By Dnyanesh Kale, Advisory Director, 6point6

The key challenge to successfully execute a digital transformation is well understood. More often than not, existing business services have often been built upon a web of disconnected siloes across different departments, resulting in incomplete and ineffective architecture.

In the past, this has typically led to IT teams exploring new technologies, like RPA, to place a ‘sticking plaster’ on top of legacy systems to extend their life. However this  only results in delayed investment in building strategic IT capabilities and will cause further pain, as more money is spent just to keep the lights on. A temporary and ultimately very costly solution to what really requires a fundamental shift in mindset and practice.

Technology is an ongoing experiment as both business and technology landscapes are continuously evolving. Enterprises are continuously subjected to changing strategic as well as operational environmental pressures. With business and technology constantly evolving, the formula to future-proof any digital transformation is clear – change tact and approach it with the same ongoing and measured strategy as you would approach your business’s goals.


Experiment setup: Giving IT leaders a stake in the game It is a human tendency to more clearly remember one’s failures and fear the unknown. Everyone has read and feared those failed mammoth multi-year technology implementation projects. However the nature of technologies has now significantly evolved, which enables their iterative and incremental deployment for early value creation.

While  business leaders’ attitude towards new technologies is changing, there is often a reluctance to include IT leaders as a core part of business decision-making. Until now, the challenge has been to shift perception of IT leaders as ‘kids looking to play with new toys’ to a valued player, who will enable the strategic success of the enterprise.

Having a strong IT leadership can help establish a vision that identifies how to use technology to influence business outcomes. It takes a strong IT leadership, with multi-disciplinary skill set, that identifies the right fit between business outcomes that can be influenced and new technologies that can be applied. To orientate technology in tandem with a business’s strategic initiative is an approach worth taking to fully realise the benefits of digital transformation.

For enterprises the pressure to become adaptable is on. Organisations that empower IT leadership to propose new technologies and the autonomy to create a sandbox to pilot these will realise a more fine-tuned approach to targeting technology that helps incrementally meet the real needs across the business.


Making the experiment repeatable: FailFast

One of the most important approaches any business can undertake during a digital transformation journey is to not be afraid of failure. A fail fast strategy offers many lessons towards understanding shortcomings and what needs improvement. Most importantly, it offers employees a chance to experiment and champions their learning from mistakes.

Agile software development offers a perfect environment for Hypothesis-based learning. We have an idea, we build something, which we can rollout quickly and to a high standard with the help of Continuous Integration (CI) and automated regression testing capabilities. This gives us the opportunity to get early feedback by gathering data on the usage of the new capability and quickly address the aspects that need improvement or withdraw the ones that fail to impress the user community. To make agile software delivery fully successful IT divisions need to adopt a human-centric strategy for knowledge management while experimenting with new technologies

To speed up and simplify digital transformation initiatives, organisations that have set up centralised capabilities for experimenting with new technologies are far more likely to benefit. The need for greater user involvement throughout the adoption of new technology is vital. To enable early feedback and to fail fast, IT divisions need to have mechanisms to quickly rollout technology features in iterative and incremental way. From this, they need to invest in tooling and delivery pipelines that allow Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery (CI/CD). This will significantly improve reliability and the success rate of the complex deployments. To further achieve consistency and standardisation, IT organisations need to invest in building a common platform providing a set of common and coherent services that are developed and managed centrally by teams called the Platform Ops. Often organisations call the teams that provide Platform Ops: a core platform team or core services.

By taking an iterative and incremental method to deliver new technology and a fail fast approach, businesses will be able to frequently measure each scale of change and its effectiveness. The key is to ensure your business has a common understanding of what powerful change looks like to avoid wasted resources and failed business services. That level of agility will hit the regular cadence in your digital transformation journey.


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