Digital transformation: more than just an evolution

Chris Boorman, CMO at Automic Software discusses the revolution that is digital transformation.

I attended a dinner recently, where the topic of discussion turned to digital transformation. Very convivial it was too. However, something gave me indigestion. In fact, it was a conversation I had with one of my fellow guests about how organisations are adapting to the digital transformation.

The need for digital transformation

“Digital transformation is nothing new,” he said. “We’ve been digitising our assets for the past 30 years. Digital transformation is not a revolution, it is simply an evolution of what went before.”

I beg to differ. In fact, I 100% completely and utterly disagree. Digital transformation is a revolution – a wholehearted, profound change in the way organisations approach product and service development, and how they deliver new business capability.

Why? Because in today’s disruptive business climate, it’s all about speed and agility. Digital transformation is revolutionary because it offers the opportunity to radically change the way organisations, markets and customers interact and do business with one another. To do that you need to be the hare—not the tortoise. You need to be the most adaptive, not the largest.

It’s happening right in front of our eyes. Tesla is frightening the wits out of Detroit. Traditional banks are scrambling to develop new business models to face up to the threat from challenger banks. Hotels everywhere are running scared of Airbnb. And it’s a brave person who asks a taxi driver what they think of Uber.

How can organisations adapt?

A senior banking executive recently admitted, “Financial services will be disrupted by digital transformation”. And the reality of not taking action is clear: witness the recent demise of the retail giant British Home Stores, which failed to adapt with agility and speed.

So how do you achieve speed and agility, be part of the revolution and win?

It’s about blending technology, with people and processes. Let’s talk technology first: that’s the bedrock of being able to adapt swiftly. The old world of structured toolsets is quickly being superseded by open source development tools, to bring new services more quickly from code to production.

That move to open source tooling is being driven by the people that use them: the millennials. The millennial generation is a technology savvy and aware group. When it comes to open source, it’s observable – a major part of open source application users are under 30 years old, and many entering the workforce are either unaware of their companies’ IT policies or are not inclined to follow them.

The processes are changing too. Organisations everywhere are shifting their focus from ITIL and waterfall development methods to DevOps. Organisations using DevOps practices are overwhelmingly high functioning: They deploy code much more frequently than their competitors, and fewer of their deployments fail.

The Holy Trinity of technology, people and processes are driving speed and agility. And I you fail to understand that, you’ll be like my dinner colleague, “digitising our assets for the next 30 years” – but not staying competitive.

Edited for web by Jordan Platt