Blog 20 Oct 2020

Digital transformation has helped you build competitive advantage. Now you need to keep it.

How do you move from digital transformation to a programme of regular improvement? BizOps and DevOps can help.

Since the nineties, businesses in all sectors have looked to digitally transform and replace manual processes with sleeker, automated digital alternatives.

Despite being around for so long, digital transformation is a bigger topic than ever. IDC estimates businesses will spend $2.3 trillion on digital transformation in 2023, accounting for more than half of all IT spending. And a Tech Pro research survey found 70% of  businesses either had a digital transformation strategy in place, or were working on one.

Yet for all the digital transformation projects that have taken place over the years, only 21% of companies think their transformation is complete. What are we to take from this statistic? To us, it means the definition of digital transformation is changing. In this blog, we’ll examine how digital transformation is moving from a one-off event to a programme of continuous improvement. We’ll also explore how enterprises can join up development, IT operations and lines of business to ensure their improvement initiatives are ready to deliver maximum impact.

For large enterprises, the low-hanging transformation fruit is gone

Digital transformation can mean many things, but a common definition is that it’s the process of replacing manual or outdated digital processes with modern, streamlined alternatives. This means it has a clear start and end. Once the new systems are in place, the transformation is over.

Clearly, this clearly is no longer the case for many businesses. While plenty of SMBs may still have manual processes that need transforming, it would be naïve to think larger enterprises haven’t already picked the low-hanging fruit. 

Yet many enterprises retain entire functions and roles designed to support digital transformation over the long term. That’s because they know it isn’t enough to transform once. To keep a lead on digitally savvy competitors, you have to be willing to transform regularly and stay up to date with the latest digital solutions and approaches.

When transformation turns to change as usual

There’s good reason to keep transformation as a rolling process. After all, conducting a ‘big bang’ change programme – while necessary at times – can be costly and disruptive. But if you consider the work done at that point, you risk needing to transform again once digital tools and approaches develop. 

But when transformation changes from big shifts to small, regular increments, when does it stop being transformation and start being part of a business’ usual change management? 

Analysts regularly discuss the importance of cultural change in digital transformation programmes. And it just might be culture that draws the line between digital transformation and other types of more regular, continuous digital change.

Once the initial transformation phase is over, firms will want to shift gears to create a culture of continuous, iterative digital improvement. That’s the only way to keep digital approaches up to date – without enduring the repeated cost and disruption of a full transformation every 5-10 years.

From ‘big bang’ transformation to continuous digital development

So, once the initial burst of transformation is complete, how do you move towards a continuous programme of digital change?

Approaches like DevOps are a good place to start, with proven processes to support continuous development – and continuous innovation. By building a streamlined release pipeline and closely integrating development and IT ops teams, businesses can make more frequent releases and continuously update digital systems to stay competitive.

However, to continue making the kinds of change that avoid repeated digital transformations, this thinking needs to go beyond just the development and operations teams.

Go beyond DevOps to BizOps

DevOps is just one part of what we call BizOps. A framework for integrating development, IT operations, and other lines of business, BizOps involves connecting business and technology functions so developers can quickly understand what the business really needs, develop those solutions, and implement them quickly.

BizOps includes DevOps as a part of its framework, but it goes beyond DevOps by ensuring development is truly designed around business outcomes. We see this added business value as the missing piece that connects DevOps back up to the loftier goals of digital transformation.

By incorporating principles of BizOps, you get the agility, cost savings and efficiency that a digital transformation programme offers, but delivered regularly as part of the continuous development you see in DevOps.

Many paths, one destination for long-term digital success 

Just as there are many paths to successful digital transformation, there’s no single way to achieve successful BizOps. It’s worth analysing your processes, approach to data, and release pipeline to find opportunities to better join up business, development, and operations.

To learn more about the BizOps framework, and the types of solutions that fit into it to help deliver digital improvements over the long term, take a look at the BizOps solution brief.

If you need help with your digital transformation journey, including how to best move from DevOps to BizOps get in touch.

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