IT and business leaders today realize they must take their organizations on the journey toward digital transformation, but the technological challenge of going digital isn’t always the biggest hurdle. For many, the cultural changes required and the resistance to them will slow their success.
Jason Bloomberg, industry analyst and president at digital transformation firm Intellyx, says success depends more on business agility than technology.
Justin Vaughan-Brown: How seriously are most enterprises taking the challenges and opportunities digital transformation presents?
Jason Bloomberg: There is a general understanding that customers are driving broad-based technology change at enterprises. What is less understood are the organizational changes necessary to become a digital enterprise. While some industries such as retail and media are further along, other industries are still struggling with this change—the transformation part of digital transformation.
JVB: Are there any common misconceptions about digital transformation that need to be addressed?
JB: A common misperception is that digital efforts are all about marketing and branding. True, marketing and branding are important, but it’s essential for enterprises to connect their products to their marketing. From the customer perspective, what a company sells and how they sell it are merging into a single coherent experience.
JVB: How aligned are the CEO, CIO and CDO currently? And what improvements are still needed?
JB: The CDO role is still all over the place. Sometimes it’s more of a marketing role, while in other organizations, it’s more technology-centric. Sometimes the CIO is driving the digital efforts (thus taking on the role of the CDO), while other times, it’s the CMO or VP of Marketing.
Regardless of this game of executive title bingo, the recognition of the strategic importance of digital is driving better alignment across business and IT roles. The better an enterprise is at digital, the more likely the CEO is aligned with the CIO or CDO.
“Don’t measure success based on what you’re doing today. Measure it based upon how well you can deal with unexpected, disruptive change into the future.”
— Jason Bloomberg, President, Intellyx
JVB: Let’s take an industry as an example: how is banking handling the digital world? What is the industry doing right and what can it improve?
JB: Banking is an example of an industry that is inherently digital. After all, today money isn’t cash in a drawer, it’s bits on a wire. At the core of that long-term digital effort for banks especially are the systems of record, which are typically mainframes. The digital challenge, therefore, is connecting the front-end to the mainframes in a coherent, omnichannel way that meets customer needs while managing costs.
JVB: What key architecture changes need to be made as businesses become more customer-centric?
JB: While there are numerous technical and system architecture changes necessary to support the performance and scalability requirements that digital presents, perhaps the most strategic architectural change is a greater focus on agility as a core business driver. The architect—especially the enterprise architect—must not simply focus on the technical and organizational components of the enterprise, but rather how those elements must change.
JVB: Can you share any notable anecdotal insights from your conversations with enterprises around their digital transformation initiatives?
JB: NASDAQ, for example, is a company that has always been digital to the core. However, their digital transformation effort is focusing on rebranding and cleaning up their marketing-centric Web sites. They have yet to connect the dots between their core digital offerings and their marketing-centric digital initiative.
JVB: What are the major impediments to digital transformation progress?
JB: Transformation means change, and people simply don’t like to change. People will only change when not changing is even more painful. Of course, this basic truth is not specific to digital—it was always thus.
JVB: How does a digital business define success?
JB: It’s important to realize that success cannot be measured only by traditional business metrics—profitability, shareholder value, etc. In addition—and perhaps even more importantly—success depends upon business agility. Don’t measure success based on what you’re doing today. Measure it based upon how well you can deal with unexpected, disruptive change into the future.
Digital Dialogues is a regular series of interviews conducted by Justin Vaughan-Brown with digital transformation thought leaders, consultants and innovators. Each interview addresses the challenges, opportunities and multiple dynamics at play as organizations evolve into truly digital businesses offering seamless customer experiences.