This post was written after an interview with Danielle Leonard, Softtek’s Global Practice Leader of IT Transformation. Leonard shared her deep insights into the process of IT transformation. The following article is a result of that interview.
When the first iPhone was released on June 29, 2007, it represented a radical change in our relationship with cell phones – and the world. It was beautiful, simple-to-use, and it immediately made physical keyboards redundant.
But when the App Store was introduced the following year, the world of technology and business changed – forever.
We went from using phones with capabilities baked into the hardware and firmware, to phones that, with the availability of thousands of apps, “…made the iPhone into, well, whatever you wanted it to be,” as CNN said.
But the change was more than technological. The change represented a change in mindset. We became used to the “app” metaphor, which suddenly transformed our view of what’s possible.
And the app metaphor is a perfect way to explain what is happening with IT transformation today.
The term ‘IT Transformation’ has been gaining in popularity as traditional IT organizations within some of the largest and oldest corporations learn to adapt to the disruptive changes in business and technology.
As Google Trends shows, searches for the term ‘IT Transformation’ have risen dramatically over the last 10 years.
But exactly what is IT transformation, and what does it have to do with the app store?
First, a little background.
According to Leonard, “Gartner recently said that 60% of organizations are involved in enterprise transformation initiatives, and 49% of organizations are involved in digital strategy & transformation initiatives to reinvent themselves. “
Leonard told me that organizations are starting to make change their “new normal,” since change is the only thing that’s for certain in today’s technologically driven business landscape.
Through a journey of technological modernization, process standardization, and mindset changes, organizations must go from a static to a dynamic IT engine that can deal with anything new. They must become agile in order to respond to change.
“The digital world we now operate in requires a radically different corporate culture — one that adds the magic of the “unicorn” companies like Facebook and Splunk back into the workplace of the average “horse” in industry – an obsession with improving the customer experience and encouraging a more open, collaborative approach to innovation.”
Changing the mindset in a company from “the less I spend on IT, the better,” to “technological change is the new normal, so how much business can IT help me win?” will help create an organization that can anticipate and react fast to technology innovators and disrupters, which is an important trait for a dynamic organization.
IT transformation is many things. It’s about innovating how solutions are designed, developed and deployed – the people and process component.
But it’s also about the technology platform. And here’s where my iPhone app metaphor comes into play.
On your phone when a newer, better app is released, you don't deal with the app. The app vendor deals with it. You can purchase it, or you can drop it at your pleasure.
Instead of owning and operating your own data center (which today is an absolute no-no), utilize virtualization and cloud services instead. When you must respond to change - it's not your IT organization that has to deal with it - your IT vendor will deal with it. You focus on your core competencies.
This is a change in mindset: you can now drop technologies and add them without disrupting your organization - just like an iPhone.
Let’s say you’re a car manufacturer. Now you can focus on becoming a world-class car innovator, instead of trying to keep up with the endless cycle of server and hardware innovations. Plus, changing your hardware footprint to stay competitive can get expensive.
But if you change to a virtual technology footprint, instead of replacing hardware you're just paying a service provider to give you the latest and greatest hardware when you need it.
It used to be that you would replace an ERP system or your hardware footprint every 3-10 years. Change came and went, and you could rest in between changes.
Now change is the new normal. You must free your organization from having to maintain and upgrade hardware and software. Your ticket to freedom is to view your IT infrastructure as you view the app store: add or subtract services at will, when you need them, without dealing with the hassles of actually owning the infrastructure.
And what will you do with the extra time and money you free up? Invest them on innovation to become the best in your industry.