Businesses are at a nexus point. They're competing in the rapidly evolving global "techno-society," one that is independent of political and country boundaries and driven by inexpensive access to advanced mobile digital technology. Most people under 35 are power users of mobile devices and apps -- they rely on them for entertainment, life style services, business and much more. Most people over 35, while they are generally not power users of mobile tech, have also integrated it into their lives. Almost everyone today in the developed world is connected to the internet and through it to almost anything that can be imagined.
Globalization has created an internet-based sales race in which the contestants are working to focus on the customer and the way he or she interacts with social apps, websites and companies they buy from. Customers want to determine how they interact with companies, and they want the interactions to be as pleasant as possible. Otherwise, customers will simply go elsewhere.
These dynamics are driving companies to establish an enterprise transformation roadmap: rethinking many business operations and their IT support and evolving the face of business and the role of the CIO. While CIOs must deal with legacy technology and applications, they must also become expert in emerging technology and business and market concepts. And they must find a way to modernize their technology operating environment and sell the need to improve to senior management. Developing these "sales" skills and building a compelling case for this evolution will become critical to CIOs and CTOs.
Important questions CIOs and business leaders should be asking are: Has the company defined how it will compete in the future and what markets it will move into? Has management identified what will need to be done to succeed in the new global techno-society and the digital marketplace? Is the company ready to do what it needs in order to win in this new global techno-marketplace? Is IT ready to support this type and level of change? Is the company ready to invest in moving from a siloed business organization to a collaborative one that matrixes business, IT, change management and customer care?
Of course, IT and the business sides will have different perspectives when considering those questions. But they must align. To survive the changes that are clearly coming, companies must radically rethink the way they look at business operations and IT support -- and transform them.
Beating the odds
Many senior officer committees resist -- and there will likely be a high price to pay. According to 2016 research from Innosight Consulting LLC, the average tenure of companies on the S&P 500 has been on a downward slope. It was 33 years in 1965 and is expected to shrink to 14 years by 2026.
I believe companies can beat this projection if they are willing to refocus from cost reduction to growth and create and execute on an enterprise transformation roadmap. That means aggressively looking at the new global techno-society and deciding how to compete.
This enterprise transformation must be driven from the top with a new corporate market and operating vision and a solid strategy on how to achieve that vision. This means that the company will need to invest in itself and commit to controlling its evolution. It also means casting off many of the time-honored concepts of business operations and IT support and building a strong collaboration between the business and enterprise architects who will design the new operation and the process architects who will build it.
CIOs and CTOs will need to rethink IT capabilities and how the business and customers will be supported. The first step will be figuring out how to transition from the old, legacy IT and business operations to a flexible, collaborative model. This new operating model will integrate the business and IT sides of transformation with culture redesign and change management, delivering a result that includes people, process and technology.
Companies will need to create a long-term IT investment plan and eventually replace the current IT infrastructure with more integrated technology, minus the manual and program work-around activity taking place at so many businesses today. Eliminating legacy applications that simply impede change and require a high overhead of specialized staff will reduce process bottlenecks. And new, flexible tools -- such as those for business process management suites (BPMSes), robotic process automation (RPA) and artificial intelligence (AI) -- will need to be licensed and integrated. These tools will likely need to support business at multiple locations and may or may not be cloud-based. So the plan will need to consider communications capabilities as well.
Fortunately for CIOs and CTOs today, technology is being delivered to help them create a new service architecture, one that enables continued use of legacy application functionality and data. Both BPMS and RPA tools support APIs that can interact with legacy applications. The result: a hybrid environment of old and new technologies that delivers flexibility through the BPMS and/or RPA environments.
Clearly the basis for this enterprise transformation roadmap is the willingness of senior officers to adopt an appropriate change perspective that is based on an understanding of what is possible with emerging technology and a market analysis. This is not an optional step. The level of change that is needed in most companies is invasive and pervasive. It will be disruptive and will require building new relationships with managers and staff who have largely been on the receiving end of staff cuts and outsourcing. Getting this acceptance by all levels of management and staff members, and then rebuilding trust, is a game changer, but enterprise transformation can't succeed without it.
To help senior management visualize this new operating environment, the process owners within the company, staff (managers, key workers, possibly HR) and IT (CIO and CTO) will need to collaboratively create a vision summary, including an "outcome" model showing how the business will be structured and function once the evolution is completed. This collaborative committee will work with senior management to determine how the company will change to deliver strategy and strategic goals. The conceptual business model they create will be the foundation for a new IT digital transformation strategy.
The collaborative committee must identify the current "box" within which a new strategy will be designed, identifying factors that could constrain the strategy (including but not limited to financial realities and government regulations) and determining whether any of the constraints can be eliminated or mitigated. This step is critical. It is easy to design a solution that cannot be built. This current "box" will provide a starting point for the digital transformation of IT.
Within this framework, business and process architects will need to consider how the business should change and how the operation will support that change. This will begin at a process level and align to organization units at the sub-process level and to the staff at the workflow and task levels. The new operating model will define the IT support requirements that the CIO and CTO will need to consider as they redefine the company's IT infrastructure and approach to support. While the transformation will take years to complete if a reasonable investment model is followed, the result will be a company that is built on modern business concepts and supported by flexible technology that is capable of rapid change.
Drill down on digital transformation:
What is digital transformation?
Collaboration between IT and marketing key to digital transformation
Research on business benefit of digital transformation