Why Is IT Transformation Such a Hot Topic?
By Betsy Burton
Why Is IT transformation Such a Hot Topic?
CIOs and IT leaders are always asking us what they need to do to support IT transformation. This is a laudable aspiration; however it misses the real opportunity and challenge that is actually facing most organizations.
To reduce the risk of wasting money and resources supporting change or transformation that organizations may not need, it is critical that IT and business leaders determine what type of change or transformation they are really needing.
Understand What You Really Need
When IT leaders ask about IT transformation, they may be actually asking about different possible activities, including business transformation, business optimization, business automation or IT modernization. Let’s take a minute to explore each of these. Please note, I will add a $ to signify the people, process, information and technology costs of each of these approaches.
- Business Transformation ($$$$$) means your organization is specifically designing new business strategies, models, and operations to support new business models (such as digital business) and changing existing solutions, systems, processes, and information to support new business models.
- Business Automation ($$$) is the use of technology and services to reduce human work. Implementing business automation can help organizations improve quality of services, simplify processes, or even reduce costs.
- Business Optimization ($$) means you are working on making existing business processes and systems more efficient by removing roadblocks, enhancing services and technologies, and reducing wasted processes.
- IT Modernization ($$$) is the process of upgrading existing IT systems. This may include upgrading hardware, moving some (or all) IT services to cloud-based systems. The key is that IT modernization is leaving existing systems, services, processes, and solutions largely unchanged.
See, the costs (time, energy and money) of each of these options is very different. Your executives may say they want “IT transformation” but they might really mean “IT modernization” or “business transformation.”
Digital Transformation Is the Same as Business Transformation
Please note some vendors like SalesForce talk about “digital transformation”. In most cases, when they talk about this it is the same as business transformation.
At Aragon we choose to refer to this as business transformation in order to ensure that our audience understands that business/digital transformation is a business issue first and foremost, enabled by IT systems.
Most organizations don’t actually transform their whole entire business, or even modernize their whole entire IT infrastructure.
In most cases, organizations transform the parts of the business they are trying to grow into new markets and business models. They optimize the parts of the business they are trying to keep at a steady state. And they might modernize their IT systems in support of business automation or optimization efforts.
There is No Such Thing as IT Transformation
The reality is, if your organization is seeking to transform (American Dictionary: to completely change the appearance or character of something or someone) the impact will be on business, people, process, partners and IT systems.
You cannot transform IT systems without impacting people, business, processes, and information. Organizations that try to just transform IT will risk wasting money and running into major business roadblocks.
The reason “IT transformation” gets so much hype is that CIOs and IT leaders are trying to do something to help the business. In addition, business leaders use this term because they are wanting IT leaders to just fix their business issues. Both desires are understandable. But they will not get you what you need and could waste a lot of money and resources.
I know…..I know, this clarification can feel a bit academic. But it’s not. It is critical that organizations seeking to make changes clearly understand what they are really seeking to do and invest appropriately.