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So you want to take advantage of one of the biggest trends in all of technology but aren’t sure where to begin? You’re hardly alone.

“Digital transformation” is trending among millions of IT professionals worldwide. But many MSPs, VARs, IT consultants and more find themselves scratching theirs heads in confusion. One reason is because “digital transformation” is a fuzzy concept; there isn’t any one product or service that embodies it, in other words. Nor is there universal agreement as to what it actually is.

McKinsey Insights, says, “It’s tempting to look for simple definitions, but to be meaningful and sustainable, we believe that digital should be seen less as a thing and more a way of doing things.”

451 Research defines digital transformation as “the result of IT innovation that is aligned with and driven by a well-planned business strategy, with the goal of transforming how organizations serve customers, employees and partners; support continuous improvement in business operations; disrupt existing businesses and markets; and invent new businesses and business models.”

Fair enough, but what does that mean for tens of thousands of third-party business technology consultants looking to help customers? Opportunity, I believe. Eighteen months ago Forrester Consulting produced a research report on behalf of Accenture Interactive that first mentioned the idea of filling in “gaps” for customers.

“To preserve internal resources, reduce time-to-market, and overcome gaps in capabilities,” the report said, “many businesses turn to third-party solution providers for help with their digital transformation.”

A new report from CompTIA takes the concept even further. In “Building Digital Organizations,” CompTIA’s Seth Robinson, senior director of technology analysis, explains how end customers are reassembling their organizations and teams so they can best take advantage of digital transformation. Among other things, they are retraining personnel, appointing “Chief Digital Officers” and creating innovation teams comprised of individuals from throughout their organizations. To wit, IDC predicts that by the end of 2017, “70 percent of the Global 500 will build dedicated teams focused on digital transformation and innovation.”

Try as they might, however, business customers cannot quite close all the gaps that divide their people, processes and technologies.

“A digital organization is a company with the proper structure and processes to drive business results with modern technology,” says Robinson, who also serves as a Penton Technology Channel Xpert. “But very few if any companies have the talent, coordination and foresight to pull all of this together on an enterprise-wide, ongoing basis.”

This, in other words, is a space or gap that channel companies can fill. Specifically, Robinson believes channel companies can:

  • Offer independent, unbiased advice on individual technologies and business concepts
  • Serve as liaison between business units and IT departments, especially where friction and/or turf battles have erupted
  • Provide expertise and insights on transformation happening in various industries
  • Offload management, maintenance and compliance demands so internal staff can focus on other agendas

Seth Robinson, Sr. Director Technology Analysis, CompTIA

One additional insight Robinson offers channel companies when it comes to digital transformation: “Gain a seat at the table where decisions are being made by providing deep industry knowledge and technological insights.”

If you haven’t pored over CompTIA’s “Building Digital Organizations” report, which polled more than 350 U.S. businesses last fall, here are some highlights worth noting.

  • Nearly one quarter of all business executives surveyed agreed that, “every project is a technology project.”
  • Nearly 40 percent of companies feel they are using technology to drive business goals, such as enhancing efficiency or innovation
  • Half of all companies surveyed said the inspiration for digital innovation originates from different parts of an organization, especially at medium-sized and large firms where there are different functional departments
  • Digital transformation is helping to curb “rouge IT” as nearly 60 percent of companies surveyed say “that IT still plays a primary role” in decision making

My key takeaway from the report was twofold: the gap between IT and LOBs create a wonderful opportunity for channel companies. Furthermore, digital transformation is on everyone’s mind. One insurance customer polled in the CompTIA study put it best when he said the following:

“Block chain, IOT, autonomous vehicles. If you're in our industry you have to know these developments well. Five years from now, you wouldn’t want to be an insurance provider that hasn’t thought about what insurance means for autonomous vehicles.”

Nor would you want to be the company serving this industry. Here’s why: For all the upside the study hints at, there are some ominous signs.

“Thirty-seven percent of companies with increased tech budget for business units say that the funds are used to procure technology directly, and 9 percent say that the funds are used to contract with a third party,” the study says.

Cause for concern? You bet. Competition from vendors isn’t going away. But if you can help customers “mind the gap” where they work, you can play a significant role in digital transformation where you do.