Navigating Digital Transformation During a Pandemic

The pandemic has been the biggest driver of DX adoption -- what steps should organizations take to steer the way toward a prosperous future?

InformationWeek Staff, Contributor

October 19, 2020

5 Min Read

When it comes to digital transformation (DX), the events of 2020 have turned operational initiatives into immediate, strategic necessities. The pandemic has become the most vocal of C-level stakeholders. A recent Forbes article commented, “COVID-19 will be remembered for many things and what’s becoming indisputable is how it is rapidly transforming business.”

The pandemic has caused organizations to accelerate DX targets this year. Face-to-face retailers had to pivot to web traders overnight or close their doors for good. The hospitality sector transformed from restaurants to take-out vendors, while entire supply chains regenerated from scratch. Coffee shops in commercial districts shut down, while manufacturers of bicycles, family-friendly coffee machines and home gym equipment have never been busier.

The clamor to accelerate is palpable. A recent financial services industry report says 72% of those surveyed “have grown more innovative in 2020,” with one banking COO remarking, “we have never seen such transformation, such a drive for innovation, as we have witnessed in the last four or five months [to July 2020].”

The digital economy changed overnight and while larger organizations may need a little more time to adjust, the clock is already ticking. IDC predicts that 60% of global GDP will be digitized by 2022, a prediction placed before the pandemic hit this year. The strategic mission was always about achieving DX ambitions. Now, it is more urgent than ever.

Picking the right place to start

Most organizations rely on core services and IT that form the backbone of their operation. Those systems are irreplaceable -- they support operational success, customer satisfaction, efficient operations, and are at the heart of revenue-generating activity. In simple terms, by acknowledging the profound value of trusted technology, IT leaders can get a head start on the path to digital transformation. A 2020 study reveals that 92% of core business apps are strategic, so the trick is to use, and adapt, what matters, and use it better for the future.

Strategic modernization is not a quick fix, a single box to tick. Choose the option that leverages what serves the business well, adds technology that maximizes returns, minimizes risk, and brings new value.  

Choosing the right route

While it is convenient to look at DX as a onetime activity and pre-defined outcome, it is never a single journey. It will involve multiple stages, each one with different objectives, directions, requirements, challenges and required resources. With so many factors, technologies and approaches available, the risk of failure is high, simply due to the number of variables. Mitigating risk means reducing variables. Which means leveraging approaches, process and tech that works.

Which is why one survey suggested that 70% of IT leaders are looking to modernize this year. Modernize by reusing what works to achieve new things.

Every modernization journey is different, and potentially ongoing. It is strategic, avoids the sharp turns that threaten business continuity, and is programmed to address the three transformational challenges of applications, processes and infrastructure. Helpfully, the DX GPS is already switched on. As an example, the Micro Focus Modernization Maturity Model outlines the key factors, choices and considerations of the planned route, enabling IT teams to take the journey with confidence.

Obeying the rules of the road

Regardless of the journey, the basic elements of successful change programs are never far from center stage. Those elements feature the usual suspects of people, process and technology.

  • Technology -- Modernity and agility. Accepting that trusted systems are a foundational element of change, enabling technology needs to bridge current and future requirements. This means integrated toolchains that allow collaboration, connection and creation of new services, and which support rapid testing and deployment wherever those services are needed (cloud or containers, mainframe or mobile).

  • Process -- Accelerating speed of delivery. DX is a competitive play so wherever the destination, it needs reaching fast, hence contemporary agile processes that embrace test automation, refactoring of valuable services, API enablement, and using IDEs to accelerate app delivery are all vital components of the DX protocol.

  • People -- The path to greatness is with others. Major change may require a supporting cast. After all, the destination is new territory for the organization. The enterprise needs a respected partner with a record of 1,000+ successes across a 3-decade heritage of success, connected to a deep partner ecosystem ready to implement the full breadth of the required modernization solution.


For enterprises living the new now, digital transformation has become a strategic necessity. Fundamental business change is inevitable, smart change imperative, but DX is risky and modernizing IT operations complex.

Successful, strategic transformation happens when large enterprises build toward DX, passing through the modernization checkpoints of application, process and infrastructure on their way. Each journey is different, but the flexibility of our modernization solution, proven a thousand times over across 30 years, makes Micro Focus a long-term partner.

Covid-19 provided even greater impetus for change, but delivering DX requires appropriate discipline.

Powering digital transformation

Micro Focus helps organizations run and transform their business. Driven by customer-centric innovation, our software provides the critical tools they need to accelerate, simplify, secure, and analyze the enterprise. By design, these tools bridge the gap between existing and emerging technologies -- enabling faster innovation, with less risk, in the race to digital transformation.

Derek Britton is an IT professional with over 20 years software industry experience. A computer science graduate from De Montfort University. Derek has held a variety of software engineering, technical consulting and product management positions in the IT industry, and is currently the Global Director of Product Marketing, Application Modernization and Connectivity at Micro Focus.


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