Welcome!

Blog Feed Post

Three Digital Transformation Truths and One Great Myth

It’s conference season and, as you might expect, Jason and I have been on the road covering a bunch of them. It’s always great to see what the disruptive players in the market are doing — and this year did not disappoint. But there is one thing that repeatedly happens that just gets under my skin: transformation-washing.

As Jason explained in a Forbes article over a year ago, ‘washing’ is when a vendor (or pundit) applies a buzzword loosely in an overt attempt to attach themselves to its buzz. And transformation-washing is rampant.

At virtually every event vendors bombarded the attendees with all the reasons that this tool or that solution was the driving force behind digital transformation. Unquestionably, many of these tools are innovative and represent genuine breakthroughs. But no tool, in and of itself, can lay claim to being digital transformation-in-a-bottle.

Ironically, we can trace the roots of this particular cancer to another buzzword-gone-wild: cloud. When cloud first hit the scene, it was a case study on this phenomenon. Every article I read — and indeed every pronouncement from the cloud vendors — talked about cloud as if it was synonymous with digital transformation.

Just move to the cloud, and you have transformed. Easy peasy.

My frustration wasn’t in that I disagreed with the transformative potential of the cloud. I have long understood its transformative power. But having spent years helping large enterprise organizations execute transformational initiatives, I knew all too well that no real transformation was ever that one-dimensional.

There are plenty of organizations who have moved to the cloud and have been shockingly effective at transforming absolutely nothing.

Cloud is and always has been a mere tool. A tool that could be a powerful enabler of digital transformation, to be sure, but a tool nonetheless. And the passing of time has not changed this one bit.

The Damaging Effects of Transformation-Washing

None of this, however, has stopped vendors and pundits from gushing on and on about the transformative power of cloud — and now a whole host of technologies that have followed and evolved from that simple starting point.

This isn’t, however, just a rant. The consequences are real, and the effects are damaging.

I recently participated in a Facebook Group discussion in which the gathered group of IT professionals were taking turns bashing digital transformation as nothing but vendors’ blunt-force marketing weapon against enterprise customers.

I understood their frustration — and share it — but the grave risk is that they are now dismissing the very significant, true nature of digital transformation. And, in so doing, risk leaving their organizations unable to adapt to what is coming.

To avoid that fate, you must understand the three digital transformation truths and beware its one great myth.

The Three Digital Transformation Truths

Let’s get this out of the way: digital transformation is a buzzword and, yes, technology vendors have rampantly abused it in pursuit of marketing advantage. I’m not sure if it has delivered their hoped-for marketing results, but the one effect we can be sure of is that they have successfully obscured its meaning.

Real digital transformation — the kind that Intellyx has always talked about — is not about some incremental shift in technology use. It’s about a much more fundamental shift in organizational and societal structures. To understand its true nature, therefore, you must understand the three digital transformation truths.

Truth #1: It’s a Power Shift

Beginning with the first dot-com era at the turn of the millennium, consumer technology companies burst onto the scene offering an entirely new breed of technology-powered customer experiences. We commonly refer to this as the consumerization of IT.

What most people more commonly miss, however, is that the evolution of easy-to-use consumer-based technologies, combined with their new-found ubiquity began a subtle, but rapid shift of power away from organizations to their customers.

As information became freely and instantly available, organizations lost control of the narrative. They could no longer dictate the terms of the engagement. It is this shift in power that precipitated what we now call the digital disruption of industries as technology upstarts stole long-safe customers by enabling this shift in control.

Truth #2: Transformation Begets New Business and Operating Models

Digital transformation is, essentially, the response to this digital disruption whether it be proactively (in the form of digital upstarts) or reactively (on the part of legacy organizations).

But simply introducing a new technology is not digital transformation. If you look at the organizations disrupting industries, you will find that the underlying technology itself is not necessarily that revolutionary. What is always revolutionary, however, is their business model.

The second digital transformation truth is that true digital transformation always begets new business and operating models. Always.

The shift in power away from organizations and to their customers means that every organization must reorient its business and operating models to respond to this new world order. A digital ‘transformation’ that is not driven by this transformation of business and operating models is just window dressing.

Truth #3: Transformation Drives Organizational Change

The shift in power to the customer – what we call the primacy of the customer – and the establishment of new business and operating models then leads inexorably to the final truth: digital transformation must drive organizational change.

The natural outcome – the only outcome – of this power-shift and creation of new operating models is a fundamental transformation of the organization itself. It will take many forms, but organizations will transform themselves along organizational, structural and cultural dimensions in order to achieve customer-centricity and to enact their new business models.

