Digital Strategy Vs. Digital Transformation: What's The Difference?

Braden Kelley

In my last article, “Time for Digital Transformation Is Now,” we looked at the accelerating pace of change, the case for digital transformation, and our evolving interactions with technology. We also asked a simple question:

Are you ready to do business in a digital way for the digital age?

In our digital age, all companies must change how they think, how they interact with customers, partners, and suppliers, and how the business works inside. Customer, partner, and supplier expectations have changed, and a gap is opening between what they expect from their interaction with companies and what those companies are currently able to deliver. Companies must immediately work to close this expectation gap, or the entire business is at risk.

There are groups of digital natives out there that are extremely capable, have greater access to capital than ever before, and are very likely to re-imagine your business and your entire industry from the ground up if you don’t start making the necessary changes in your business to eliminate the opportunity.

If they attack, they will do it with a collection of digital strategies that utilize the power of the digital mindset to more efficiently and effectively utilize the available people, tools, and technology, and to design better, more seamlessly interconnected, and automated processes that can operate with only occasional human intervention.

To defend your company’s very existence, you must start thinking like a technology company or go out of business. Part of that thinking is to fundamentally re-imagine how you structure and operate your business. You must look at your business and your industry in the same way that a digital native startup will if they seek to attack you and steal your market. To make this easier, ask yourself these five questions:

  1. If I were to build this business today, given everything that I know about the industry and its customers and all of the advances in people, process, technology and tools, how would I design it?
  1. From the customers’ perspective, where does the value come from?
  1. What structure and systems would deliver the maximum value with the minimum waste?
  1. What are the barriers to adoption and the obstacles to delight for my product(s) and/or service(s) and how will my design help potential customers overcome them?
  2. Where is the friction in my business that the latest usage methods of people, process, technology, and tools can help eliminate?

There are, of course, other questions you may want to ask, but these five should get you most of the way to where you need to go in your initial strategic planning sessions. If you have other key questions that you think I’ve missed, please add them in the comments.

Digital strategy vs. digital transformation

How much appetite for going digital do you have?

This is where the question of digital strategy versus digital transformation comes in. The two terms are often misused, in part by being used interchangeably when they are in fact two very different things.

A digital strategy is a strategy focused on utilizing digital technologies to better serve one particular group of people (customers, employees, partners, suppliers, etc.) or to serve the needs of one particular business group (HR, finance, marketing, operations, etc.). The scope of a digital strategy can be quite narrow, such as using digital channels to market to consumers in a B2C company; or broader, such as re-imagining how marketing could be made more efficient through the use of digital tools like CRM, marketing automation, social media monitoring, etc. and hopefully become more effective at the same time.

Meanwhile, digital transformation is an intensive process that begins by effectively building an entirely new organization from scratch, utilizing:

  • All the latest digital technologies (artificial intelligence, predictive analytics, BPM, crowd computing, etc.)
  • The latest tools (robotics, sensors, etc.)
  • The latest best practices and emerging next practices in process (continuous improvement, business architecture, lean startup, business process management, or BPM, crowd computing, and continuous innovation using a tool like The Eight I’s of Infinite Innovation™)
  • The optimal use of the other three to liberate the people who work for you to spend less time on bureaucratic work and more time imagining the changes necessary to overcome barriers to adoption and obstacles to delight through better leadership methods, reward/recognition systems, physical spaces, collaboration, and knowledge management systems, etc.

It ends with a plan for making the transformation from the old way of running the business to the new way.

The planning of the digital transformation is, of course, all done collaboratively on paper, whiteboards, and asynchronous electronic communication (hopefully not email, but more on that later). The goal is to think like a digital native, to think like a startup, to approach the idea of designing a company to utilize all of the advances in people, process, technology, and tools to kill off your own company (at least as you know it). Because if you don’t re-invent your company now and set yourself up with a new set of capabilities that enable you to continuously reinvent yourself as a company, then some venture capitalist is going to see an opportunity, find the right team of digital natives, and give them the necessary funding to enter your market and reinvent your entire industry for you.

It’s all about the interfaces

People are fascinated with startups like Uber, and with good reason, because such companies have changed the lexicon and the way that we think about entire categories of products and services. Whether or not you believe there is causation, the fact remains that Yellow Cab in San Francisco filed for bankruptcy, and Uber has placed an immense amount of pressure on taxi and airport limousine companies. But you should also be looking at what established technology companies like Amazon are doing, because established technology companies are looking for growth and new markets too, and they might decide yours looks attractive, so you must think like a technology company or go out of business.

