are also available for contact if you would like more information about how we can help your business or employing these technologies.