Digital business transformation implies new processes
and new outcomes, enabled by new ways of using information
technologies. It is a series of fundamental changes that may be
approached incrementally or as “big bang” projects. In either case more
and more enterprise business and IT leaders are impatient for change.
They fear not being able to find and take advantage of new
opportunities; they worry about falling behind competitors. They seek
ever-improving means of trialing new capabilities and either succeeding
or “failing fast” with reduced risk to the business.
Meanwhile, digital transformation is still early enough in most
firms’ agendas to lack cohesive, coordinating strategy and management.
There is absorption of digital business transformation plans,
initiatives, and spending into ongoing business organizations and
operations. On the plus side, this implies that more and more, “digital
business” is more and more becoming just “business.” On the negative
side, this suggests that digital plans and initiatives may be being
spread more widely, away from centralized, coordinating governance.
On the provider side developing and delivering new technologies for
new services that enable new enterprise-side capabilities is very
different than providing mature services to knowledgeable clients was
just 5 to 10 years ago. Enterprise clients are really still becoming
aware of what can be done, and taking early steps toward translating
that into longer-term business planning and strategy.
In evolutionary theory, it’s not the strongest species that survive,
but those that adapt the best and most rapidly to their environments. In
a business IT environment enterprises and providers both need to enable
adaptability in order to survive and prosper. Three key actions to do
this are as follows:
1. Understand that “change” really means “improvement.”
Digital is not about raw change; it is about improvement. And as there
are always too many opportunities for improving business and IT, look
for the most valuable business improvements feasible.
2. Reduce and manage the uncertainty. Identifying
and implementing changes that improve the ability of the firm to do
business will significantly reduce uncertainty about what to do, how to
do it, and when. This step enables vision and planning based on a path
of measurable, incremental improvements that lead to strategic
3. Adjust your speed accordingly. Improving
operational efficiency is like improving fuel efficiency. Your vision
down the road is much improved, and you can avoid more traffic problems
and accidents, when you do not have to constantly monitor dashboard
gauges and lights for problems.
Simplifying the change+uncertainty+speed problem in this way also
enables enterprise IT and business leaders to better identify the most
valuable IT providers and capabilities.
Providers need to understand these changes because there is great
opportunity in helping client enterprises understand and scope possible
improvements. Providers also need to understand their own need for
speed. Enterprise-side IT business changes are occurring quarterly, or
even faster. Awareness of client enterprise business change – and the
flexibility to adapt to that change and its accelerating pace – will be
key to the ability of IT providers to compete.