One way technology companies differ from non-technology companies is that tech companies naturally focus on interfaces, because that is where complex systems often fail. So if you are pursuing a digital strategy on your way to a digital transformation, you must first pick an interface and then optimize the experience at that interface. It could be the interface between the company and customers; it could be the company-to-employee or employee-to-employee interface; or even the company-to-partner or company-to-supplier interface. Whatever interface you choose, your goal is to ultimately look at that interface with a fresh modern lens and then utilize all of the latest (and emerging) approaches from a people, process, and technology perspective to create a more efficient, effective, and better experience.

The better job you do as an organization at removing friction at the interfaces, the more likely you are to become a partner, supplier, employer, and/or a brand of choice. The value of becoming any or all of these could be the difference between the survival and growth of the organization and a slow, agonizing death at the hands of a new digital entrant or a digitizing incumbent that completes a digital transformation before your leadership team can even agree that it’s necessary.

Architecting your organization for change

One thing that both a digital strategy and a digital transformation have in common is that they will inflict change (in varying amounts) upon the organization. With a more visual, collaborative approach to planning that change—like that enabled by the Change Planning Toolkit™, which I introduce in my new book Charting Change – you will increase your odds of beating the 70% change failure rate and successfully achieving your digital change goals.

As you plan your change efforts, it helps to keep in mind the Five Keys to Successful Change™ and Architecting Your Organization for Change. Below you will see visualizations of both concepts; both are available as free downloads from the Change Planning Toolkit™, which is a collection of frameworks, worksheets, and other tools (including the Change Planning Canvas™).

Five Keys to Successful Change
Architecting the Organization for Change

Click to access these frameworks as scalable 11″x17″ PDF downloads

These two frameworks will help you take a more holistic view of organizational change; one that is wider than just change management or change leadership, and that helps organizations:

  1. Visualize a new way to increase organizational agility
  1. Integrate changes in the marketplace and customer behavior into the strategy
  1. Create a new organizational architecture that integrates all five elements of organizational change
  1. Make project, behavior, and communications planning and management a central component of your change efforts

One thing that should immediately jump out as you look at the Architecting the Organization for Change framework is that The Five Keys to Successful Change™ are embedded it.

Change maintenance forms the foundation of a change-centric organization, ensuring that the changes necessary to ensure a healthy firm continue to persist (or are “maintained”), while the top of the organizational pyramid is driven by a conscious strategy that evolves over time, informed by changes in customer behavior and changes in the marketplace.

The strategy of the firm then determines the appropriate business architecture, and as the organization’s strategy changes, the business architecture may also need to change. Any necessary changes in the architecture of the business (new or updated capabilities or competencies) then will lead to modifications to the portfolio of change initiatives and projects (and remember every project is a change effort). These projects and initiatives will consist of innovation initiatives and efforts to create positive changes in the operations of the business.

The change efforts and projects identified as necessary and invested in as part of the change portfolio then represent projects that impact the innovation and operations for the firm. Successfully executing them in the short term includes change planning, management, and leadership, and in the longer term, maintenance of the required changes.

For change efforts and projects to be successful, the organization must also focus on project planning and management, behavior planning and management, and communications planning and management. The related projects, behaviors, and communications must all be effectively planned and managed in a way that keeps all three in sync.

I hope you see that by increasing your focus on the change planning discipline and through increased use of tools like the Architecting the Organization for Change framework from the Change Planning Toolkit™, your business will be able to more collaboratively and visually plan change efforts as large as a digital transformation or as small as a digital strategy and to increase your organizational agility.

More on organizational agility soon, so stay tuned!

In the meantime, please get yourself a copy of Charting Change as a hardcover or eBook and get your free change planning tools from the Change Planning Toolkit™ (or go ahead and purchase a license now).

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About Braden Kelley

Braden Kelley is a popular innovation and digital transformation keynote speaker and workshop facilitator. He is the author of two books (so far) - 'Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire' from John Wiley & Sons and 'Charting Change' from Palgrave Macmillan. He is also the creator of the highly visual and collaborative Change Planning Toolkit™ and tweets from @innovate.

