Welcome!

@CloudExpo Authors: William Schmarzo, Elizabeth White, Mauro Carniel, John Worthington, Pat Romanski

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Artificial Intelligence, @ThingsExpo

@CloudExpo: Article

Surviving #DigitalTransformation Fatigue | @CloudExpo #Agile #SOA #AI #ML

Buzzwords come and go, but digital transformation is here to stay

To paraphrase an old joke, there are four stages of digital transformation:

  1. What is digital transformation?
  2. We need digital transformation!
  3. We need whatever comes next after digital transformation!
  4. What is digital transformation?

By 2016, most enterprises had successfully navigated their way from #1 to #2, but now that it's 2017, there's a good chance #3 is in the offing.

After all, digital transformation has been the hot topic for a while now. Will 2017 be the year it becomes passé? And if so, what should we do next?

Buzzword Fatigue: It's Inevitable
In times of disruption, buzzwords play an important role. As new technologies, approaches, and priorities spring up, we need a common vocabulary so that we can cogently discuss such innovations.

However, it's easy to overuse or misapply buzzwords. Just like salt in your soup: a pinch may be pleasing, but put in too much and you've ruined the dish.

At some point, furthermore, we simply get tired of certain buzzwords - especially if they represent a complex challenge that organizations find difficult to understand and implement.

Buzzwords like digital transformation, therefore, are particularly susceptible to such expiration dates. Much like eBusiness at the turn of the century and service-oriented architecture (SOA) a few years later, digital transformation may eventually find itself on the business transformation discount shelf, marked down by 75%.

Not all buzzwords succumb to the same fate. Take cloud computing, for example. Even though the cloud is now well-understood and mature, the terminology is in no danger of fading away.

The difference? You can actually buy cloud. There certainly remains some confusion around the periphery, but for the most part, we can point to AWS or Salesforce or whatever and say, that's the cloud.

Not so with digital transformation. As with eBusiness, the terminology remains persistently vague and malleable. Even worse: in many ways, the fundamental business transformations that enterprises must successfully undergo in order to remain competitive in today's dynamic world go beyond the notion of ‘digital' in any case.

‘Digital' Doesn't Fit Anyway
You might think that because Intellyx focuses on Agile Digital Transformation that we like the word digital. On the contrary - the word itself is a poor fit for the transformation we're talking about.

After all, digital is an antonym for analog, and essentially means that a device relies upon zeroes and ones under the covers - as computers have been doing since the 1940s.

Old-timers like me will also remember Digital as in Digital Equipment Corporation, a 1950s-era computer company that eventually became part of Compaq in the 1990s. And while Digital (the company) was certainly innovative in its day, its history squarely pegs the word digital as more I Love Lucy than House of Cards.

Today, we use the word digital to refer to some kind of technology. The rise of smartphones and all the other device form factors is squarely in the middle of digital - but in reality, we're using digital to refer to everything from big data to artificial intelligence.

Such vagueness is often the death knell for a buzzword, as the more ways we use it, the less useful the term becomes. And yet, if all we really meant by digital once we scraped away the fluff was using zeroes and ones, then there'd be nothing to see here, move right along, thank you.

Digital transformation, therefore, risks sinking under the weight of the digital boat anchor. If digital transformation is to have legs as its own concept, therefore, there must be something, well, transformative about it.

Transformation, Whatever You Call It
And transformation there is, in spades. After all, digital transformation is customer-driven, technology-enabled, and comprehensive. No corner of the enterprise is immune from its effects.

Furthermore, the transformation won't ever end, as the forces of change will continue to disrupt organizations of all sizes across the globe. That's why we say digital transformation isn't about achieving some final, digitally transformed state, but rather building change itself as a core competency.

Ironically, dealing better with change overall was a primary goal of eBusiness. But achieving such business agility was too difficult, so eBusiness became synonymous with building web-based sales and marketing channels.

Business agility was also the strategic promise of SOA in its day - until SOA became little more than an excuse to sell more middleware to unsuspecting enterprises.

Today our transformation is all digital, for better or worse. To be sure, technology - OK, digital technology - is an essential enabler of such transformation. But of course, the digital technology of the day was also at the core of eBusiness, SOA, and numerous other business transformation fads over the years, from total quality management to business process reengineering.

You might even say that each of these fads eventually sank under the weight of its own buzzwordiness. Gurus latch onto the power of the terminology, while the grunt work of business transformation remains too difficult and expensive, until executives finally give up and move on.

So, what's different this time? Will digital transformation go the way of the management fads of the past? The terminology will, indubitably - but the transformation itself is past the point of no return. Buzzword or no, we're in for a bumpy ride.

