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PHOTO: Lindsey White on Pixabay.

Digital transformation is challenging in the best of times. During COVID-19 it is even more so. However, it's often been difficult to put a finger on the main problems.  Recently, Round Rock, Texas-based Dell carried out research to find out exactly what is going on.

The findings are mixed. The good news is that digital transformation initiatives have moved into top gear. The bad news is there are still several obstacles for most organizations.

Dell's Digital Transformation 2020 Index found that eight in 10 organizations have fast-tracked some digital transformation programs this year and 79 percent are re-inventing their business model. The index is a global benchmark of organizational digital transformation and performance that includes 4,300 business leaders from mid-size to enterprise companies across 18 countries.

Comparing results against the first DT Index in 2016 and the one that followed in 2018, results show the first rise in the number of digital leaders (the most digitally mature organizations) to six percent. Digital adopters (the second most digitally mature group) has grown from 23 percent in 2018 to 39 percent in 2020, a 16 percent increase.

It also showed that not everything is as it should be and several barriers remain. The top three barriers to transformation success are:

  • Data privacy and cybersecurity concerns (up from fifth place in the 2016)
  • Lack of budget and resources (first in 2016, second in the 2018)
  • Inability to extract insights from data and/or information overload (a jump of eight places since 2016)

More to the point, the index identified what technologies digital enterprises will be investing in the next one to three years. The vast majority, 89 percent, recognize that because of disruption this year, they need a more agile and scalable IT infrastructure to allow for contingencies. According to the DT Index, the top technology investments are:

  1. Cybersecurity
  2. Data management tools
  3. 5G infrastructure
  4. Privacy software
  5. Multi-cloud environment

The findings are a result of a survey in July and August and confirm what we have seen in the past few weeks, notably that digital transformation is no longer what it was. The days of long-term development of transformation strategies and their slow, careful implementation are a thing of the past. Transformations that in the past would have taken months and even years were done in a matter of days as COVID-19 sent millions of workers home to work remotely. Whether this is a good thing or not remains to be seen, but it will all become clear soon.

ProofPoint Brings Compliance to Microsoft Teams

If Microsoft has made a big deal in the past about integrations and the ability of its apps, platforms and tools to integrate with third-party vendors, its communication and collaboration platform Teams is no exception. Like its rival Slack, which claims over 1,500 possible app integrations, Teams has a bunch of integrations, too – 600 in fact – and here is a new one.

Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Proofpoint, which builds cybersecurity and compliance tools and applications for businesses, has announced the release of Content Capture for Microsoft Teams, a compliance solution designed for global regulated organizations.

With many or most employees working from home, regulated organizations – more than ever – need to find an effective way for employees to communicate while ensuring digital communication compliance.

In most compliance scenarios, businesses need to capture, retain and review employee communications. This is a formidable task given the number of messages and events that happen in Teams. Adding to the complexity is the fact that Teams enables communication and collaboration outside the organization. There are three specific areas of concern:

  • Communicating with users in different domains.
  • Internal Teams users contacting people in specific businesses outside the organization.
  • Allowing any other external Teams users to find and contact internal users using their email address.

To protect all those communications, Proofpoint’s new release can:

  1. Capture messages and content in native format, including text and images.
  2. Preserve the original context of messages and content at point of capture and in transport.
  3. Record edits and deletions of captured content.
  4. Ensure what is captured is stored with complete accuracy.

Support for communications in regulated industries is key to success in the enterprise, and with so many companies using Teams in Microsoft environments, keeping Teams compliant has never been more important. That's especially true with so many people working from home. Proofpoint offers that security.

Verizon Surveys the Future of the Digital Workplace

What the workplace of the future is going to look like is an open question. Some organizations have said they will increase the number of employees working from home. Other workplace managers have said they will keep employees at home and are looking at new business models, while others say they will go back to their pre-COVID-19 work arrangements.