Purpose Matters When Building Your Long-Game Digital Strategy

Paul Kurchina

Digital transformation. It’s at the top of every boardroom agenda, prompting much debate over data management, analytics-driven decision-making, personalized user experiences, and automation. Yet, for most executives, the primary purpose and end goal of such initiatives remain, at best, fuzzy.

Rapid, proactive response to changing data, competitive conditions, and customer behaviors is undoubtedly a necessity for surviving in this increasingly hyperconnected and hypercompetitive world. However, according to Jeff Stier, co-founder of the Global EY Sinek Performance Practice for EY, businesses must do more to produce purposeful outcomes that drive life-sustaining change to everyone on our planet.

“Digitalization promises to help organizations do things well over and over again without human intervention. At the same time, we must reflect on what humans can do better. What important role will employees, partners, suppliers, and customers play in this new digital world?” said Stier during the Americas’ SAP Users’ Group (ASUG) Webcast “The Art & Science of Accelerating a Digital Transformation … with Purpose.

Why is Stier’s question relevant to your business? Simply put, your answers can mean the difference between building a revenue generator for a couple years and offering a clean, equitable, and prosperous future that outlasts us all.

Purpose sets the foundation for infinite and impactful change

Traditional change strategies have enabled businesses to acquire the skills and create the processes needed to successfully execute a digital initiative, such as implementing a new ERP system. But what companies often miss is the one thing that can turn that project into a real digital transformation: people who understand the purpose of the change and are motivated to take action and achieve desirable results.

“Short- and long-term value from any business change is accelerated by integrating purpose and motivation with traditional strategies for digital transformation,” Stier advised. “Similar to the double-helix structure of DNA, digital transformation strategies and purpose and motivation strategies must zip tightly with each other – with digital strategies running through the middle to guide innovation, inspiration, and strategic engagement toward desirable business outcomes.”

Maintaining a perfect union of motivation and purpose with digital transformation enables your company to gain a return of sustainable growth across the spectrum of the business network:

  • Inside-out: Trust in the employee relationship increases because the digital initiative delivered what business leadership promised. The workplace culture gradually embraces the change, leading to high-performing teams, better employee engagement, and continuous innovation.
  • Outside-in: Customers begin to trust your brand more now that the digital experience matches their wants, needs, and expectations. Over time, their loyalty and retention grow, while customers decide to advocate your products and services. Plus, your ties with the customer community strengthen and your sales revenue and margins significantly improve.

By combining motivation and purpose with digital transformation and digital strategies, your business can tap into the best of our human nature to move forward.

“Science tells us that we all want to be inspired, trusted, valued, and fulfilled in everything we do,” said Stier. “Leaders, organizations, and businesses that operate with an infinite mindset are always looking to optimize their motivation and purpose strategies as they understand how human beings react to the way they treat them, communicate to them, and interact with them. And ultimately, the business becomes a brand that is beloved by employees and customers alike.”

Reframe your digital transformation into an inspiring social movement of change that impacts generations to come. Get the best practices and insights you need to get started by listening to the Americas’ SAP Users’ Group (ASUG) Webcast replay “The Art & Science of Accelerating a Digital Transformation … with Purpose,” featuring Jeff Stier, co-founder of Global EY Sinek Performance Practice, EY.

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Paul Kurchina

About Paul Kurchina

Paul Kurchina is a community builder and evangelist with the Americas’ SAP Users Group (ASUG), responsible for developing a change management program for ASUG members.

Data Is King, Software Is Queen, Partnerships Are "Gold"

Marina Simonians

Buzzwords like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), the Internet of Things (IoT), blockchain, bots (robots and chatbots), and Big Data are everywhere. Everyone is talking about the data explosion emerging from these technologies. In this blog I’ll put a structure around this new era of software: Data is king, software is queen, and partnerships are gold.

Data is king

Today, many people say things like, “Data is king,” “Data is the new oil,” and “It’s all about the data.” What’s driving this data explosion?

Data growth is all about expanding data sources. We started with systems of records in IT and operational technology networks, then we added social media and social networks. Today the data explosion is accelerated with new sources of data like bots and IoT.

Voice-activated interfaces are impacting the way we interface with our computers, phones, TVs, and all software applications. Consumers are buying devices like Amazon Alexa and Google Home to interact through voice commands. Business users are demanding easy, voice-activated interfaces. Every word we speak into these voice technology devices goes into a database and is stored forever as anonymized data.

