Digital transformation has become a core goal for many enterprises around the world. But true digital transformation is much easier to talk about than to achieve. One prime reason for this is that there is no software or box anymore through which technology is run. This is an inherent part of digital transformation that companies and individuals find scary, and it presents a huge change in the way businesses operate.
Salespeople no longer have a physical object to sell. Additionally, subscription services are confusing to purchasing and procurement departments. There are questions about where the capital expenses are, and a misunderstanding that the expenses will mainly be on the operating front rather than on hardware. But clinging to the “need” for a box is preventing companies from experiencing the benefits of the cloud and freeing themselves from physical infrastructure.
I say this with respect, knowing how hard it is to change decades-old practices. It’s time for people to let go of their fears. Moving to the cloud actually drives down costs in the long term and makes things easier to use. Overcoming this fear, though, requires strategy and patience: companies need to show employees what their jobs will look like in the future.
Based on my experience, there are three main reasons people cling to boxes, all of which feed into one another:
All this discussion of inertia, control, and fear lead us to a central question: what does box hugging do to the business?
The greatest impact that box hugging has on companies is cost. When companies cling to hardware, IT continues to be a huge financial sinkhole. It requires an enormous human effort and financial resources to maintain the underlying plumbing of a hardware-based infrastructure.
Additionally, this focus on maintenance means that companies are not having conversations about transformation within the business. They’re too preoccupied just keeping the status quo in place. This leads to a situation where the cost of technology is divorced from the value it provides to the business. It should be obvious that such a focus greatly impedes any attempt at digital transformation.
For those companies ready to engage in digital transformation, gaining self-awareness is key. The only way digital transformation can happen is if businesses recognize that what they are doing isn’t working now and won’t work in the future, and they have to move away from their boxes toward a digital-based tomorrow.
There are always clear signs a company can look for when it's ready to recognize that it's clinging to boxes. If conversations in the business are not focused on transformation, but rather on the cost to maintain physical infrastructure, that’s a problem. If transformation is being slowed because of delays in hardware acquisition and data center expansion, that’s a problem as well. And if IT says that there aren’t sufficient resources to drive transformation, that’s one final sign that hardware is impeding growth.
But there are more than just deficit-based reasons to leverage the cloud to drive digital transformation and let go of boxes. The cloud provides numerous benefits and enhanced capabilities that boxes simply can’t match, such as:
Getting rid of boxes can be truly liberating for businesses. Living in a box-hugging world can make a company feel like it’s trying to swim upstream with weights attached to its ankles. Companies spend all their time just trying to make sure the hardware they have functions properly instead of being able to envision growth initiatives and invest in the future. Maintenance cannot be a full-time job in a company that has experienced digital transformation.
With a cloud-based architecture, companies:
The impact of these benefits cannot be understated. That’s why I believe so strongly that it’s time for companies to overcome their fears about getting rid of hardware and embrace a world in which they can fully leverage the cloud and achieve digital transformation.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Dan Shelton is Zscaler director of product management