In 2016, IDC released its FutureScape report that made several important predictions for the IT industry and digital economy for the years ahead. One important one was that by 2020, all enterprises’ performance would be “measured by a demanding new set of digital transformation-driven benchmarks,” calling for a 20 to 100% improvement in business performance. But more importantly, the report predicted at least one third of the top companies across every industry would fail to reach these new benchmarks.
Though grim, many organizations met this fate. Why?
While the vast majority recognized the need to leverage and connect their technology systems, many overlooked that they’d also need to change the way they fundamentally operated. That to compete and thrive in this next turn of the digital economy, they’d need to think and operate as digital-native organizations. And that required more than just the right technology. They’d need to architect a connected enterprise –– something that has become even more mission critical over the last several weeks as COVID-19 has rocked the economy and businesses across nearly every sector.
Technology, alone, isn’t the issue or the solution
There’s no shortage of investment in technology and intelligence tools. According to IDC, enterprises spent $200 billion on data, analytics, and AI-powered digital tools in 2019 alone. Still, even with the tools, enterprises are challenged by developing the capabilities, systems and processes that support their digital evolution and drive real business results over the long term.
There are countless instances of organizations that invested in technology to transform their operations only to find they lacked the right team, processes, supporting systems, or architecture to successfully navigate and capitalize on the technology’s full potential. Months, if not years, often pass with poor system adoption and massive technical debt as the only outcomes to show for the time and money invested.
Visions of greater efficiency and enterprise intelligence with teams operating from one single source of truth dashed by several insidious barriers, with one overarching one being silos.
Despite the adoption of new technology, silos often remain a pervasive problem across organizations for several reasons. Typically it’s because people aren’t at the center of the transformation, there is a lack of internal alignment, and/or there isn’t a plan in place for change management.
Building a connected enterprise
On the other hand, many of the organizations that found success with their business transformation efforts shared one common theme: they shifted their focus to becoming a connected enterprise.
A connected enterprise is one that unites people, data, process, and context with the right technological solutions to empower efficient workflows and create exceptional experiences for all stakeholders. When done right, organizations realize several key benefits:
- Transparency and collaboration among geographically dispersed teams
- Company-wide adoption of technology solutions
- Increased visibility into data and shared resources
- An expanded, 360-degree view of the customer
- More informed decision making
- Ease in accessing data and resources
- Cohesion around one shared vision and set of goals
This is achieved by putting the employee experience at the center of business transformation initiatives, starting with inside-out thinking. An approach that starts with an analysis of the current infrastructure and how it’s supporting the big vision. It seeks first and foremost to create alignment across all teams and departments, with everyone driving towards a shared vision and goal.
To realize a truly connected architecture, it requires organizations to adopt a more agile and collaborative way of operating. And this is where the principles of DevOps can provide some guidance.
Aligning with DevOps principles
There are many definitions of DevOps and the meaning has evolved over the years. At MST Solutions, we think of it as a culture –– one that emphasizes people and promotes collaboration not just between development and operations, but throughout the entire organization across all business functions. DevOps bridges the gap between technology, automation, people, and process to increase the velocity of service delivery through the adoption of agile and lean practices.
These philosophies empower organizations to become connected to better tackle this extremely competitive, digital-first world where it’s all about people, automation, and speed without sacrificing quality. In fact, the same IDC report noted that enterprises that embraced DevOps and enabling technologies would dramatically increase their ability to monetize the value of their technology through products and services.
What does this look like in action and how does it support business transformation?
- It breaks down silos and supports a culture of collaboration between departments for optimal employee connection and business efficiencies
- Fosters a growth mindset and a culture of autonomy
- Bridges the gap between IT and business functions to drive strategy and business outcomes
- Prioritizes continuous communication, feedback, iteration, innovation, and agility
- Leverages data, automation, and intelligence tools like AI and machine learning to inform business decisions and optimize communication internally and externally
A truly connected enterprise is seamlessly integrated from the edge to the back office, human-centered at its core, measurable, and guided and united by a shared vision. This approach supports the development of high-velocity teams to deliver on tomorrow’s goals sooner than later, and to adopt a growth mindset and foster innovation throughout the organization.
The constant change and rapid experimentation of an agile approach increases employee and organizational-wide comfort in thinking outside the box resulting in improved ways of doing things and even new revenue streams. Today, there’s no choice but to connect everyone and everything encompassing strategy, workflows, information, technology, and infrastructure.