A second piece of research this week offers some insight. A report from Verizon indicates the majority (86%) of companies are looking at a situation where the physical and virtual workplace will coexist. It shows that:

  • 78 percent of companies expect to increase remote working.
  • 41 percent expect to implement 5G within two years.
  • 35 percent see security as a potential barrier to digital work.

The report from Verizon Business, titled Recreating Work as a Blend of Virtual and Physical, looked at the impact of the recent rise in remote working and areas business leaders should focus on as they help their organization adapt to new ways of working. Carried out in conjunction with Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, the research was conducted in May 2020 and includes feedback from 1,080 global business leaders.

The findings do not mean that everyone will work from home in the future. Rather, organizations will be able to pick and choose which types of work and which people require a physical presence and where the company can gain efficiencies and productivity with virtual work.

There are other interesting insights, too. The research shows that 61% of business leaders reported the quality of remote work was on par with work in the physical workplace. The benefits of remote working were also highlighted, with 52 percent experiencing improved collaboration; 57 percent seeing a boost in business agility and nearly half witnessing an increase in productivity (44 percent).

So what does all this mean? One conclusion of the report is that businesses that have a digital workplace strategy are consistently more likely to see greater returns from their investments than those that do not. Of those surveyed, 52% saw increased productivity versus only 40% of those without such a strategy. There were also three takeaways that digital workplace managers will recognize, notably: 

  • COVID-19 has forced widespread use of video and web conferencing.
  • Tools should be easy to use and integrate seamlessly with other workplace productivity and collaboration tools.
  • Potential security gaps exist on employee PCs, devices, home networks and apps, representing a growing threat. 

Many of these findings seem obvious and anecdotal reports about the state of the digital workplace have anticipated some of the findings, but to get a breakdown of how these factors are playing out is useful for those developing digital strategies.

ABBY Partners with Alteryx

Elsewhere, Milpitas, Calif.-based ABBYY, announced it has partnered with Irvine, Calif.-based Alteryx which develops an analytic process automation (APA) platform. The APA Platform pulls analytics, data science and data-centric process automation into a single self-service platform.

ABBYY, for its part, brings process intelligence to both data and operational processes to automate otherwise complex hand-offs. By using ABBYY Process Intelligence with the Alteryx APA Platform, organizations will be able to initiate, analyze, predict and monitor end-to-end analytics and operational process execution and value.

The partnership will also enable organizations to speed up the insights needed to identify the most impactful processes for automation and determine which processes will drive the greatest return on investment (ROI).

Digital transformation is often oversimplified to refer to efforts being attempted with RPA technology, but a one-size-fits all automation approach is naïve, said Scott Opitz, chief marketing officer at ABBYY. “For enterprise automation to succeed, organizations need APA combined with process intelligence to speed their understanding of their end-to-end processes” he said in a statement.

Analyst firm Nelson Hall estimates the process mining and discovery market will grow up to $5.4 billion by 2024. Likewise, data science and machine learning (DSML) platforms are increasingly being used to source data, build models, and operationalize machine learning insights.

OpenText’s New Alfresco Offering

Finally, this week, Canada-based OpenText has released OpenText Support for Alfresco, a new suite of service offerings to support content services solutions from Alfresco. With it, Alfresco customers get defined service-level targets, 24/7 support options, global support, timely and regular code fixes, customization support and an opportunity to lower support costs.

Overall, it provides Alfresco and OpenText users with a team to manage and contribute to the Alfresco open source community, provides Alfresco customers with additional support, and offers a transition to information management and the cloud. OpenText Support for Alfresco offerings are immediately available for Alfresco Community Edition and Alfresco Content Services users.

The timing of this announcement is interesting given that Alfresco is currently being bought by Hyland Software, best known for its OnBase and Perceptive content management portfolios. If the deal goes through it will help Hyland move confidently into cloud-native, modern content services. It may be a coincidence that OpenText has just opened OpenText Support for Alfresco, but then again it might not.