‘Transformation’ isn’t about adopting technology

Published on the 01/09/2016 | Written by Donovan Jackson


bitsnbytes_digital transformation

Don’t get stuck on the bits and bytes in the march to digital transformation…

The orthodoxy today is that unless your business is seriously looking at ‘digital transformation’, it could be in trouble. And while it is rapidly becoming cliché, that in itself doesn’t mean digital transformation isn’t a ‘thing’. In any event, tacking the topic du jour, LANDesk product evangelist Matt Hooper pointed out that adopting technology towards transformation is no guarantee of success.

But first, that job title. Hooper himself isn’t oblivious to its oddness (and it is far from unique in the technology industry) and with a chuckle explained what it involves. “There’s a lot of internal training on what IT operations is going through, from productivity, security and management, and corporate governance, on what ITSM was and what it is becoming. IT has gone from being a ‘department’ to being a ‘competency’, where IT companies are able to offer differentiated services like healthcare, travel and transport and others. The digital economy has changed the game, so as a vendor, we too have had to change.”

Hooper, as the representative of an ITSM software provider, told iStart that he considers himself an expert on digital transformation. “As a ‘transformationalist’, I help organisations adopt digital strategies – and merely adopting technology in the pursuit of digital transformation doesn’t mean you will be successful,” he explained.

Since the definitions of digital transformation can be quite varied, what is Hooper’s take on it? “It’s about finding the next physical constraint and removing it. For Netflix, it was the hassle of going to the corner store, so they shipped DVDs with a return envelope. As it got deeper into the digital world, it eliminated more barriers, driving up convenience and value. The human interface is still the most important thing, but where you can tear down barriers, that’s really what digital transformation is about.”

He’d mentioned that ITSM is changing. To what, we wanted to know. “From a traditional internal model of control applied to IT support and a catalogue of services that the business requires, and with movements like DevOps, Agile and Scrum, it is changing to a view where end-customers are the ones that IT should be focusing on,” he said.

Identifying just who those customers are is unsurprisingly pretty important. But just who they are isn’t always obvious. For internal IT departments, the customer is often perceived to be the employee, who in turn may be serving customers in the more traditionally-understood manner. “Those end customers are the important ones that you should be should be focusing on,” Hooper noted.

He said that applied to any business. “You need to identify and know the constraints, you need a value-chain view and you need to control and manage that entire value-chain, and the feedback loops.”

That, said Hooper, sets the stage for IT to become more experimental and experiential, “to find out what works and what doesn’t and make the adjustments quickly. We live in an economy where business models are unpredictable, so the ability to create and evaluate new dynamic digital business models is essential.”

Rigid approaches to ITSM have to go out of the window, along with a preoccupation with audits. “We see structures which are so geared towards preventing certain outcomes [like shadow IT] that they cause that very outcome. If you make things difficult, people bypass them. And audit can be a complete waste of time. Some of the organisations that do the most internal auditing have the most significant outages; they are so risk-averse that they are not willing to, for example, set up automation which could have prevented those outages in the first place.”

Questions or comments...

  1. Brendan

    Great interview. Companies that don’t adapt and transition to the digital economy could be obsolete will be obsolete within the next 5 – 10 years and need to address this great threat now before it’s too late, and I don’t think there is a silver bullet just yet.

    Reply

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