Welcome!

@CloudExpo Authors: Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Stackify Blog, Liz McMillan, John Walsh

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, @DXWorldExpo, @ThingsExpo

@CloudExpo: Blog Post

Digital Transformation: Not Because It’s Easy, But Because It’s Hard | @CloudExpo #IoT #M2M #AI

Digital transformation is a process, not a destination

Digital Transformation: Not Because It's Easy, But Because It's Hard
Guest post by Intellyx Principal Analyst Charles Araujo

Pop quiz: What's the first thing you should do after you've completed your digital transformation?

If you've followed our work here at Intellyx, you know this was a trick question.

Digital transformation is a process, not a destination. It's a fundamental reshaping of an organization's culture that reorients it around the customer experience, business value and constant change.

It's not about executing a ‘digital transformation project' and finding a new normal. The essence of digital transformation is the destruction of the static state.

This essence is a challenging concept to grasp, ironically, because while we talk about digital transformation, we do it through an industrial era filter. It's difficult to imagine a change of state this fundamental, so it's easier to put in a box we understand.

A recent Ovum study shows the difficulty in grasping this essence of digital transformation. In the study of 7,000 IT decision makers, one-third of respondents said their organizations were "unprepared for...digital transformation." That was the headline - but the more troubling statistic was that 7% said their digital transformation was complete.

These results should scare you. First, a third of organizations are not prepared to do anything? After hearing an unending drumbeat about the changing landscape and having to step over the carcasses of companies who failed to respond to digital disruption, they've done nothing?

And then there are the 7% who claim to be done. They are sitting back, sipping their glass of Scotch and chuckling at the poor souls who are so far behind. They have no idea that not only are they not finished, but there's a good chance they haven't even started.

But even the study itself speaks to how badly organizations, their leaders, and even industry pundits misunderstand the true essence of digital transformation - why was that question even in the study?

All of these questions speak to the same problem: we hate ambiguity and open-ended quests. We want a starting line, a finish line and a way to know whether we've won or lost. But that's not how digital transformation works.

But who wants to take the first step on a journey they know will never end?

How to Win a Race You Can't Finish
By putting digital transformation into an industrial era box with a neat starting point, ending point, and finite measure of success, organizations are all but ensuring that they will ultimately fail to transform anything. They will find themselves struggling to understand how everything went wrong when they thought they did everything right.

To actually transform your organization, you need to change the way you look at the process - and by doing so, you'll be taking your first real step toward digital transformation.

The starting point is redefining success. Most organizations simply define digital transformation in terms of completing some specific set of activities. More adventurous organizations might have a set of business outcome metrics and define success as achieving some measure of them.

But these definitions of success will not ensure that your organization will actually achieve the real goal of digital transformation because they measure finite states. The goal of digital transformation is to create an organization that is infinite, unbounded, and in a constant state of reinvention.

Admittedly, that goal is much harder to measure.

It's a little like the difference between a monorail that takes people from a single location to another versus building a personal flying and submersible vehicle. One is static and serves a single purpose, so you measure its output and those things that will predict its output.

The other can take you anywhere you want to go, so the only measures that matter are those that ensure it can continue to take you there - wherever that may be.

Re-imaging Roles in a ‘Transformed' Organization
If you carry this analogy further, you realize that you must measure transformation success not by outputs, but by capabilities that deliver competitive advantage. Are your wheels running optimally so you can drive on roads faster than your competitors? Are your ducted fan engines operating effectively so that you can take off more quickly and fly faster? Are your navigational instruments operational so that you can plot your course more efficiently - on land, in the air or underwater?

From an organizational perspective, these capabilities translate to functional and individual roles. You can, therefore, measure digital transformation success across two dimensions:

  • Do you have the necessary capabilities/roles to take your organization anywhere you may need to go?
  • Are those capabilities/roles operating optimally and delivering competitive advantage?

However, one question remains: how do you know if you have the right roles and if they're operating optimally? This is where it gets tough. Because digital transformation demands a state of constant change, there is no ‘best practice' or standard by which you can measure success. The capabilities necessary at any given point will be different for every organization.

Nevertheless, one thing you can be sure of is that if the functional structures, roles and capability models you are using seem a lot like the ones you've always used, just with cooler names and titles, it's a pretty good bet you're not there yet. It's when things start feeling foreign that you're probably on the right track.

Recent conversations I've had with two organizations are good examples of what it looks like to be on the transformational journey.

The first company is beginning to apply the agile software development methodology as a business management model. Unrelated to software development, the organization is forming scrum teams, holding stand-ups and conducting sprints within its business operations and marketing teams.

The backlog contains business activities instead of software features, but the process is largely the same - and, of course, it has embedded technology demand into the process.

The second organization's approach is more radical. It has created a self-organizing management model that sits on top of its hierarchical management structure. Moreover, it has extended this self-organizing management model to its client engagements.

This company has created a structured mechanism that defines how this self-organizational model works. It includes a formal process for establishing the objective of each team, for managing the relationships between teams and specific roles that must exist within each team. It even uses this approach at the top-most level of the organization to drive all strategic decisions.

In both cases, the common thread is a re-imagining of roles and the reshaping of the operating paradigm around these new roles, where technology is a fundamental enabler. They both also measure performance based on the delivery capability of their respective teams, explicitly assessing the teams' on-going improvement and ability to adapt - ensuring that they maintain their transformative capability.

The Intellyx Take
To paraphrase John F. Kennedy, organizations must choose to pursue genuine digital transformation not because it is easy, but because it is hard. You must accept this challenge if you are to lead your organizations into the future.

If you think you are well on your way with digital transformation, or, heaven forbid, that you're done, stop and check yourself.

The digital transformation journey is a marathon that you've only just begun. The very best you can hope for now is to have started your journey with honorable intention and with the determination to see it through.

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: NASA.

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
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...
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...
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...
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.
"Cloud Academy is an enterprise training platform for the cloud, specifically public clouds. We offer guided learning experiences on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud and all the surrounding methodologies and technologies that you need to know and your teams need to know in order to leverage the full benefits of the cloud," explained Alex Brower, VP of Marketing at Cloud Academy, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clar...
"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.
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.
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...
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 ...
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...
"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.
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...
"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.
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...
"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.
"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.
"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.