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Digital Transformation

Are Cloud & DevOps Factored Into Your Digital Transformation?

The term “Digital Transformation” is very broad and all encompassing, but more recently has become mostly closely associated with the activities and strategies to compete against disruptive trends brought about by new business models emerging due to availability of new digital platforms. Within the last decade we have seen an emergence of very economical compute infrastructure, wireless and broadband, and software platforms that enable rapid development of applications, which can scale to support millions of simultaneous users. What would have cost companies hundreds of thousands in investment just five short years ago can now be delivered for tens of thousands.
shutterstock_100605349But, availability does not equate to disruption. Disruption is formed because individuals and small teams can now afford to quickly translate their ideas into usable applications. Moreover, they can continuously innovate on their original idea in a rapid manner allowing them to a) test new concepts with their consumers to ascertain the level of further investment and b) add new capabilities that keep their audience engaged and continuing to use their product.
When these disruptive businesses are compared to an established businesses that have significant investments in large-scale enterprise software and have built up technical debt—a concept that describes how system design choices continually incur a penalty until corrected—the disruptive businesses have the advantage of being more nimble and more responsive to users’ needs. Somewhere you can hear the CEO of one of these more established businesses screaming to the CIO, “Engine room, I need more power,” and the CIO responding, “I’m giving you all she’s got Captain!”
The truth of the matter is, the CIO may be giving all he/she has, but that’s because they haven’t reconfigured their engines to use the latest technology. More succinctly, many businesses are still confused by or misunderstand the risk and value proposition for using public cloud service providers. Moreover, they have not addressed the bottlenecks and constraints that limit their ability to deliver functionality and capabilities to their business users more quickly with high quality, such as is provided by adopting DevOps concepts and practices.
If technical debt addresses too little investment in upgrading, poor vendor selection, bad platform selection, etc. then, many businesses have also built up organizational debt. Organizational debt could be over regulation, too many low-value policies, to much middle management attempting to hold onto their area of control, and too much governance. If these are not revisited often to ensure that they are continually adding value for the cost of reducing throughput, then that organizational debt will continue to increase backlog
Change is difficult. Transformation is exponentially more difficult than change. This Harvard Business Review article entitled, “We Still Don’t Know the Difference Between Change and Transformation,” does a great job of explaining the difference between change management and transformation. As described in the article transformation deals with reinvention. Reinvention, in turn, will require businesses to revisit their long-held beliefs for how to deliver their products and services. I posit that businesses that cannot harness the cloud and DevOps will not be able to successfully make the digital transformation and, as pointed out in this summary of a recent Accenture/HfS Research report will lose ground to competitors quickly in the next couple of years.

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JP Morgenthal

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