Software is queen

In the late 1980s, I was a Unix and network administrator. As a young woman with a recent computer science degree, I witnessed the beginning of the Internet revolution. We have already seen the impact of the Internet and the beginning of the information revolution and how it is dramatically changing our lives on a global level. We’re all connected and use the network via our computers, phones, and various devices including TVs and refrigerators. And it’s not just limited to the world of computer science geeks.

Today, I believe we are witnessing another revolution: The software revolution. This revolution is driven by the growth of data, in-memory computing, and the speed of cloud deployment. But the core of the software revolution today is defined through buzzwords like AI, ML, IoT, and bots. Most big or small companies, traditional independent software vendors (ISVs), startups, system integrators or value-added resellers (VARs), Global 2000 manufacturers, and Fortune 2000 companies are moving to build and commercialize software or services-based software.

Well, if “data is king,” then “software is queen.”

Partnerships are gold

In the changing landscape of data, platforms, and software, no single company can do it all alone anymore. All companies building software need to pick a database, some sort of analytics engine, in-memory technology, a cloud infrastructure, a platform, and a voice-activated bot partner.

We are now at a critical turning point. The new software innovations are creating new partnership opportunities. Selecting the correct technology partnerships is one of the key elements of success for any enterprise developing new applications to digitally transform in a world where data is king and software is queen. As software changes the world around us (much like the Internet did 20+ years ago), we need to invest in partnerships to expedite our digital transformation and win in this software revolution. Our collaborative innovation will keep us evolving today and ready us for what unfolds in the future.

Learn more about the importance of partnerships and why The Future Will Be Co-Created.

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Marina Simonians

About Marina Simonians

Marina Simonians is the Head of Global ISV GTM Strategy at SAP responsible for building new global ISV software driven initiatives for Big Data, AI/ML, Advanced analytics and IoT. With a passion for ecosystems she believes partnerships are most critical success factor in today’s software-driven market.

Hack the CIO

By Thomas Saueressig, Timo Elliott, Sam Yen, and Bennett Voyles

For nerds, the weeks right before finals are a Cinderella moment. Suddenly they’re stars. Pocket protectors are fashionable; people find their jokes a whole lot funnier; Dungeons & Dragons sounds cool.

Many CIOs are enjoying this kind of moment now, as companies everywhere face the business equivalent of a final exam for a vital class they have managed to mostly avoid so far: digital transformation.

But as always, there is a limit to nerdy magic. No matter how helpful CIOs try to be, their classmates still won’t pass if they don’t learn the material. With IT increasingly central to every business—from the customer experience to the offering to the business model itself—we all need to start thinking like CIOs.

Pass the digital transformation exam, and you probably have a bright future ahead. A recent SAP-Oxford Economics study of 3,100 organizations in a variety of industries across 17 countries found that the companies that have taken the lead in digital transformation earn higher profits and revenues and have more competitive differentiation than their peers. They also expect 23% more revenue growth from their digital initiatives over the next two years—an estimate 2.5 to 4 times larger than the average company’s.

But the market is grading on a steep curve: this same SAP-Oxford study found that only 3% have completed some degree of digital transformation across their organization. Other surveys also suggest that most companies won’t be graduating anytime soon: in one recent survey of 450 heads of digital transformation for enterprises in the United States, United Kingdom, France, and Germany by technology company Couchbase, 90% agreed that most digital projects fail to meet expectations and deliver only incremental improvements. Worse: over half (54%) believe that organizations that don’t succeed with their transformation project will fail or be absorbed by a savvier competitor within four years.

Companies that are making the grade understand that unlike earlier technical advances, digital transformation doesn’t just support the business, it’s the future of the business. That’s why 60% of digital leading companies have entrusted the leadership of their transformation to their CIO, and that’s why experts say businesspeople must do more than have a vague understanding of the technology. They must also master a way of thinking and looking at business challenges that is unfamiliar to most people outside the IT department.

In other words, if you don’t think like a CIO yet, now is a very good time to learn.

However, given that you probably don’t have a spare 15 years to learn what your CIO knows, we asked the experts what makes CIO thinking distinctive. Here are the top eight mind hacks.

1. Think in Systems

A lot of businesspeople are used to seeing their organization as a series of loosely joined silos. But in the world of digital business, everything is part of a larger system.

