Guest Column | September 21, 2020

Why VARs Are Critical To The Digital Migration Process

By Brian Kirby, MST Solutions


Times of crisis will almost always expose weaknesses in processes, technological infrastructure, and the stakeholder experience – pressure testing an organization’s resilience and flexibility. That was certainly the case this year as most organizations were forced into a massive experiment in virtual work and the delivery of services.

Those who were not prepared to go fully remote had to reduce, put on hold, or eliminate certain services that were not accessible virtually. While no sector of business was immune to this, one that was particularly hard hit was the public sector.

Luckily, many government organizations had invested in digital services years prior –– and those that did were well-positioned to continue to serve their constituents and support virtual teams. In other cases, services like issuing licenses, vehicle renewals, building permits, and others had to be temporarily halted. And this highlighted an inherent flaw prevalent in many organizations: reliance on paper-based, manual processes, and legacy systems significantly limits access to services and makes for a poor customer experience.

Now more than ever, VARs and MSPs have to not only make the case for digitization but also show organizations the path to achieve it.

Making The Case For Digitization

Right now, the reality is many organizations, particularly those in the public sector, are contending with limited budgets or trepidation around making significant technology investments. But the fact of the matter is, the ability to provide services and respond to customer requests outside of normal office hours is no longer a nice-to-have, it’s a must-have.

A recent article in GovTech pointed out that there’s been a major increase in demand for interactive services and technologies, including chatbots and virtual assistants, across nearly every state government site. In Maryland, for example, the local government site saw a massive spike in chatbot sessions with more than 40 percent of those sessions occurring outside of normal business hours.

But what this really comes down to is not a matter of simply implementing technology for the sake of digitization, it’s about helping these organizations orchestrate the customer journey. Of course, the right technology is a critical part of that, but so too is process and organizational improvement –– all with the stakeholder in mind.

Companies that prioritize and effectively manage customer experience are three times more likely to significantly exceed their top business goals, according to a digital trends report by Adobe. Meanwhile, PwC found that speed, convenience, and friendly service are top priorities for 70 percent of consumers, and the organizations that get it right do so by implementing technologies that enable these benefits.

Similarly, as more organizations look to support a distributed workforce, they need to consider not just the tools to enable this, but also the type of stakeholder experience these tools provide. There’s nothing more frustrating than not being able to access the information you need to do your job or make easy updates to documents and forms.

Additionally, in government offices, many of the processes involve handoffs between outside entities and third-party vendors. When things like exam verifications, background checks or inspections are manual and paper-based, it increases the potential for delays in the delivery of the service. Migrating to cloud-based systems enables interoperability and efficient data exchange between various parties –– and this is becoming increasingly important across many industries.

Building A Future-Resistant Business

Digitizing now makes organizations more future resistant. For instance, well before the pandemic, we worked with a construction licensing agency to build out an optimized Salesforce solution that would enable online applications, automation, and virtual delivery of services. This agency manages nearly 40,000 active licenses, investigates an average of 7,000 complaints annually, and receives 3,500 customer requests per month. Needless to say, digitization of their processes and workflows was necessary to achieve greater efficiency and improve the stakeholder experience.

We used Salesforce Lightning and other products and APIs to quickly standup a configurable solution that provided them the flexibility their previous system lacked. They were able to divert the management of the licensing application, renewal process, fee collection, complaints, and legal processes to the cloud.

When the pandemic hit, they were already prepared to deploy their team to a virtual environment and still deliver services at full capacity –– including having the ability to conduct virtual inspections.

Where To Start The Digitization Process

The migration to the cloud doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing scenario. Process improvement is continual and is done over time. It is possible to start on a limited budget and introduce technology as various processes are reimagined.

Budget aside, a tiered approach to digital transformation can have other benefits. It can enable organizations to:

  • Effectively manage change
  • Prove out concepts on a smaller scale
  • Demonstrate bottom-line benefits and use that to justify additional budget
  • Minimize the impact of change on their people 

The key is to start with a cloud-based, configurable solution that enables expansion over time –– and an implementation partner willing to help roll out this phrased approach if they’re not utilizing an internal IT team.

As you’re talking to customers about their digitization efforts, show them the steps they need to achieve it and why they need to be thinking about it now more than ever. If they’re resource-constrained, the phased approach could be the best option. Just be sure you’re aligned with the right implementation partners who will help you integrate these tools over the long term.

About The Author

BrianBrian Kirby is the director of strategic solutions at MST Solutions. He has nearly two decades' experience in process improvement working for organizations across the financial and public sector industries. He formerly served as CIO and Chief of Licensing for one of the leading state agencies in Arizona.