Are you REALLY doing Digital Transformation?

Digital Transformation is a buzzword bandied around in IT teams, outsourcers and consultancies these days. But how far into the realm of major Digital Transformation has your organisation gone? Or is it a simple case of a small transition project that is being touted as the solution to major IT problems? In this article, we identify the “levels” of Digital Transformation that we see as integration specialists and what outcomes you are likely to receive.

We at IntegrationWorks do a lot of integration strategy which, coupled with growth strategy, forms the basis of Digital Transformation.  As we consult, we like to understand how deep the motivations and aspirations to transform really go. Some businesses like the idea of Digital Transformation but the hurdles and barriers to entry are high. Gathering a good understanding of the problems and motivations behind a transformation project helps us to both deliver on them whilst helping our clients understand the benefits of going further than their immediate aspirations.

We like to think of our clients’ Digital Transformation aspirations on a scale, or basic maturity model of completion. This scale can identify the resources, time, budget and compliance measures needed to undertake a successful Digital Transformation piece.

We break it down into these four levels:

Level 1 – Solution oriented only. Immediate break-fix or stop-gap to get the system running.  

An example of this can be to deliver a project or two to create new mobile applications to end users. This is a relatively small piece of work that will open up a new channel, but not affect major core processes. It’s relatively low cost, with minimal project backing approvals required so kick off can be almost immediate. Typical goals for achievement sometimes include zero to minimal impact on revenue and not a major impact to business processes, so perhaps will just keep the client inline (if not just behind) with their competitors and the industry in terms of digital service offering. 

Level 2 – Departmental focus. Build a new team.

Some organisations struggle with merging traditional IT teams with new digital services and skills. So why try to merge them when you can build an entire new Digital team or department? The only catch would be the sometimes challenge of running a 2-speed IT shop where components of services needs to bridge between both traditional and digital tribes. There is a medium cost impact here, so requirement for a CIO or C-Suite approval. Typical goals for this type of solution is have a minimal impact on revenue (as you are increasing staff and process headcount) but will ultimately keep you up with the industry and how enterprises are evolving their traditional structures.

Level 3 – IT domination. Take over the whole thing. 

To run the entire IT shop to serve Digital at digital speeds is the aspiration of many enterprises these days. In theory, the IT shop would be delivering at pace with a combination of microservices, API and continuous delivery structures to keep flexibility, agility and scalability front-of-mind. There’s a high cost to investment, so a CEO and CFO would need to understand the concept before they can back it/approve it. It comes with a major impact on revenue and investment, but will (if done correctly) will ensure the enterprise leads the industry for 1 – 3 years while bolting on new services and having the flexibility to turn the ship around quickly. 

Level 4 – Self-transformational. Let the beast evolve on it’s own.

The unicorn of the IT systems and business world is to have a business and IT that is unified – single thought, common goal and aligned. This is developed through a combination of agile technologies, minimal bureaucracy and strong vision of the goal. With this environment, business and IT are able to self-transform to serve the next drive of business outcomes and create new services and processes quickly. This involves supporting business units in benefiting from their own IT capabilities.  The cost is generally unknown at this point, a large investment in technology and business process is required but ultimately pays off. A business leading with this this model can expect to have major impacts on revenue streams, bolting on new revenue channels frequently and holding onto dominant market share. This type of IT-driven organisation leads and creates new markets with their ability to utilise IT to automate, standardise and offer fast-service customer-oriented services.

Where does your organisation fit on this scale? Where does senior leadership envisage it to be in comparison to it’s competitors?

Typically businesses that want to go faster may hit challenges such as being constantly constrained by a network of people, process and technology dependencies i.e. if ‘x’ is altered in the structure, then how does it affect ‘y’. We generally find that businesses have the appetite for Level 3 or 4 Digital Transformation but when the barriers to entry or success are too far-sighted or expensive, then executive approvals only go to Level 1 which is not really a transformation, or in the likely case of a huge IT architectural overhaul, it is common for executives to focus only on one-off transformation projects (Level 2, sometimes 3) but miss the focus of preparing their systems for the future or 3 years down the line, thus triggering a wash, rinse, repeat effect.

Most of our clients are well on the journey to Digital Transformation, regardless of level they are currently at. The ultimate aim here is to allow businesses to change faster, deliver products and services to customers faster, beat the competition and reduce risks. We work with them closely to develop strategy, powerful roadmaps for future paths, supplying thought-leadership and hands-on people-power in the form of integration architects, developers and operations analysts. We work with a variety of global technology companies, such as IBM, Dell Boomi, MuleSoft and SAP to deliver innovative solutions that work. To learn more about us, check out

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