CIOs have known for a long time that smart processes win. Whether they were installing enterprise resource planning systems or working with the business to imagine the customer’s journey, they always had to think in holistic ways that crossed traditional departmental, functional, and operational boundaries.

Unlike other business leaders, CIOs spend their careers looking across systems. Why did our supply chain go down? How can we support this new business initiative beyond a single department or function? Now supported by end-to-end process methodologies such as design thinking, good CIOs have developed a way of looking at the company that can lead to radical simplifications that can reduce cost and improve performance at the same time.

They are also used to thinking beyond temporal boundaries. “This idea that the power of technology doubles every two years means that as you’re planning ahead you can’t think in terms of a linear process, you have to think in terms of huge jumps,” says Jay Ferro, CIO of TransPerfect, a New York–based global translation firm.

No wonder the SAP-Oxford transformation study found that one of the values transformational leaders shared was a tendency to look beyond silos and view the digital transformation as a company-wide initiative.

This will come in handy because in digital transformation, not only do business processes evolve but the company’s entire value proposition changes, says Jeanne Ross, principal research scientist at the Center for Information Systems Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). “It either already has or it’s going to, because digital technologies make things possible that weren’t possible before,” she explains.

2. Work in Diverse Teams

When it comes to large projects, CIOs have always needed input from a diverse collection of businesspeople to be successful. The best have developed ways to convince and cajole reluctant participants to come to the table. They seek out technology enthusiasts in the business and those who are respected by their peers to help build passion and commitment among the halfhearted.

Digital transformation amps up the urgency for building diverse teams even further. “A small, focused group simply won’t have the same breadth of perspective as a team that includes a salesperson and a service person and a development person, as well as an IT person,” says Ross.

At Lenovo, the global technology giant, many of these cross-functional teams become so used to working together that it’s hard to tell where each member originally belonged: “You can’t tell who is business or IT; you can’t tell who is product, IT, or design,” says the company’s CIO, Arthur Hu.

One interesting corollary of this trend toward broader teamwork is that talent is a priority among digital leaders: they spend more on training their employees and partners than ordinary companies, as well as on hiring the people they need, according to the SAP-Oxford Economics survey. They’re also already being rewarded for their faith in their teams: 71% of leaders say that their successful digital transformation has made it easier for them to attract and retain talent, and 64% say that their employees are now more engaged than they were before the transformation.

3. Become a Consultant

Good CIOs have long needed to be internal consultants to the business. Ever since technology moved out of the glasshouse and onto employees’ desks, CIOs have not only needed a deep understanding of the goals of a given project but also to make sure that the project didn’t stray from those goals, even after the businesspeople who had ordered the project went back to their day jobs. “Businesspeople didn’t really need to get into the details of what IT was really doing,” recalls Ferro. “They just had a set of demands and said, ‘Hey, IT, go do that.’”

Now software has become so integral to the business that nobody can afford to walk away. Businesspeople must join the ranks of the IT consultants.

But that was then. Now software has become so integral to the business that nobody can afford to walk away. Businesspeople must join the ranks of the IT consultants. “If you’re building a house, you don’t just disappear for six months and come back and go, ‘Oh, it looks pretty good,’” says Ferro. “You’re on that work site constantly and all of a sudden you’re looking at something, going, ‘Well, that looked really good on the blueprint, not sure it makes sense in reality. Let’s move that over six feet.’ Or, ‘I don’t know if I like that anymore.’ It’s really not much different in application development or for IT or technical projects, where on paper it looked really good and three weeks in, in that second sprint, you’re going, ‘Oh, now that I look at it, that’s really stupid.’”

4. Learn Horizontal Leadership

CIOs have always needed the ability to educate and influence other leaders that they don’t directly control. For major IT projects to be successful, they need other leaders to contribute budget, time, and resources from multiple areas of the business.

It’s a kind of horizontal leadership that will become critical for businesspeople to acquire in digital transformation. “The leadership role becomes one much more of coaching others across the organization—encouraging people to be creative, making sure everybody knows how to use data well,” Ross says.

In this team-based environment, having all the answers becomes less important. “It used to be that the best business executives and leaders had the best answers. Today that is no longer the case,” observes Gary Cokins, a technology consultant who focuses on analytics-based performance management. “Increasingly, it’s the executives and leaders who ask the best questions. There is too much volatility and uncertainty for them to rely on their intuition or past experiences.”

