Working with companies in the mid and enterprise spaces, there are three major common themes that are continuously repeated: Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data, and Digital Transformation. Underlining this ‘Big Three” are the issues of security, application/usability, and how do we build an enterprise architecture which can deliver on the promises and opportunities created from them?
Digital Transformation is rightly viewed as the essential, strategic prerequisite for how organizations will grow and perform in the future. How transformation strategy is implemented, managed, and used will determine future success.
What is clear to me is that while Digital Transformation is of prime importance to most organizations, what is required is not so clearly articulated. There is a degree of confusion as to what business leaders, CIOs, enterprise architects, and operational managers consider to be essential ingredients in this new mix, and technology vendors have been taking advantage.
I’m going to highlight some of the Digital Transformation myths holding back companies in their drive to transform.
We do not need to start with an overall picture of what successful transformation looks like at the organizational level. The issue with a Big Bang approach is that the business vision is too big to tackle practically and almost inevitably results in “analysis paralysis.”
This either drastically slows down transformation or kills it.
Identifying and focusing on the key strategic initiatives, and executing transformation in an incremental fashion will generate faster results and improvement.
Two examples here include, firstly, maintaining and extending the utility from legacy systems which are likely to continue to provide significant value. Secondly, implementing and deploying new technologies incrementally as you phase out or cocoon those same legacy systems.
Adopting an incremental approach allows you to optimize the low-hanging fruit, minimize operational disruption, and increase the likelihood of transformation success.
More importantly, generating incremental success will be a significant confidence booster for the organization and your people. We are talking about bringing fundamental change to how you work, and many people will be very afraid of the scale and pace of change Digital Transformation will bring.
Moving to the Cloud may bring significant benefits to the organization, but for transformation purposes it is not a prerequisite.
Technology companies looking to push their products and solutions are largely to blame here, as they conflate ‘Digital Transformation’ with ‘technology initiative.’
Moving everything to the Cloud is not transformation, and for many applications and scenarios, you may not want to.
For instance, many of our clients in the banking, insurance, healthcare, law, and government niches want on-premises solutions, because of security and privacy concerns with the data they manage.
Digital Transformation is still successfully achieved without the Cloud being involved.
One caveat here is that we believe clients should be able to choose the option which suits them, so JobTraQ comes in both Cloud and On Premises options, each with the same capabilities and the same pricing model.
Digital Transformation is not the end goal here, despite this being a huge commitment and a big organizational step.
Transformation simply opens the door to new ways you can deal with your customers, manage operations, and compete. It is what you do with the digital organization you create which is going to count, not that you have transformed it.
A digital organization will be capable of being much more dynamic, able to adapt quickly and effectively while remaining under management control, and collecting information on a grand scale.
That said, you and your team will still be free to succeed or fail, irrespective of transformation.
You may just do it much more quickly.
Strategically, the CIO must ensure that business strategy and technology are aligned.
This implies clear coordination between the vision of the CEO as to where the business is going, the challenges likely to be encountered along that journey, and the infrastructure needed.
I believe this to be the biggest challenge facing CIOs: to successfully act as the coordinator between vision and technology.
Successful transformation requires an effective, flexible, and universal approach to architecture. Of crucial importance here is what is going to happen with data and security?
I firmly believe that unifying where data is stored, accessed, and processed is the key to successfully harnessing the information benefits and security enhancement which transformation brings.
The issue of legacy systems is also going to loom large, and the CIO and enterprise architects must decide upon what technology initiatives will be needed, and where legacy systems are going to fit in.
Some of the issues to be tackled include:
- Should legacy systems and applications be cocooned within new technology to optimize utility and enhance security?
- Alternately, should the organization move to a flexible and scalable architecture instead?
- What technology initiatives should take priority, and how do you ensure they do not become siloed?
- How will each initiative help to form the foundation for subsequent, incremental projects?
While Digital Transformation opens the door on a world of business possibilities, many of the issues are not new. Nor is the marketing approach of technology vendors seeking to dazzle customers with the latest buzzwords.
Digital Transformation is not moving to the Cloud, does not require a Big Bang approach, and is not the end goal.
Digital Transformation should be attacked incrementally, using legacy or new technology as appropriate to deliver on the business vision.
The CIO is the critical lynch pin between the CEO’s business vision, and the enterprise architects who will design and build the infrastructure.
Creating a digital organization will not guarantee success, but what you do with it will.