If You Want To Transform, Start With A Map!

Allan Adler

Over time, if properly nurtured and driven by the CIO, digital business innovation and transformation will evolve across an organization. It is important for CIOs to develop a road map for digital business innovation, as certain stages are important precursors for others. A number of key success factors accelerate the maturity curve, while many common pitfalls stall progress. CIOs need to understand each organization’s unique maturity model and take an active role in managing it.

Transformation is a journey

Successful, efficient journeys, including digital transformation journeys, require clear, sequential road maps. In fact, strategic road maps can deliver measurable improvements in digital transformation results.

Source: The Economist Intelligence Unit/SAP study April 2016

CIOs needing to (re)create their roadmap can use the Digital Business Innovation framework developed by SAP and Digital Bridge Partners, and based in part on research by the Economist Intelligence Unit, as a starting place for their own journey.

Order of operations

As with any project or journey, the order of operations can make the difference between success and failure. Our experience with clients suggests that the following sequence is optimal:

  1. Commit to taking on the mantle of digital business innovation leadership. CIOs positioned at the nexus of the digital enterprise are uniquely able to bring the clarity and drive to digital business initiatives. But to assume this role, CIOs must transition into acting as digital business innovation leaders.
  1. Assess the state of the company’s digital business readiness and digital strategy. Is the organization ready and is the plan viable? If the strategy is not end-to-end, business model transformation-focused, and actionable, then the digital business innovation leader must begin refining the plan.
  1. Refine and energize the company’s innovation model. CIOs already lead technology and business process innovation efforts, so leading enterprise-wide innovation efforts is a logical, and critical, next step. If the CIO is not leading agile innovation in the digital realm, who else in the C-suite should be?
  1. Innovate on the IT operating model and tools. When the IT department shifts from being perceived as an impediment to innovation, or as merely a service provider, to being seen as a critical source of digital business leadership and expertise, the CIO gains both the experience and credibility required to lead enterprise-wide business innovation.
  1. Define the technical and commercial platform models required to deliver on the enterprise-wide digital strategy. Only the CIO is qualified to understand all the variables and ramifications of a technology platform that enables digital business innovation.

The relationship between these steps is critical because each step assumes some clarity and progress (but not necessarily completion) of the preceding step. For instance, without the CIO’s digital business innovation leadership, the digital strategy is doomed to failure because it will lack technical coherence, long-term supportability, and agility. Without a clear digital strategy, great innovation and IT operating models will fail to produce optimal results. In our work, for example, with a large European auto manufacturer, it was critical that the digital strategy, anchored in an understanding of the customer journey and experience, precede work to identify, prioritize, and drive innovation.

Of course, the technical and commercial platform models must support the long-term needs of the digital strategy. As we’ve seen in the marketplace, the elements in the digital business innovation framework build upon each other to yield transformative results.

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Allan Adler

About Allan Adler

Allan Adler is managing partner of Digital Bridge Partners, where he develops and executes digital business innovation, value networks and ecosystems, and go-to-market strategies for leading industrial and technology companies including SAP. Allan’s work and thought leadership help clients refine their innovation cultures and practices, build profitable business ecosystems, and develop winning go-to-market strategies.