Many experts expect this trend to continue as the confluence of automation and data keeps chipping away at the organizational pyramid. “Hierarchical, command-and-control leadership will become obsolete,” says Edward Hess, professor of business administration and Batten executive-in-residence at the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia. “Flatter, distributive leadership via teams will become the dominant structure.”

5. Understand Process Design

When business processes were simpler, IT could analyze the process and improve it without input from the business. But today many processes are triggered on the fly by the customer, making a seamless customer experience more difficult to build without the benefit of a larger, multifunctional team. In a highly digitalized organization like Amazon, which releases thousands of new software programs each year, IT can no longer do it all.

While businesspeople aren’t expected to start coding, their involvement in process design is crucial. One of the techniques that many organizations have adopted to help IT and businesspeople visualize business processes together is design thinking (for more on design thinking techniques, see “A Cult of Creation“).

Customers aren’t the only ones who benefit from better processes. Among the 100 companies the SAP-Oxford Economics researchers have identified as digital leaders, two-thirds say that they are making their employees’ lives easier by eliminating process roadblocks that interfere with their ability to do their jobs. Ninety percent of leaders surveyed expect to see value from these projects in the next two years alone.

6. Learn to Keep Learning

The ability to learn and keep learning has been a part of IT from the start. Since the first mainframes in the 1950s, technologists have understood that they need to keep reinventing themselves and their skills to adapt to the changes around them.

Now that’s starting to become part of other job descriptions too. Many companies are investing in teaching their employees new digital skills. One South American auto products company, for example, has created a custom-education institute that trained 20,000 employees and partner-employees in 2016. In addition to training current staff, many leading digital companies are also hiring new employees and creating new roles, such as a chief robotics officer, to support their digital transformation efforts.

Nicolas van Zeebroeck, professor of information systems and digital business innovation at the Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management at the Free University of Brussels, says that he expects the ability to learn quickly will remain crucial. “If I had to think of one critical skill,” he explains, “I would have to say it’s the ability to learn and keep learning—the ability to challenge the status quo and question what you take for granted.”

7. Fail Smarter

Traditionally, CIOs tended to be good at thinking through tests that would allow the company to experiment with new technology without risking the entire network.

This is another unfamiliar skill that smart managers are trying to pick up. “There’s a lot of trial and error in the best companies right now,” notes MIT’s Ross. But there’s a catch, she adds. “Most companies aren’t designed for trial and error—they’re trying to avoid an error,” she says.

To learn how to do it better, take your lead from IT, where many people have already learned to work in small, innovative teams that use agile development principles, advises Ross.

For example, business managers must learn how to think in terms of a minimum viable product: build a simple version of what you have in mind, test it, and if it works start building. You don’t build the whole thing at once anymore.… It’s really important to build things incrementally,” Ross says.

Flexibility and the ability to capitalize on accidental discoveries during experimentation are more important than having a concrete project plan, says Ross. At Spotify, the music service, and CarMax, the used-car retailer, change is driven not from the center but from small teams that have developed something new. “The thing you have to get comfortable with is not having the formalized plan that we would have traditionally relied on, because as soon as you insist on that, you limit your ability to keep learning,” Ross warns.

8. Understand the True Cost—and Speed—of Data

Gut instincts have never had much to do with being a CIO; now they should have less to do with being an ordinary manager as well, as data becomes more important.

As part of that calculation, businesspeople must have the ability to analyze the value of the data that they seek. “You’ll need to apply a pinch of knowledge salt to your data,” advises Solvay’s van Zeebroeck. “What really matters is the ability not just to tap into data but to see what is behind the data. Is it a fair representation? Is it impartial?”

Increasingly, businesspeople will need to do their analysis in real time, just as CIOs have always had to manage live systems and processes. Moving toward real-time reports and away from paper-based decisions increases accuracy and effectiveness—and leaves less time for long meetings and PowerPoint presentations (let us all rejoice).

Not Every CIO Is Ready

Of course, not all CIOs are ready for these changes. Just as high school has a lot of false positives—genius nerds who turn out to be merely nearsighted—so there are many CIOs who aren’t good role models for transformation.

Success as a CIO these days requires more than delivering near-perfect uptime, says Lenovo’s Hu. You need to be able to understand the business as well. Some CIOs simply don’t have all the business skills that are needed to succeed in the transformation. Others lack the internal clout: a 2016 KPMG study found that only 34% of CIOs report directly to the CEO.