At a minimum, this will lead to the breaking down of organizational silos, the pushing of decision making deeper into the organization, the adoption of self-organization principles and the flattening of hierarchies.

But regardless of form, organizations must execute this type of fundamental transformation to stay relevant.

This digital transformation tsunami will spare no industry and no organization — no matter how large or established. Only those organizations who acknowledge and respect the shift in power and then relentlessly reorganize and restructure themselves around serving their customers will survive.

The Great Digital Transformation Myth

As you absorb these truths, however, you must guard against the one great digital transformation myth. Ironically, it has to do with the transformative power of modern technology.

The myth — the refrain I most often hear from heels-dug-in IT professionals — is that this is nothing new. They smugly claim that IT professionals have been applying technology to solve business problems and, as a result, transforming the business, from the very beginning. To their ears, all this digital transformation talk is just marketing hype to describe business-as-usual.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

For most of our history, we applied technology to automate existing business processes. Some refinement and even re-engineering occurred as a result, but we were applying technology to what already existed.

Today’s emerging technologies are astoundingly different. They are overturning long-held architectural models and embedding technology deep into the fabric of the organization, leaving paradigm shifts in their wake. It is, in fact, the emergence of these new technologies that are enabling the new customer-centric business models that are at the heart of digital transformation.

The Intellyx Take

There may be only one thing worse than buying into all the hype surrounding digital transformation: ignoring it.

The true essence of digital transformation is unsettling. Scary even. It represents an upturning of what governs most of our day-to-day existence. And because we’re making this future up as we go, no one can say with any credibility that they know how this will all turn out.

But simply dismissing all of it as mere hype and carrying on as if nothing is changing is pure folly. You must accept that digital transformation, in all of its hype-laden glory, is real and will impact you, your organization, your children and everyone and everything you know. And it will happen sooner than you think.

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: pittaya.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Jason Bloomberg

Jason Bloomberg is a leading IT industry analyst, Forbes contributor, keynote speaker, and globally recognized expert on multiple disruptive trends in enterprise technology and digital transformation. He is ranked #5 on Onalytica’s list of top Digital Transformation influencers for 2018 and #15 on Jax’s list of top DevOps influencers for 2017, the only person to appear on both lists.

As founder and president of Agile Digital Transformation analyst firm Intellyx, he advises, writes, and speaks on a diverse set of topics, including digital transformation, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, devops, big data/analytics, cybersecurity, blockchain/bitcoin/cryptocurrency, no-code/low-code platforms and tools, organizational transformation, internet of things, enterprise architecture, SD-WAN/SDX, mainframes, hybrid IT, and legacy transformation, among other topics.

Mr. Bloomberg’s articles in Forbes are often viewed by more than 100,000 readers. During his career, he has published over 1,200 articles (over 200 for Forbes alone), spoken at over 400 conferences and webinars, and he has been quoted in the press and blogosphere over 2,000 times.

Mr. Bloomberg is the author or coauthor of four books: The Agile Architecture Revolution (Wiley, 2013), Service Orient or Be Doomed! How Service Orientation Will Change Your Business (Wiley, 2006), XML and Web Services Unleashed (SAMS Publishing, 2002), and Web Page Scripting Techniques (Hayden Books, 1996). His next book, Agile Digital Transformation, is due within the next year.

At SOA-focused industry analyst firm ZapThink from 2001 to 2013, Mr. Bloomberg created and delivered the Licensed ZapThink Architect (LZA) Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) course and associated credential, certifying over 1,700 professionals worldwide. He is one of the original Managing Partners of ZapThink LLC, which was acquired by Dovel Technologies in 2011.

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), and several software and web development positions.

