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September 2018

Digital Transformation: The Gaping Holes
Digital Transformation: The Gaping Holes Raju G

Digital Transformation: The Gaping Holes

The Push & Pull Between Technology & Business

The world is changing at an increasing rate – so much so that it has become quite frustrating to understand what is a temporary fad and what is redefinition of the future for an enterprise. This makes investment decisions quite tricky for leaders. And when you add the concept of digital transformation to this, it sets all the bets off the table!

The digital transformation efforts that any industry has witnessed over the last 5 years can be broadly divided into categories:

  • Driven by the technology side
  • Driven by the business side

While some technology leaders believe that it is the IT that will bring in the real value of transformation, the business leaders believe that it is the operations that will redefine the existence of the business itself.

Digital transformation has a lot to do with perception. While there is a clear gap between the way the two sides think about digital transformation, there is also a gap in what each side believes they can do and what needs to be done.

Technology Leaders and the Gaps

The technology leaders have their priorities set for the next few years. They are already investing in security, cloud (private and hybrid) solutions, data science, application delivery, etc. When we ask them about their digital transformation plan they inevitably bring up automation, process reengineering, and technology upgrade. So far so good! But real transformation happens when they are willing to disrupt themselves and not just the market.

When we work with technology leaders we help them create a competency map which includes three categories:

  1. Competencies that they already possess
  2. Competencies that they are currently developing
  3. Competencies that they need to develop

When we sit down with them, we help them identify what goes in the third category. We help them understand how they can develop the ability to innovate at scale or drive change enablement. They also need to develop the ability to manage the IT lifecycle while making it agile enough to swiftly plug in business needs.

We know that CIOs or CTOs are constantly getting pulled into different directions by the new emerging trends. But not all of them are long term shape shifts for an organization. We work with technology leaders to understand what can drive the next wave of disruption and invest in it.

Business Leaders and the Gaps

The business side of the enterprise is always focused on customer and revenues. So inadvertently the business leaders have their priorities set as customer engagement, product or service delivery, and identifying growth opportunities. To support these strategic goals or vision, they are already investing in developing domain expertise, improving operations, understanding customer needs better, and creating offerings that are relevant.

It is true that business leaders have been pushing for digital technologies. But the real gap lies in digital innovation. We work with business leaders as they develop digital platform expertise needed for meeting their strategic priorities.

Enterprises are also acquiring smaller tech savvy companies to achieve technical expertise. In such cases, we help business leaders make informed decisions based on entrepreneurial inclination and not just a temporary fad of the market.

While business leaders are exploring digital way of doing business, many are still depending on brick and mortar processes when it comes to fulfilment. We are helping them explore new collaborations, operational alliances, and business models.

We are also driving the dialogues around improving brand experience, increasing the relevance of products or services, and transforming customers from loyalists to brand advocates.

Conclusion

There have been conscious efforts by many technology leaders and business leaders to combine their competencies for digital transformation. However, despite this there are still gaping holes at strategic and execution levels. These gaps could be due to difference in competencies or even approach. But these gaps could also be a result on discrepancies in thinking.

The more the business and the technology side share and realign themselves towards a common goal, the better it is for the enterprise. However, digital transformation is going to need a constant rethinking and reimagining on both the sides. So, what will really matter is how the two undergo their own disruption process while still staying connected and aligned with each other.

Digital Transformation & Technical Debt
Digital Transformation & Technical Debt Raju G

Digital Transformation & Technical Debt: A CIO’s Perspective

Digital transformation is ruling the charts when it comes to business conversations. You go to any conference, symposium, or conclave and you will not step out of it without hearing a thought or two on digital transformation.

The fact is that almost every business leader puts faith in digital transformation. There is no denying that! But practice differs from the preaching.

So, what is holding CIOs back from fully exploring digital transformation? While there are many challenges, technical debt almost always tops the list due to its ability to cripple business and stifle digital transformation.

Technical Debt – A Real Catch 22

It is hard to imagine a business today that has not made any investment in technology. They all have some software, application, or tool in place. The amount of technical debt that an enterprise will accumulate depends on the type of development approach used for these applications or software.

In many cases, we have seen IT opting for the faster development approach since it requires less time and resources. However, this may not necessarily be the smart approach. Coding conventions, application designs, and even architectural backends that accelerate development can at times compromise the future-readiness of the solution.

Now when digital transformation beckons the CIOs to rethink their IT and redesign their business processes, they end up in catch 22 situation. They now have applications and solutions that cannot be realigned. But they cannot even do away with them since these solutions or apps have not yet delivered any ROI. The investments made in them are yet to be recovered.

Technical Debt – How to Deal With It

Digital transformation is not an overhaul exercise but a shape shifting phenomenon. That’s what we always tell business leaders when we sit across the table with them. While there is a solution to handling technical debt, it requires a customized approach.

We are currently having discussions with CIOs who are looking for ways to deal with their so-called “IT Stock”. We work with them to understand the amount of technical debt that their enterprise has accumulated, where this debt has been accumulated, and how much needs to be written off for digital transformation.

While there are some technical debts that can be written off, there are some that a business will have to fix for the sake of transformation. For example, a customer database that is fragmented across different channels will need to be fixed for omni-channel customer experience. Similarly, legacy systems that have not been upgraded will have to be fixed for the sake of process automation.

We know that the jury is still out on how to measure technical debt and how much of it is good for a business. But there is no denying the fact that it needs to be dealt with, one way or the other. So, we are starting with helping CIOs have a frank discussion around IT spending, IT liability that is on the balance sheet and off the balance sheet, and its impact on business transformation.

Connect with us to discuss the technical debt of your business and how to deal with it.

Continue reading our digital transformation series for business leaders to know how we are closing the gap between:

  • Business leadership and digital transformation
  • Technology leadership and digital transformation
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