The Intellyx Take: Focus on the Big Picture
If it weren't for digital technology, today's business transformations would look quite different - but that doesn't mean that the transformations are inherently digital. The digital appellation is a poor fit to begin with, and now it's growing long in the tooth. 2017 may very well be the year it becomes passé, and we move onto the Next Big Thing.

Never forget, however, that digital transformation was never more than an oversimplification of a complex, multifaceted transformational process that impacts every organization differently. (That's why our Agile Digital Transformation Roadmap poster looks the way it does, after all).

Buzzwords are in fact at their most beneficial when they are oversimplifications, as they give us easy ways of talking about difficult things. As oversimplifications, however, their useful lifetimes are inherently limited - but that doesn't mean that the complex concepts they represent have the same limitations.

Don't make the mistake of confusing an oversimplified buzzword with the underlying reality of digital transformation. The term may fade away, but the change driving such transformation is unceasing and relentless. Call it what you will, but digital transformation is here to stay.

Copyright © Intellyx LLC. Intellyx publishes the Agile Digital Transformation Roadmap poster, advises companies on their digital transformation initiatives, and helps vendors communicate their agility stories. As of the time of writing, none of the organizations mentioned in this article are Intellyx customers. Image credit: Dennis van Zuijlekom.

More Stories By Jason Bloomberg

Jason Bloomberg is the leading expert on architecting agility for the enterprise. As president of Intellyx, Mr. Bloomberg brings his years of thought leadership in the areas of Cloud Computing, Enterprise Architecture, and Service-Oriented Architecture to a global clientele of business executives, architects, software vendors, and Cloud service providers looking to achieve technology-enabled business agility across their organizations and for their customers. His latest book, The Agile Architecture Revolution (John Wiley & Sons, 2013), sets the stage for Mr. Bloomberg’s groundbreaking Agile Architecture vision.

Mr. Bloomberg is perhaps best known for his twelve years at ZapThink, where he created and delivered the Licensed ZapThink Architect (LZA) SOA course and associated credential, certifying over 1,700 professionals worldwide. He is one of the original Managing Partners of ZapThink LLC, the leading SOA advisory and analysis firm, which was acquired by Dovel Technologies in 2011. He now runs the successor to the LZA program, the Bloomberg Agile Architecture Course, around the world.

Mr. Bloomberg is a frequent conference speaker and prolific writer. He has published over 500 articles, spoken at over 300 conferences, Webinars, and other events, and has been quoted in the press over 1,400 times as the leading expert on agile approaches to architecture in the enterprise.

Mr. Bloomberg’s previous book, Service Orient or Be Doomed! How Service Orientation Will Change Your Business (John Wiley & Sons, 2006, coauthored with Ron Schmelzer), is recognized as the leading business book on Service Orientation. He also co-authored the books XML and Web Services Unleashed (SAMS Publishing, 2002), and Web Page Scripting Techniques (Hayden Books, 1996).

Prior to ZapThink, Mr. Bloomberg built a diverse background in eBusiness technology management and industry analysis, including serving as a senior analyst in IDC’s eBusiness Advisory group, as well as holding eBusiness management positions at USWeb/CKS (later marchFIRST) and WaveBend Solutions (now Hitachi Consulting).

