May302017

You’ve already heard lots about digital transformation and it is set to be one of the big topics at SITS17.  Simon Kent of Sollertis explains how to move beyond the discussion stage and develop a strategy.

Digital transformation is one of those grand terms beloved by journalists, marketers and vendors.  It sounds exciting, progressive and edgy and therefore attracts a lot of attention.  However, in practical terms, it is in danger of becoming a concept that delivers lots of hype, but few practical improvements.

To understand how digital transformation can deliver real business value, you have to strip away the hype and understand exactly what the concept means.  It is in essence about harnessing technology to directly improve business performance at every level.

Consider that for a second.  Digital transformation isn’t about buying cutting-edge technology.  It’s certainly not about buying technology for the sake of technology.  In fact, focusing too intently on technology distracts from the real power of digital transformation.

It’s not about technology
The revolutionary aspect of digital transformation isn’t about technology, it’s about how we approach and deploy technology.  It’s about breaking down the barriers between business and IT.  It’s about IT treating its peers as colleagues, rather than customers.  It’s about talking to senior managers, unit leaders, and business professionals, understanding their challenges and delivering IT that helps them work more efficiently.

Digital transformation is about finally removing the ‘them-and-us’ attitude between business and IT.  Instead, IT will work side-by-side with its business peers as equals, trying to achieve the same strategic aims.  Yes, technology will be central to the delivery of the digital transformation strategy, but it will only happen when IT becomes an integral part of the business, rather than a separate entity with differing aims and motives.

Because of this, digital transformation can, in theory, be realised by using legacy technologies.  It’s not the technology, it’s application of technology, and the relationships behind this application, that will define the value of this digital revolution.

Digital transformation checklist
Here are some of the traits that a digital transformation professionals must nurture:

An open mind
You need to challenge convention and the status quo.  Many of the problems faced by IT are caused by incumbent processes and the legacy way that IT has been constructed.  If this structure worked perfectly, there would be no problems left within IT.  Once you’re willing to accept that change is needed, then it’s a case of identifying where and how.

Willingness to change culture and pursue company-wide aims
IT professionals must forgo their own concerns to instead pursue company-wide aims. For digital transformation to succeed, we must stop looking to ascertain blame and instead accept that the primary aim is finding and eliminating problems, regardless of where they are or who might be offended.

Listen
Those IT professionals who will have success in the future are those willing to learn about the problems faced by the business and listen to any feedback they receive.  They will then try to action this feedback and ensure that changes benefit those who need it the most.

Put relationships first 
Business Relationship Management has rightly become a critical consideration for helping improve IT.  This is because it deals with an often overlooked intangible that influences every element of business technology: people and their relationships.   These relationships must come to the fore before digital transformation can hope to realise real benefits.

In summary, to turn digital transformation from theory into reality, IT professionals must first realise that it is about changing the perception and application of technology.  Relationships, candid conversations and collaboration must become more important than processes and technology for digital transformation to deliver on its promises.

Simon Kent is chief innovation officer for Sollertis.  He has contributed to a free downloadable guide written by Sollertis: 8 Steps To Achieving Digital Transformation Success.    

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2 Responses to Digital transformation: from theory to reality

  1. Ian Robinson May 30, 2017 at 20:22 #

    Digital transformation may also be known as enterprise transformation. Effective communication between IT and operational colleagues and a shared understanding about what success looks like in terms of people, the organisation and technology will help to deliver and maintain (or evolve) IT systems.

    Collaboration, shared objectives and the understanding that software evolves over time rather than being ‘all bells and whistles’ from day one will all contribute to the successful implementation of digital transformation to meet human needs.

    • James West May 31, 2017 at 11:01 #

      Well said Ian – just a different way of describing the same strategy. Doesn’t matter how we describe it really, we just need to make progress!

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