Digital Transformation – A Journey with Ever Changing Roads, Maps and Modes of Transportation!

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digital transformation



Remember the movie Planes, Trains and Automobiles staring Steve Martin and the late John Candy?  It was about the trials and tribulations of two guys trying to get home when circumstances were constantly changing around them. Well, that’s sort of what your Digital Transformation journey might feel like. But instead of just the vehicles changing, imagine that the roads are changing, and the maps are changing, and even the final destination is changing… well you get the idea. Men are notoriously bad about asking for even simple travel directions, so what to do here?  The good news is Digital Transformation will not only unleash tremendous power for you, there are actually very sensible tools and techniques to navigate the journey.  While this overview won’t provide the laughs that Martin and Candy did, my hope is that it serves as a sort of Sherpa to help you get there.

Digital Transformation is not just pervasive in technology, it’s crossed the chasm into all aspects of life. For instance, recently in a Wall Street Journal interview the CEO of Domino’s Patrick Doyle said “In a lot of ways we’re really a technology company.  We’ve adapted the art of pizza making to the digital age.” In a recentessay in, Tom Goodwin wrote “Uber, the world’s largest taxi company owns no vehicles. Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, created no content. Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory. And Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate. Something interesting is happening.”  And to bring it really global, Thomas Friedman in a recent column in the New York Times writes quiet eloquently “We’re in the middle of some huge disruptive inflections in technology, the labor markets and geopolitics… a result of the exponential growth in computing power, storage, networking, sensors and software generation and interoperability, which is allowing us to both gather massive amounts of data and apply software to that data to see patterns at speed and scope unknown before.”

That should get your attention!

First, let me state an absolute truth; without technology there is no digital.  And as all the underpinning technologies like cloud and big data go mainstream, business must be focused on making them work. The end result is everyone is looking to make Digital Transformation work for them. But how do you get there, that is the question!

For this conversation let’s say you do have that figured out. I congratulate you for making it this far, you are amongst the few who not only understand what digital is but what it means to your business and how you will put to use. This is no small feat as by some industry statistics only 5% of all large enterprises find themselves in this place. Dominos is a good example. Then there are another15% or so who are currently grappling with the how part of implementation. And then the rest, which the odds say is where you are; enterprises who seem to be very cautious of even attempting to work on the how part. No matter in what category you find  yourself, and regardless if you are getting help from some of large and small vendors claiming expertise in the implementation Digital Transformation, this road map checklist is for you.

Identity – This one is easiest to forget. We are not talking enterprise identity as that is widely accepted. My colleagues here at Persistent recently wrote a piece on the importance of Identity Transformation. As we know, digital is about the age of the consumer. A bank knows digital banking is more about experiences and less about banking. A secure but non-intrusive experience that does not get in the way is the goal. While banks understand this and some have figured it out, the rest of us need to keep in mind that enterprise identity and consumer identity are two sides of the same coin. They will need to merge with a third aspect of device identity. Digital Identity is a precursor for Digital Transformation

Curated Data – A lot of effort is underway to implement data platforms and deal with the volume, variety and velocity. You can read a series of interesting columns about this by Persistent CTO Sid Chatterjee here. So much of business is based on insights mined from data. It is easy to forget the most important last step of closing the loop from insights into actions and contextualizing them within rest of the technology architecture. Without this it becomes a science experiment that demonstrates energy changes form but the total generally remains the same– CPUs consuming electricity and converting that into heat in process of crunching lot of data.

API Management – This is the hardest to explain because paradoxically everyone seems to be using APIs and implementing them yet very few are convinced about the need for API-centric methodology. Let me try and explain this using an example. The IT landscape prospered for some time without the need for ITSM, and even today most developers don’t really care much whether the production environment will have service management tools. APIs without API management is like running production software without using IT management tools

Things – That’s specific right? I can understand why you might say at this point that this is really a distraction. But consider this, digital is also about disrupting the business model and looking at areas where the entire transaction value chain can be replaced and unit costs can be reduced. Some of this is possible if you include the Internet-of-Things in the context and more specifically look at ways where IoT can change how business is delivered, run and supported. Amol Pathak, principal architect in our Technology Consulting Group has a 3 part series regarding the architecture of IoT including the common building blocks.

Applications or how you create them now – and finally after doing all of the above, if you end up with a lot of applications and feel like resting for a while, I couldn’t say I’d blame you. Except…. those applications are becoming disposable. So implementing Digital with the mind set of creating applications and then supporting them for life is futile. There is no shelf life now for Digital Applications. Applications will come and go faster so make sure this is not the money part of your value proposition to your customers.

Just writing this the journey seems daunting, but it really isn’t.  The great news is while the changes can be fast and furious (another great movie), they create great opportunities for those willing to explore and not be afraid to venture forth!

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