@CloudExpo Stories
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Carl J. Levine, Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1, will objectively discuss how DNS is used to solve Digital Transformation challenges in large SaaS applications, CDNs, AdTech platforms, and other demanding use cases. Carl J. Levine is the Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1. A veteran of the Internet Infrastructure space, he has over a decade of experience with startups, networking protocols and Internet infrastructure, combined with the unique ability to it...
"MobiDev is a software development company and we do complex, custom software development for everybody from entrepreneurs to large enterprises," explained Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Vulnerability management is vital for large companies that need to secure containers across thousands of hosts, but many struggle to understand how exposed they are when they discover a new high security vulnerability. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, John Morello, CTO of Twistlock, addressed this pressing concern by introducing the concept of the “Vulnerability Risk Tree API,” which brings all the data together in a simple REST endpoint, allowing companies to easily grasp the severity of the ...
Agile has finally jumped the technology shark, expanding outside the software world. Enterprises are now increasingly adopting Agile practices across their organizations in order to successfully navigate the disruptive waters that threaten to drown them. In our quest for establishing change as a core competency in our organizations, this business-centric notion of Agile is an essential component of Agile Digital Transformation. In the years since the publication of the Agile Manifesto, the conn...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, James Henry, Co-CEO/CTO of Calgary Scientific Inc., introduced you to the challenges, solutions and benefits of training AI systems to solve visual problems with an emphasis on improving AIs with continuous training in the field. He explored applications in several industries and discussed technologies that allow the deployment of advanced visualization solutions to the cloud.
Enterprises are adopting Kubernetes to accelerate the development and the delivery of cloud-native applications. However, sharing a Kubernetes cluster between members of the same team can be challenging. And, sharing clusters across multiple teams is even harder. Kubernetes offers several constructs to help implement segmentation and isolation. However, these primitives can be complex to understand and apply. As a result, it’s becoming common for enterprises to end up with several clusters. Thi...
While some developers care passionately about how data centers and clouds are architected, for most, it is only the end result that matters. To the majority of companies, technology exists to solve a business problem, and only delivers value when it is solving that problem. 2017 brings the mainstream adoption of containers for production workloads. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ben McCormack, VP of Operations at Evernote, discussed how data centers of the future will be managed, how the p...
"NetApp is known as a data management leader but we do a lot more than just data management on-prem with the data centers of our customers. We're also big in the hybrid cloud," explained Wes Talbert, Principal Architect at NetApp, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"Space Monkey by Vivent Smart Home is a product that is a distributed cloud-based edge storage network. Vivent Smart Home, our parent company, is a smart home provider that places a lot of hard drives across homes in North America," explained JT Olds, Director of Engineering, and Brandon Crowfeather, Product Manager, at Vivint Smart Home, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The question before companies today is not whether to become intelligent, it’s a question of how and how fast. The key is to adopt and deploy an intelligent application strategy while simultaneously preparing to scale that intelligence. In her session at 21st Cloud Expo, Sangeeta Chakraborty, Chief Customer Officer at Ayasdi, provided a tactical framework to become a truly intelligent enterprise, including how to identify the right applications for AI, how to build a Center of Excellence to oper...
"IBM is really all in on blockchain. We take a look at sort of the history of blockchain ledger technologies. It started out with bitcoin, Ethereum, and IBM evaluated these particular blockchain technologies and found they were anonymous and permissionless and that many companies were looking for permissioned blockchain," stated René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventi...
Coca-Cola’s Google powered digital signage system lays the groundwork for a more valuable connection between Coke and its customers. Digital signs pair software with high-resolution displays so that a message can be changed instantly based on what the operator wants to communicate or sell. In their Day 3 Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Chambers, Global Group Director, Digital Innovation, Coca-Cola, and Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, discussed how from store operations and ...
"Infoblox does DNS, DHCP and IP address management for not only enterprise networks but cloud networks as well. Customers are looking for a single platform that can extend not only in their private enterprise environment but private cloud, public cloud, tracking all the IP space and everything that is going on in that environment," explained Steve Salo, Principal Systems Engineer at Infoblox, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventio...
"We're focused on how to get some of the attributes that you would expect from an Amazon, Azure, Google, and doing that on-prem. We believe today that you can actually get those types of things done with certain architectures available in the market today," explained Steve Conner, VP of Sales at Cloudistics, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Large industrial manufacturing organizations are adopting the agile principles of cloud software companies. The industrial manufacturing development process has not scaled over time. Now that design CAD teams are geographically distributed, centralizing their work is key. With large multi-gigabyte projects, outdated tools have stifled industrial team agility, time-to-market milestones, and impacted P&L stakeholders.
"ZeroStack is a startup in Silicon Valley. We're solving a very interesting problem around bringing public cloud convenience with private cloud control for enterprises and mid-size companies," explained Kamesh Pemmaraju, VP of Product Management at ZeroStack, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"Codigm is based on the cloud and we are here to explore marketing opportunities in America. Our mission is to make an ecosystem of the SW environment that anyone can understand, learn, teach, and develop the SW on the cloud," explained Sung Tae Ryu, CEO of Codigm, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Data scientists must access high-performance computing resources across a wide-area network. To achieve cloud-based HPC visualization, researchers must transfer datasets and visualization results efficiently. HPC clusters now compute GPU-accelerated visualization in the cloud cluster. To efficiently display results remotely, a high-performance, low-latency protocol transfers the display from the cluster to a remote desktop. Further, tools to easily mount remote datasets and efficiently transfer...
High-velocity engineering teams are applying not only continuous delivery processes, but also lessons in experimentation from established leaders like Amazon, Netflix, and Facebook. These companies have made experimentation a foundation for their release processes, allowing them to try out major feature releases and redesigns within smaller groups before making them broadly available. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Brian Lucas, Senior Staff Engineer at Optimizely, discussed how by using ne...
Gemini is Yahoo’s native and search advertising platform. To ensure the quality of a complex distributed system that spans multiple products and components and across various desktop websites and mobile app and web experiences – both Yahoo owned and operated and third-party syndication (supply), with complex interaction with more than a billion users and numerous advertisers globally (demand) – it becomes imperative to automate a set of end-to-end tests 24x7 to detect bugs and regression. In th...