6 Types of Digital Transformation Denial

IT spent 30 years building an Iron tower of servers, systems, data centres, cables, wires and blinking lights. Stable. Sturdy. Built to last. With governance and risk mitigation and security. Cost-effective, efficient, cheap. Deep technical domain expertise. Layers of Infrastructure, layers of apps, layers of governance and process. Frameworks to be adhered to. Certifications upon Certifications.  And now we have to tear the whole thing down. Welcome to digital transformation.

We built IT for a static age.

It wasn’t wrong. I’m no therapist but where we are now isn’t anyone’s fault, per se. We did what was asked of us at the time, with the tools available. We were asked to make it last forever – so we favoured stability. We were asked to make it strong, we favoured security. We favoured re-use, endurance, getting max ROI. We sweated our assets, we bled them dry. We created governance and frameworks to contain the increasingly complicated nature of our systems. We created a service based orientation to mask the complexity and show some external value to our new ‘customers’ in the business. And we locked it down and sweated it out because that’s what we were supposed to do. We did what we were asked. What was needed at the time.

The Next Era.

And here we are on the brink of something. Maybe the 4th Industrial Revolution. Maybe a new way of working as mankind. It will still take time to get there, but the question of ‘if’ I think has been settled.  

In the past few years, what was a bit of a sideshow, some distracting ruckus in the corner about agile and innovation, bimodal multi-modal, cloud, Paas, and what not has gone to centre stage.  In a way, the three ring circus just went to one ring. And it’s not Barnum/Bailey, it’s Cirque du Soleil. The amuse bouche turned into the main course. It’s not that we didn’t want this new and different world of IT, much of it is super cool and fun and amazing and I want to play with it. It just happened so fast. On the whole, as a team, as a function, we weren’t ready.

In many ways, much of IT still isn’t ready. Operationally, structurally, technologically, culturally and psychologically. Very much not ready.

So, for the 80% of IT organisations who aren’t in the ‘Digital Vanguard’ – what’s stopping us?

Digital transformation denial comes in a few forms.

It’s Only a Dream

Dreamers are holding out that this rapid pace of continual upheaval will burn out, go away or really not be as much of dust-up as all these consultants and vendors say. I mean, they’re lying, right? Look at Y2K!

While dreamers are not entirely wrong about the overuse of hype to drive sales (that’s nothing new in the world of business, from travelling salesmen and snake oil right through the current GDPR hullaballoo), fundamentally it’s not going away and eventually you’ll have to turn the lights on to look at the monster in your closet.

Kick the Can

Kickers are hoping to hold out for a few more years with current companies and will do the bare minimum to keep things ticking over, but know that retirement or a new gig at a slower paced company is only a year or two away. Why do the heavy lifting now? Maybe the business isn’t ready. It’s too hard to convince them anyway. Kickers are doing a disservice to the organisation by not summoning up the courage to lead the team on to the field and embrace digital transformation.

In Name Only

Deceptors are putting ‘cloud’ on the strategy and using the language of transformation, but when you pull back the covers on a budget, spend, projects and value – it’s all the same. Eventually, they will be found out, but will it be too late for their businesses to recover? Or will businesses have moved on from shadow IT to full on LOB control of all IT services?

Just the Toes

Putting a toe in the water was great 5 years ago, but those who have committed less than 20% of IT resources to planning and executing this change are going to be run over by business who have committed to full-fledged digital, asked themselves the tough questions, committed and got on with it. Spending studies for 2018 (Gartner, Deloitte, CISR) that show quite a large chunk of IT organisations at 80% spending for ‘maintaining’ what they have and 20% on Enhancements and Application projects will find themselves up the creek in 2019. Those in the lead have reduced maintenance to 50%, Enhancement to 20% and are ploughing 30% into transform, innovate, teamwork and culture-led change strategies.

Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain 

Those who live in the land of ideas and put forth amazing slide decks about what will happen, what should happen when we all go ‘platform’, yet still struggle to run a basic IT shop (or who haven’t devolved the right services into the external service stack) are, just like the Wizard of Oz, going to have a sticky end.

Tech will Solve the Problem

When you have a big hammer, everything looks like a nail. If your digital transformation strategy is 100% technology and 0% people, you’re not playing the right game. This typically happens for many reasons, one is we know the tech stuff so well it’s our home turf and our safe space. It’s worked every single time in the past, we put in the tech and it’s all good, well mostly good. Well good enough. Logically you could look back and think going forwards that what we need is more tech, just faster. But you’d be wrong.

Like they say in every investment advertisement – past results are not an indicator of future performance. Digital Transformation is here and we (as IT, as businesses) will be transforming for many years to come, changing our colours and shapes and sizes to find what fits to survive and thrive in the post-information age. This change will take IT way outside its comfort zone. It requires people, culture, mindset shift, changes in process and practice, new measures, new ways of working with teams, vendors, partners and peers.

We think this new way of working is Relationship-First IT. Send us an email for a free cup of coffee and a chat, we’ll show you what we do and how we do it. Therapy optional. 🙂