The digital transformation of business has seamlessly entered, and taken over, our lives with barely a notice. It seems like one day we were arranging movie night among the shelves of DVDs in Blockbuster video and the next we were swiping through Netflix box sets on our smartphones. It didn’t happen that way, of course. The digital supply chain is far from an overnight success. It has been (and continues to be) a slow and methodical process adopted by a growing number of organisations. Media and entertainment firms like Netflix, Spotify, and other streaming services have benefited most from the rise of digital technologies, but other organisations such as Uber and Airbnb – now two of the world’s biggest companies – have shown how a digital supply chain can be used to deliver meaningful physical services to customers. The digital supply chain spreads far and wide. Alibaba – one of the world’s top 10 most valuable companies – operates without an inventory thanks to a digitalisation of its processes, while Amazon has already begun using drones to deliver products. According to research firm IDC, by 2020, 60% of the top manufacturers will rely on digital platforms that enhance their investments in ecosystems and experiences and support as much as 30% of their overall revenue. And by 2019, 50% of manufacturers will be collaborating directly with customers and consumers regarding new and improved product designs through cloud-based crowdsourcing, virtual reality, and product virtualisation, realising up to a 25% improvement in product success rates. The digital supply chain is here to stay and should be welcomed by all businesses, not least because of the benefits… A study by the Center for Global Enterprise, covered in Industry Week, revealed that the use of a digital supply chain can lead to a 20% reduction of procurement costs, a 50% reduction in supply chain costs, and a 10% increase in revenue. A digital supply chain offers greater efficiency, reduces waste and results in savings in time, money, and resources. All of which help to lower the carbon footprint of a company. However, none of these benefits can be achieved without one key component: the right IT partner. Making Digitalisation Work Whether your business operates in the manufacturing space or in online media, a digital supply chain is only as successful as the IT partner you use. Digital business is driven by the cloud, data analytics, and online storefronts. These things rely on fast, reliable, and secure network access. Would Netflix have over 100 million subscribers if every show a user attempted to stream buffered every few seconds? Would Alibaba be valued at $500 billion if its storefront failed to load in milliseconds, complete with product images and banner ads? Any delay in information reaching the user or viewer makes for a bad experience, which leads to a damaged reputation and, ultimately, lost revenue. The right IT partner and data centre ecosystem is that which helps deliver the kind of positive experiences that people take for granted when using digital services. What to Look for In an IT Partner Digitalisation promotes growth – growth that’s only really possible with access to high-end infrastructure and the expertise of an experienced, capable partner. As with most things in business, IT partners are not created equal. Some simply won’t be able to meet your demands. So what should you look for? We’ve made a list: Security – Data protection is paramount. Your IT supplier should offer physical (CCTV, on-site security, restricted access, perimeter fencing, etc.), digital (DDoS mitigation) and process (preferably BS27001 certification) security to safeguard your assets. Efficiency – Cooling and power distribution technologies that ensure optimal efficiency and low PUEs. Commercial flexibility – The ability to scale IT requirements up or down depending on your needs. Performance – A supplier should have a proven track record of delivering 100% uptime, or 99.9% at the very least. Limitless bandwidth – A diverse fibre path portfolio that meets your connectivity needs is critical to the digital supply chain. Outstanding customer service – An IT partner is exactly that: a partner. They need to be responsive, flexible, and transparent, with a proven history of meeting customer demands. If you are moving towards a digital supply chain, make choosing an IT partner a priority. Because your success depends on their capabilities. How long is it before your business goes fully digital? Does it even need to? The data might suggest it, but is a digital supply chain even worthy of the hype? Let us know your thoughts.