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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