This lack of a strategic perspective is holding back digital transformation at many organizations. They approach digital transformation as a cool, one-off project: we’re going to put this new mobile app in place and we’re done. But that’s not a systematic approach; it’s an island of innovation that doesn’t join up with the other islands of innovation. In the longer term, this kind of development creates more problems than it fixes.

Such organizations are not building in the capacity for change; they’re trying to get away with just doing it once rather than thinking about how they’re going to use digitalization as a means to constantly experiment and become a better company over the long term.

As a result, in some companies, the most interesting tech developments are happening despite IT, not because of it. “There’s an alarming digital divide within many companies. Marketers are developing nimble software to give customers an engaging, personalized experience, while IT departments remain focused on the legacy infrastructure. The front and back ends aren’t working together, resulting in appealing web sites and apps that don’t quite deliver,” writes George Colony, founder, chairman, and CEO of Forrester Research, in the MIT Sloan Management Review.

Thanks to cloud computing and easier development tools, many departments are developing on their own, without IT’s support. These days, anybody with a credit card can do it.

Traditionally, IT departments looked askance at these kinds of do-it-yourself shadow IT programs, but that’s changing. Ferro, for one, says that it’s better to look at those teams not as rogue groups but as people who are trying to help. “It’s less about ‘Hey, something’s escaped,’ and more about ‘No, we just actually grew our capacity and grew our ability to innovate,’” he explains.

“I don’t like the term ‘shadow IT,’” agrees Lenovo’s Hu. “I think it’s an artifact of a very traditional CIO team. If you think of it as shadow IT, you’re out of step with reality,” he says.

The reality today is that a company needs both a strong IT department and strong digital capacities outside its IT department. If the relationship is good, the CIO and IT become valuable allies in helping businesspeople add digital capabilities without disrupting or duplicating existing IT infrastructure.

If a company already has strong digital capacities, it should be able to move forward quickly, according to Ross. But many companies are still playing catch-up and aren’t even ready to begin transforming, as the SAP-Oxford Economics survey shows.

For enterprises where business and IT are unable to get their collective act together, Ross predicts that the next few years will be rough. “I think these companies ought to panic,” she says. D!


About the Authors

Thomas Saueressig is Chief Information Officer at SAP.

Timo Elliott is an Innovation Evangelist at SAP.

Sam Yen is Chief Design Officer at SAP and Managing Director of SAP Labs.

Bennett Voyles is a Berlin-based business writer.

Read more thought provoking articles in the latest issue of the Digitalist Magazine, Executive Quarterly.
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Cloud Computing: Separating Myth From Reality

Misa Rawlins and Krishnakant Dave

Across industries, many enterprise leaders believe and understand that cloud computing is here to stay. Globally, public cloud services market revenue is projected to reach US$411 billion by 2020, compared with $260 billion in 2017, according to research firm Gartner, Inc. Cloud technology in all its forms—software, platform, or infrastructure as a service—is rapidly becoming essential to the needs of business today. With cloud computing, organizations can simplify IT, save costs, scale rapidly, drive standardization and user adoption, and start getting ahead of tomorrow’s needs when it comes to customer engagement, the supply chain, the workforce, a simplified finance function, and more.

Despite the short- and long-term advantages, some executives remain uncertain about the next steps or have lingering questions about the benefits of moving to the cloud. For many leaders, separating the cloud myths from the facts can prove daunting. Start here, with these insights that can help you bust big myths about the cloud and start moving confidently toward a cloud-enabled transformation of your organization.

Myth No. 1: Moving to the cloud is too costly. “Costly” is a relative term. The cloud can be costly – but costs should be weighed against benefit and return once requirements and migration plans are in place. Rapidly evolving business demands, for example, can dramatically alter cloud-related requirements. Meanwhile, new technologies are dramatically redefining the art of the possible with the cloud. Because migrating to the cloud is not a true “plug-and-play” proposition, and many enterprise leaders underestimate what a migration or implementation involves, some organizations can be surprised by the costs of a cloud transformation. Without a clear understanding of the potential benefits—without a clear business case for moving to the cloud—the focus on costs can overshadow the return on investment. Knowing the value that cloud solutions can bring—not just the costs—can help manage expectations.

