Digital Transformation projects stalled in the UK (Image Credit: Gerd Altmann from Pixabay)Digital Transformation projects are stalling in the UK due to problems overcoming barriers to adoption or overwhelmed IT departments. That is the key message from NTT Ltd who has published its latest report today. The report titled: Mind the Hesitancy Gap, is based on a survey of 200 IT decision-makers in large enterprises. Vanson Bourne conducted it for Global Data Centers, part of NTT Ltd.

John Eland ,Chief Strategy Officer of Global Data Centres, NTT Ltd (Image Credit: LinkedIn)
John Eland ,Chief Strategy Officer of Global Data Centres, NTT Ltd

Commenting on the report, John Eland, Chief Strategy Officer of Global Data Centres, NTT Ltd, said: “In a rapidly evolving landscape, enterprises can’t afford to drag their feet on digital transformation, but it’s not surprising that many are feeling hesitant. The complexity of connecting a mix of cloud services and other technologies together, adds a significant challenge to overcome before transformation projects can turn into a reality.

“Adding further strain, there’s the risk that even just a Proof of Concept could have a negative impact on live production systems, leading to service failures that result in reputational or revenue damage. This is understandably causing enterprises concern, resulting in many projects falling behind and innovation to stagnate.”

Business doesn’t want to do this on its own

It is always easy to find those who have problems implementing new approaches to business. Sometimes it is down to resistance within the IT department and at others that resistance comes from the business itself.

With Digital Transformation, it seems the problem is more complicated than that, extending outside the organisation. Respondents estimated that building out partner ecosystems, cloud infrastructure and implementing connectivity cost them up to nine months per project.

The report claims that part of the issue with partner ecosystems is that they leave too much to the enterprise. It states that organisations are being forced to take a DIY approach to identify the right partners and technologies. That is nothing new for organisations, even those that work with the big System Integrators (SIs). It is not enough to just leave this to someone else because that runs a risk to the business.

Part of the problem are those complex relationships that enterprises want. Respondents identified four key relationships that they say digital transformation is strongly dependent upon:

  1. Multiple cloud service (65%)
  2. Reliable connectivity (59%
  3. Internal IT infrastructure (57%
  4. Co-located data (49%)

Taking all of this into account, 94% of respondents want full-scale production-ready environments. These would contain a mix of cloud services, partners and connections. Enterprises would simply drop their data and business processes in and hey presto, digital transformation.

What technologies are fundamental to digital transformation?

The survey calls out six technologies that the respondents see as key to digital transformation. There are no surprises in this list which includes:

  1. Artificial Intelligence (63%)
  2. IoT/edge computing (58%)
  3. Software-Defined Networks (51%)
  4. Blockchain (36%)
  5. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) (35%)
  6. XaaS (Everything as a Service) (31%)

Importantly, all of these are technologies where NTT has a significant investment. In addition, it has business units focused on cloud, data centres and communications. It is almost a year into the merger of the various companies that make up NTT Ltd. One of Jason Goodall’s (CEO, NTT Ltd) key talking points at the merger, was cross-selling of services and capabilities.

Enterprises still concerned about key risks

Even with the right ecosystem and a production-ready environment, there are other issues that organisations are concerned about. Top of this list is the risk that new digital capability could introduce a security risk or leave the company non-compliant with regulation (42%). With the shifting sands of legislation, this is a real problem. The area most affected here is data which is increasingly subject to privacy laws and the need for geo-fencing.

Investment, business interruption and the skills gap are issues at the best of times. When undergoing a digital transformation project, they are seen as blockers to success. Respondents are concerned that:

  • The need to provide significant upfront investment, before even trialling a new transformational concept (37%)
  • Limited access to the skills needed to run successful projects with emerging technology, such as AI and Blockchain (35%)
  • Concerns that a transformation project could lead to business disruption (35%)
  • The time needed to design and build a production-ready environment to run a transformation project or Proof of Concept (PoC) (34%)

Factor into this the impact that COVID-19 has had on enterprises in terms of cost, loss of income and business disruption it asks a serious question. Will businesses accelerate digital transformation as part of their COVID-19 recovery plans? If not, the Hesitancy Gap that the report calls out is likely to become more of a chasm than a gap.

Enterprise Times: What does this mean?

There has been a significant push around digital transformation for several years. The fact that it is still far from completed across all sizes of business shows how difficult it can be. Delays are about more than just internal politics and infighting. They go to the core attitude of a company to change. That said, the technology industry hasn’t exactly helped due to the way it has released products and sent mixed messages.

It is hard to escape the fact that the focus of the report plays well to Jason Goodall’s message around the creation of NTT Ltd. All the delivery and technology elements called out here exist inside NTT. What is not evident is whether NTT has that cohesive, all-singing, all-dancing production-ready platform it says users want. There are still parts of the infrastructure and technology stack that appear disconnected, and it will be interesting to see if Goodall stays at NTT Ltd to see this through or whether he will pass this over to a successor to finish it off.


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