Your Digital Vision: Separating The Buzz From Real Business Opportunity

Daniel LoPolito

CIOs are under incredible pressure to fix business issues that started and continued to brew outside of their IT organizations. Increasingly, non-IT leaders are making more technology decisions on their own, creating a complicated landscape of disparate systems; siloed information; and incomplete, data-driven insights. Not only does this environment hamper accurate, actionable decision-making, but it can also mean the difference between a business surviving and ceasing to exist.

For more than 12 years, I have been meeting with executives from a variety of companies and industries. To this day, I am still amazed by confessions of how even some of the best brands in the world are having a tough time capturing the right information and deciphering it to get the full story of their business situations.

But what I have come to learn over time is that companies eventually reach their breaking points – where something needs to be done. Some executive teams decide to try to untangle their IT landscapes in a vacuum. But whether they know it or not, their plans are most likely doomed. All too often, organizations across the company don’t really understand how critical data flows across lines of business, how to access it, or how to make sense of it.

It’s time to trade guesswork for data-driven guidance

Often, different organizations and teams within the same company reach different conclusions, even if they think they’re all in agreement. And worse, some of these decisions are based on pure guesswork.

The next step is reinventing processes and revenue-generating digital business models that align with the strategy. In other words, any business model, any use case, and any technology investment must lead to a tangible outcome. Although technology may be a component that can help drive cost savings, the strategy should be articulated – first and foremost – in terms of bottom-line results.

Envisioning the digital enterprise leads to a road map for future business success

Every business is unique. But whenever two or more organizations get together, really new and exciting things tend to happen.

Take, for example, a two-month enterprise assessment that my team just recently completed for a large U.S.-based retailer. At the end of the engagement, we helped the client plan and articulate a five-year digital strategy that made perfect sense for its business. But of course, everyone on the executive team had to focus on where to start.

By imagining the ideal end-state first, the process went through phases of bite-size chunks that led to greater understanding of what all aspects of the business require to achieve that final digital vision. Once the lines of communication opened up and current limitations were set aside, line-of-business executives began to share their pain points and their visions. The dynamics of those relationships have changed the way executives operate with each other – but more important, how they think about the digital enterprise.

In the end, this critical dynamic of the digital strategy is enabled by two fundamental steps: Define business outcomes first; then design the digital technical platform required to enable that vision.

For more on strategies that tap the power of digital disruption, see From Keep Up To Step Up: The CIO’s Next Move In Digital Transformation.


Daniel LoPolito

About Daniel LoPolito

Dan LoPolito is Vice President of Business Transformation Services at SAP. He works closely with CEOs, CIOs, and business executives from many different industries to define and build out their digital transformation strategies by drawing on insights, experience, and benchmarks from thousands of SAP customers. Dan is also an adjunct professor at the Fox School of Business at Temple University, where he is responsible for designing and delivering a newly developed course in business transformation and organizational change management for MBA candidates.