Beyond digital transformation BS, improving your organization by fixing your software strategy
The phrase “digital transformation” is mostly bull-shit, but then again, it’s perfect. The phrase means executing a strategy to innovate new business models driven by rapidly delivered, well designed, and agile software. For many businesses, fixing their long dormant, lame software capabilities is an urgent need: companies like Amazon loom as over-powering competitors in most every industry. More threatening, clever, existing enterprises have honed their ability software capabilities over the past five years.
Liberty Mutual, for example, entered a new insurance market on the other side of the world in 6 months, doubling the average close rate. Home Depot has grown it’s online business by around $1bn each of the past four years, is the #2 ranked digital retailer by Gartner L2, and is adding more than 1,000 technical hires in 2018. The US Air Force modernized their air tanker scheduling process in 120 days, driving $1m in fuel savings each week, and leading to canceling a long-standing $745m contract that hadn’t delivered a single line of code in five years.
Whatever businesses you’re in, able, ruthless competition is coming from all sides: new entrants and existing behemoths. Their success is driven by an agile, cloud-driven software strategy that transforms their organizations into agile businesses.
Let’s take a breath.
That’s some full tilt bluster, but we’ve been in an era of transient advantage for a long time. Businesses need every tool they can lay hands on to grow their business, sustain their existing cash-flows, and fend off competitors. IT has always been a powerful tool for enabling strategies, as they say, but in the past 10 years seemingly helpful but actually terrible practices like outsourcing have ruined most IT department’s ability to create useful software for the businesses they supposedly support.
These organizations need to improve how they do software to transform their organizations into programmable businesses.
Studying how large organizations plan for, initially fail, and then succeed at this kind of transformation is what I spend my time doing. This book (which I’m still working on) collects together what I’ve found so far, and is constructed from the actual experiences and stories of people of who’ve suffered through the long journey to success.
Enjoy! And next time someone rolls their eyes at the phrase “digital transformation,” ask them, “well, what better phrase you got, chuckle-head?”
I’m posting draft chapters of this book as I MVP-polish them up. In sort of the right order, here they are:
- Why change?
- Spraying the bullshit of “vision” & “strategy”.
- Communicate the digital vision and strategy.
- Creating a culture of change, continuous learning, & comfort.
- Enterprise architecture still matters.
- Creating alliances & holding zero-sum trolls at bay.
- A series of small projects, building momentum to scale.
- Product teams — agile done right.
- Team composition: not all ninjas.
- Tracking your improvement — “metrics.”
- Dealing with compliance — it might even be a good idea.
- Speed, from John Mitchell.