Latest Stories
This session will provide an introduction to Cloud driven quality and transformation and highlight the key features that comprise it. A perspective on the cloud transformation lifecycle, transformation levers, and transformation framework will be shared. At Cognizant, we have developed a transformation strategy to enable the migration of business critical workloads to cloud environments. The strategy encompasses a set of transformation levers across the cloud transformation lifecycle to enhance ...
Your job is mostly boring. Many of the IT operations tasks you perform on a day-to-day basis are repetitive and dull. Utilizing automation can improve your work life, automating away the drudgery and embracing the passion for technology that got you started in the first place. In this presentation, I'll talk about what automation is, and how to approach implementing it in the context of IT Operations. Ned will discuss keys to success in the long term and include practical real-world examples. Ge...
The challenges of aggregating data from consumer-oriented devices, such as wearable technologies and smart thermostats, are fairly well-understood. However, there are a new set of challenges for IoT devices that generate megabytes or gigabytes of data per second. Certainly, the infrastructure will have to change, as those volumes of data will likely overwhelm the available bandwidth for aggregating the data into a central repository. Ochandarena discusses a whole new way to think about your next...
So the dumpster is on fire. Again. The site's down. Your boss's face is an ever-deepening purple. And you begin debating whether you should join the #incident channel or call an ambulance to deal with his impending stroke. Yes, we know this is a developer's fault. There's plenty of time for blame later. Postmortems have a macabre name because they were once intended to be Viking-like funerals for someone's job. But we're civilized now. Sort of. So we call them post-incident reviews. Fires are ne...
Whenever a new technology hits the high points of hype, everyone starts talking about it like it will solve all their business problems. Blockchain is one of those technologies. According to Gartner's latest report on the hype cycle of emerging technologies, blockchain has just passed the peak of their hype cycle curve. If you read the news articles about it, one would think it has taken over the technology world. No disruptive technology is without its challenges and potential impediments t...
Hackers took three days to identify and exploit a known vulnerability in Equifax’s web applications. I will share new data that reveals why three days (at most) is the new normal for DevSecOps teams to move new business /security requirements from design into production. This session aims to enlighten DevOps teams, security and development professionals by sharing results from the 4th annual State of the Software Supply Chain Report -- a blend of public and proprietary data with expert researc...
CloudEXPO New York 2018, colocated with DevOpsSUMMIT and DXWorldEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 12-13, 2018, in New York City and will bring together Cloud Computing, FinTech and Blockchain, Digital Transformation, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, AI and Machine Learning to one location.
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that Nutanix has been named "Platinum Sponsor" of CloudEXPO | DevOpsSUMMIT | DXWorldEXPO New York, which will take place November 12-13, 2018 in New York City. Nutanix makes infrastructure invisible, elevating IT to focus on the applications and services that power their business. The Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Platform blends web-scale engineering and consumer-grade design to natively converge server, storage, virtualization and networking into a resilient, softwar...
CloudEXPO | DevOpsSUMMIT | DXWorldEXPO are the world's most influential, independent events where Cloud Computing was coined and where technology buyers and vendors meet to experience and discuss the big picture of Digital Transformation and all of the strategies, tactics, and tools they need to realize their goals. Sponsors of DXWorldEXPO | CloudEXPO benefit from unmatched branding, profile building and lead generation opportunities.
The digital transformation is real! To adapt, IT professionals need to transform their own skillset to become more multi-dimensional by gaining both depth and breadth of a wide variety of knowledge and competencies. Historically, while IT has been built on a foundation of specialty (or "I" shaped) silos, the DevOps principle of "shifting left" is opening up opportunities for developers, operational staff, security and others to grow their skills portfolio, advance their careers and become "T"-sh...
Lori MacVittie is a subject matter expert on emerging technology responsible for outbound evangelism across F5's entire product suite. MacVittie has extensive development and technical architecture experience in both high-tech and enterprise organizations, in addition to network and systems administration expertise. Prior to joining F5, MacVittie was an award-winning technology editor at Network Computing Magazine where she evaluated and tested application-focused technologies including app secu...
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that Big Data Federation to Exhibit at the 22nd International CloudEXPO, colocated with DevOpsSUMMIT and DXWorldEXPO, November 12-13, 2018 in New York City. Big Data Federation, Inc. develops and applies artificial intelligence to predict financial and economic events that matter. The company uncovers patterns and precise drivers of performance and outcomes with the aid of machine-learning algorithms, big data, and fundamental analysis. Their products are deployed...
ICC is a computer systems integrator and server manufacturing company focused on developing products and product appliances to meet a wide range of computational needs for many industries. Their solutions provide benefits across many environments, such as datacenter deployment, HPC, workstations, storage networks and standalone server installations. ICC has been in business for over 23 years and their phenomenal range of clients include multinational corporations, universities, and small busines...
This sixteen (16) hour course provides an introduction to DevOps, the cultural and professional movement that stresses communication, collaboration, integration and automation in order to improve the flow of work between software developers and IT operations professionals. Improved workflows will result in an improved ability to design, develop, deploy and operate software and services faster.
Headquartered in Plainsboro, NJ, Synametrics Technologies has provided IT professionals and computer systems developers since 1997. Based on the success of their initial product offerings (WinSQL and DeltaCopy), the company continues to create and hone innovative products that help its customers get more from their computer applications, databases and infrastructure. To date, over one million users around the world have chosen Synametrics solutions to help power their accelerated business or per...