Get out of the way!

Digital Transformation is happening, it’s the new norm.

There is a growing group of consumers who are always connected. It’s essential for business to interact with these consumers and keep pace with the demands they have, this will be a "make-or-break" transformation.

What is Digital Transformation?

In essence, Digital Transformation is the transition from physical consumer interaction to digital consumer interaction. Some of the major differences between physical and digital interaction attributes are:

  • any place, anywhere, anytime availability
  • global competition by default
  • speed and reliability of value delivery

In essence, value perception of digital consumers shifts from physical to digital. It’s the combination of this digital value perception and the new attributes of digital consumer interaction that require digitization of business processes to keep up with consumer demands and global competition.

One of the best examples of a company that embraced and created magic with digital transformation is (Large International Coffee Company). Not only has this company managed to engage customers through social media but also bridged the online and offline customer experience.

Another good example is (Coffee equipment company), which engages customers via its website, through mobile, at airport vending machines, and this has helped it to get better sales, productivity, and greater penetration into new markets.

What is wrong with current IT models and why they don’t lend themselves to Digital Transformation

Since the early 70’s there has been an evolution of IT in the enterprise. Once IT systems started to play a major and differentiating role in business processes, it became evident that processes for complete lifecycle of IT needed to be put in place to maintain availability and stability of business processes. It is essential to realize what the precise nature and genesis of current IT process implementations and their purpose are and how these led to the role that IT nowadays tries to play.

IT organizations in the past 30 to 40 years used to build, integrate, provision, deploy, operate and maintain environments manually or executed individual scripts manually. Making sure that applications and infrastructure remains available and stable in such an environment, could only be achieved by putting in place stringent policies, instructions, documentation, implementation plans, checklists and approval steps executed by individuals in often individual teams / entities. This in turn caused, that business units handing over applications or changes in applications to such an IT organization, had to wait months before being able to use these applications.

The manufacturing industry has experienced this for a long time: manual effort, rigid oversight and individual teams cause a lot of delay, loop backs, waits, queuing, etc.. hence the birth of Lean/Six Sigma to minimize this. The manufacturing industry also already knows that the only true structural solution is to remove the human factor completely and systemically automate the whole process. This currently is possible for repetitive tasks, no one can imagine what the future holds in this space but the recent rise of Artificial Intelligence could potentially make a difference for the remaining none repetitive tasks.

In the light of the Digital Transformation of business processes and the level of maturity and autonomy that cloud platforms offer to the business, the role of the existing IT organization in the enterprise needs to be revisited. The old paradigm of “give us your application and we will try to run it on your terms” no longer makes sense for those business processes and applications that need to adapt quickly to customers interacting digitally, expecting instant and up to date services and products. IT organizations not wanting to face this reality end up in a complete and utter disconnect between what the business needs and IT is able to provide.

Cloud platforms (like Azure) provide programmatic interfaces to systemic platform automation, but also still provide the possibility to build, integrate, operate and maintain systems manually.

Most IT organizations will have a look at this and think …..we can just do our same trick and keep our jobs!. Let’s do that and move applications to the cloud without stepping aside. In fact, current IT organizations need to get out of the way and make way for systemic automation (much alike the manufacturing industry has done).

Given the previously mentioned business/IT disconnect, often IT organizations are bypassed by business units completely. These business units just start using cloud platforms without consulting the IT organization, until interfaces to legacy environments are needed and “s**t hits the fan”…!

It takes very brave CIO’s/CTO’s, IT managers and employees with a “growth mindset” that enable business units to design, build, integrate, provision, deploy, operate and maintain their applications and code required to configure the required supporting cloud platform services (DevOps + Release pipeline) through programmatic interfaces connected to systemic platform automation and locked down target platform environments (no manual interaction/modification possible for Dev’s and Ops). Once it’s designed, built, integrated and tested, it’s deployed/installed through automation not humans.

Principles of Modern Service Management and how they support Digital Transformation

Microsoft defined a lens to modernize service management, this lens now is called Modern Service Management ©.

“A lens intended to focus ITSM experts around the globe on the most important outcomes that evolve our customers from legacy, traditional IT models toward easier, more efficient, cost effective and agile service structures”

This lens got birth by answering the following hypotheses “what if there would be no IT organization in an enterprise, just business units and cloud services” would there still be something that’s required to do (regulation/policy) or something that has such value that the business (or the company as a whole) wants to pay for it?

What it takes to transform IT that support Digital Transformation

  1. assume there’s no central IT organization (shift left)
  2. don’t confuse governance with getting in-between (approval step)
  3. avoid/remove enforcement, organize insight and a-sync governance (manage the exceptions not the regular)
  4. change to Continuous and Autonomous Change for System of Differentiation (Gartner TM) (where DT occurs most often)
  5. let go of certain practices

Some practices on the surface seem like the right idea, problem is they don’t improve or change easily or quickly (full service desk vs. self-service, manual vs. automated/code incorporated testing, etc.)


Examples of Success

Customer Quote:

“Now I’ve implemented this autonomy, the 'IT function' is actually contributing the most value to my business, business units / sales are the new bottlenecks they cannot longer hide behind IT not delivering".

 Paul Fijnvandraat started at Microsoft in January 2011 as Technical Presales and moved to Microsoft Consulting Services in October 2013 as Principal Consultant. Prior to joining Microsoft he was Chief Technology Officer on a large outsourcing contract for HP Enterprise Services. He has been working in IT for almost 30 years within various roles. As principal consultant he supports enterprise customers by translating their business and IT objectives into changes needed in their organization, processes, technology and people in complex heterogenic environments. In his own words: "Creating breakthroughs in paradigms, beliefs and behaviors that deliver business value outcomes.”.