With increasing digitization across industries, a company’s technology capability stands central to competitiveness and growth. However, achieving meaningful impact at scale often eludes aspirations. Though priorities like cloud, automation and data pervade strategic plans, more than two-thirds of technology transformation initiatives fail to fully realize objectives.
By examining patterns linked to the world’s financially top-performing enterprises, the blueprint for success comes into sharp relief compared to those missing the mark. This analysis explores the systemic, interlinked dimensions these leaders consistently orchestrate to turn technology investments into demonstrable business value beyond peers. Their methods also suggest a model for re-examining existing efforts that may be underperforming.
Fusing Tech and Business Strategy
Rather than viewing modernization through a purely technical lens, leaders bake digital advances into business strategy itself for amplified outcomes. The technology agenda flows directly from core commercial priorities and challenges to address. Cross-functional collaboration between business and technology leadership often starts at the earliest planning stages through execution milestones to ensure alignment. The key insight driving this fusion recognizes technology as essential means, not discrete ends detached from strategic value drivers. Customer experience, geographic expansion, supply chain resilience and more form focal points that technology improvements attach to and enhance versus generic modernization detached from core objectives. Joint ownership for delivering against these shared goals breaks down legacy silos impeding impact.
Taking a Comprehensive Approach
Piecemeal efforts restricted to narrow domains inevitably struggle compared to methodically elevating foundational pillars in concert: talent, security, infrastructure and so on. Top performing companies undertake more concurrent initiatives across these areas. But more critically, they gain compounding advantages from interrelationships between moves – insights unavailable to incremental programs in isolation. For example, over 50% pursuing security upgrades concurrently invested in upgrading underlying data architecture and analytics proficiency. As platforms generate richer instrumentation, protection improves apace through behavioral monitoring, automated threat modeling and predictive response ahead of manual measures. A positive feedback loop results. Leaders recognize and exploit these synergies through long range planning absent elsewhere.
Modernizing the Technology Core
Legacy constraints like technical debt or outdated stacks significantly retard competitive responsiveness today. Top companies proactively harness infrastructure automation, cloud platforms and other advances allowing faster deployment at higher quality. They build integrated data ecosystems with security ingrained by design to securely unlock speed and innovation. By contrast, laggards often struggle orienting sufficient focus and resources toward foundational renewal amid competing priorities. They accumulate vulnerabilities while battling to keep pace with peer innovation surfacing in the market. However, lobbying the business case for deep, intricate infrastructure overhauls also proves difficult, resulting in piecemeal patches allowing instability to compound.
Optimizing Talent Strategies
Even with technology playing an outsize competitiveness role, most organizations find acquiring and retaining critical talent extremely challenging. But leaders still stand apart nurturing cultures, development paths and recruiting channels others struggle emulating. They excel at upskilling teams for new delivery models and automation’s shift from rote tasks. Top talent also concentrates globally, demanding localized, niche communities of expertise be supported online and worldwide. Digital collaboration tools allowing global knowledge sharing receive heavy investment. Feedback loops informing talent development originate closer to the work itself rather than top down decrees detached from ground realities.
Ingraining Business Focus into Operating Models
Streamlined IT operating models are a common modernization goal. But leaders surpass restructuring alone by ingraining business focus into new structures. Cross-functional product teams deliver clearly defined outcomes rather than outputs tossed over the fence. This engenders shared accountability and visibility up chains of command. Architectures likewise shift from monoliths to orchestrated microservices modularizing business capabilities for iteration or reuse. Small, focused teams build for extensibility and integration using lean methods and infrastructure as code. Security, reliability and recoverability become baked in rather than tacked on.Combined with automated testing and deployment pipelines, feature velocity increases multifold while minimizing instability. These gains require accompanying maturity in architectural principles and platform thinking to fully materialize, again underscoring the integration across all elements.
Evaluate and improve the transformation
The final element of a successful technology transformation is a continuous and systematic learning that evaluates and improves the change. Learning should answer the questions:
- What are the results and outcomes of the transformation?
- What are the lessons learned and best practices from the transformation?
- How can we improve and optimize the transformation?
Learning should also involve the reflection and feedback of the different actors and stakeholders in the transformation. It should capture and share the knowledge and insights that are generated from the transformation, as well as the challenges and issues that are encountered and resolved. It should foster a culture of innovation and improvement, where new ideas and opportunities are identified and pursued. Learning should be aligned with the vision and the strategy of the organization, and should inform and influence the future direction and actions of the organization.
Some examples of learning activities for technology transformations are:
- A post-implementation review that assesses the performance and outcomes of the technology projects, as well as the benefits and challenges of the transformation, using the data and metrics that were collected and reported during the execution phase.
- A knowledge management system that documents and disseminates the lessons learned and best practices from the technology projects, as well as the feedback and suggestions from the customers and the market, using various channels and formats, such as reports, presentations, videos, podcasts, or blogs.
- A continuous improvement process that identifies and implements the changes and enhancements that can improve and optimize the technology projects, as well as the new initiatives and projects that can advance and expand the transformation, using the knowledge and insights that were generated and shared during the learning phase.
Technology transformation encompasses far beyond solutions alone, demanding holistic realignment reaching across talent, security, data and more. By studying patterns among top performing organizations, the necessity of comprehensive over piecemeal approaches reveals itself along with nuances enabling synergies between concurrent investments. Though the blueprint exists, conviction remains essential to depart ingrained models and mindsets rooted in legacy assumptions. With focus, deliberate cross-functional partnership and long range planning, the dividends from addressing interdependent strategic technology capabilities in unison will unfold.