How IT Teams Can Stop Obstructing Digital Transformation

Rob Glickman

In every boardroom across the globe, digital transformation is a top agenda item. Company leaders might frame it as digital engagement, evolution in customer expectations, or seamless delivery of new experiences. But in the view of Deloitte Consulting CTO Bill Briggs, digital transformation represents an existential threat of disruption – even for IT.

According to Bill and his colleague Mike Brinker, global practice leader for Deloitte Digital, it’s time for executives to wake up and recognize that technology is eroding traditional product-based advantages – providing fertile ground for a new competitive battleground. To examine this new reality, Bill and Mike appeared together on “The New Business Battleground – Digital Technologies,” a “Coffee Break with Game Changers Radio” episode on May 9, 2017, presented by SAP and produced and moderated by Bonnie D. Graham (follow on Twitter: @SAPRadio #SAPRadio). Click to listen to the full episode.

Ready or not, digital transformation will go on

When it comes to digital transformation, there’s no longer a clear goalpost. Bill believes that well-planned strategies are a necessary element for digital transformation; however, the days of extended, clearly defined transformation initiatives are gone. “Businesses never know exactly how the world will look when they get to the intended finish line,” he noted. With the courage to plot a course and correct it later on, executives can shift how they think about an opportunity at any moment and take immediate action.

Mike agreed that the digital economy is about the “fast beating the slow,” not giants beating the small. “This new environment requires the ability to pivot,” he remarked. “So many organizations are addicted to delivering performance results that they are afraid to shift their plans, make a new investment, and move forward in a new way.”

Digital transformation cannot be viewed as IT’s albatross

The piece that sometimes gets lost in the shuffle is IT. Bill remarked that there’s always a question of how the IT shop will transform itself in line with the ambitions laid out by the business. “The right speed for IT is ‘faster,’ and keeping up might require fundamental reimagining of the skill sets on hand,” he advised. “For example, we’ve seen financial services companies acquire creative agencies because they believe that visual design is a core part of delivering solutions.”

However, Mike advised that CIOs must also extend IT systems to the edge of the technology infrastructure, where the majority of innovation is happening. “We all live immersive, digital lives,” he observed. “We have mobile devices, Internet of Things sensors, wearables, and much more. There are hundreds of use cases across every industry where we can bring to life new ways of doing business, boosting productivity and creating more intuitive ways to work by using these tools.”

Imagine boldly, but keep your eye on today

Undertaking a digital strategy may be a forward-looking exercise, but businesses cannot divorce themselves from todays’ realities. “Boldly imagine tomorrow, but be aware of how the vision fits into existing facilities, operations, talent, business model, and technology,” Bill cautioned.

Mike added that it is equally important that businesses think beyond their existing product and service offering to drive change deep within the organization. “A great example is an engine manufacturer that shifted to a leasing model because customers were no longer committing large amounts of capital. And it monetized flight data for use in maintenance, and is now making more money by offering data as a service.”

To achieve this level of innovation, Bill argued that IT organizations cannot afford to confine themselves with biased thinking. Instead, digital transformation needs new ideas. “We are hiring more analysts directly from a university campus who are coming in with fresh perspectives,” he remarked.

Predictions for the post-digital era

Mike and Bill expect that within a very short time, the digital landscape will become invisible as mixed reality, the Internet of Things, machine learning, cognitive intelligence, advanced analytics, and much more become a seamless part of people’s personal and professional lives.

As the word “digital” disappears from our vernacular, Mike predicted that computing will become exponentially cheaper and more ubiquitous. “Sensors will be embedded in everything in our work and personal lives. We’re going to see more artificial intelligence and more robotic process automation. Businesses that start up with no employees will deliver full-service operations through automation. I think that trend will continue to disrupt a lot of incumbents.”

While Bill concurred, he envisioned that businesses will stop emphasizing which technologies are adopted and focus on what they should deliver next. “The future of health and wellness, finance, and government – you name it, technology will be fueling what’s possible.”

 Listen to the SAP Radio show “The New Business Battleground: Digital Technologies” on demand.

Rob Glickman

About Rob Glickman

Rob Glickman is Vice President of Audience Marketing at SAP, where he leads a team chartered with the articulation of SAP’s point of view of the business value of Cloud computing both internally within SAP, as well as externally to customers, partners and influencers. He brings 20 years of marketing experience ranging from lean startups to large enterprises, including running Product Marketing for Symantec and seven years at eBay where he had various marketing leadership roles globally. A dual EU and US citizen with extensive international work and life experience, Rob has a BA from Skidmore College and an International MBA from Thunderbird Graduate School.