Myth No. 2: The benefits of the cloud aren’t substantial enough. As vendors adopt a “cloud-first” stance for many solutions and product updates, organizations that move to the cloud may have a competitive advantage—no matter the size of the enterprise. Cloud solutions continue to offer abundant and increasing functionality. And with the help of an end-to-end solution provider, you can configure cloud solutions to the specific needs of your industry and your business. For larger organizations, rapidly deployable cloud solutions can help support growth or the unique needs of certain business units, such as new acquisitions or foreign subsidiaries, for example. For smaller organizations, the cloud can help you position your organization to tap new opportunities and tame growth challenges.

Myth No. 3: Cloud is too risky. All digital technologies and all business models come with inherent risk. In a hyperconnected world, no system is immune from cyber attacks, insider threats, data leakage, or related risks. No transformation project is a guaranteed success. Market changes, new competition, regulatory issues, and other factors can require you to change your cloud strategy overnight.

Because the risks are real, take advantage of resources and capabilities that can help reduce risk and ensure that your technology investments align tightly with clear business objectives. The maturity of the software goes a long way toward mitigating risk with cloud projects. You can add an extra layer of capabilities such as managed cloud services to provide active, hands-on oversight of cloud applications and infrastructure—helping you to avoid service interruptions and address issues proactively.

Myth No. 4: Cloud computing is still an immature technology. Like other evolving technologies, cloud is advancing every day. Those who wait for the next generation of cloud offerings may find themselves missing out on tangible benefits as competitors leverage cloud technology to sharpen their edge. Across industries, leading organizations are not waiting. Many view cloud technology as evolving but necessary, and they are leveraging it effectively today. Some, for example, are tightly integrating cloud software solutions to streamline supply chain processes, boost information transparency, and improve decision-making across the board—all the while tapping the cloud benefits of cost savings and scalability. Others are confidently turning to infrastructure solutions delivered and running solutions in a private or hybrid cloud. Still others are turning to cloud platform solutions to extend the power of existing applications, build modern analytics platforms, or support new Internet of Things business models. Turning the cloud to your advantage may depend less on the maturity of the technology and more on the power of your imagination.

Myth No. 5: Moving to the cloud will be easy. Cloud technology can help organizations streamline and simplify their IT landscapes and their business processes, reducing needs around capital expenses and infrastructure while helping to save costs. But migrating to the cloud requires more than simply plugging in technology. It requires an ability to address a host of considerations—data migration, the business-specific capabilities of solutions, change management, governance, systems integration, security, and more.

A cloud transformation is more than a plug-and-play project or a traditional system implementation. It requires progressive thinking and an ability to align technology with your business needs and processes— for today and for the future. Migrating to the cloud is a journey. Moving forward with the cloud will require a vision of your “to be” state—your destination—as well as a strategy for getting you there.

To learn more, and to find out what IDC thinks about the future of the cloud, please read this study that presents a strategic blueprint for enterprises on their digital transformation journey.

For more information on how to simplify innovation with cloud technology, learn more about SAP Cloud Platform.

Ready to reimagine the potential of the cloud? Contact us to get the conversation started.

Contact Krishnakant Dave at kdave@deloitte.com and follow him on Twitter: @kkdave

Contact Misa Rawlins at mrawlins@deloitte.com and follow her on Twitter: @misa_rawlins

www.deloitte.com/SAP

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This article originally appeared on Deloitte.com and is republished by permission.

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Misa Rawlins

About Misa Rawlins

As a senior manager and consultant in Deloitte’s SAP practice, Misa Rawlins enjoys helping her clients not only to figure out how to solve their current business problems, but also to envision how a modern cloud platform can transform their organizations moving ahead. Within the practice, she has specifically chosen to take a leadership role around the sales and delivery of SAP S/4HANA Cloud because she considers it the wave of the future. She has made it her mission to deeply understand this technology to better advise clients on what moving to a cloud infrastructure really means.

Krishnakant Dave

About Krishnakant Dave

As a principal in Deloitte’s global SAP practice, KK Dave is a consulting leader for Deloitte’s largest clients; part of the U.S. SAP leadership team where he spearheads Deloitte's cloud offerings; and leader of global go-to-market efforts in the wholesale distribution and manufacturing sector. In these roles, he assists clients in their business transformation journeys using the absolute latest SAP toolset, which presently comprises SAP S/4HANA, SAP Cloud Platform, and SAP S/4HANA Cloud, among other technologies.