Welcome!

SDN Journal Authors: Stefan Bernbo, Michel Courtoy, Amitabh Sinha, Mike Wood, Liz McMillan

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Microservices Expo, @DevOpsSummit

@CloudExpo: Blog Post

Digital Transformation: It’s the Customer, Stupid! | @CloudExpo #DX #Cloud #Agile

One of the core tenants of organizational change is that the leader must create a compelling vision of the future

Digital Transformation: It's the Customer, Stupid!
By Charles Araujo, Intellyx Principal Analyst

If you cannot explicitly articulate how investing in a new technology, changing the approach or re-engineering the business process will help you achieve your customer-centric vision of the future in direct and measurable ways, you probably shouldn't be doing it.

At Intellyx, we spend a lot of time talking to technology vendors. In our conversations, we explore emerging new technologies that are either disrupting the way enterprise organizations work or that help enable those organizations to cope with disruption.

The rate at which new companies and new technologies are emerging is staggering, and it can be difficult to keep up - even for those of us whose sole job is to do so. It's no wonder, therefore, that so many people draw a straight line between the concept of digital transformation and these emerging technologies. Unfortunately, it's the wrong line.

One of the core tenants of organizational change is that the leader must create a compelling vision of the future before any real change will occur. People must come to believe in this vision and must be able to see themselves within it before they will do the hard and often threatening work of changing their behavior.

By definition, digital transformation is an exercise in organizational change. Therefore, it is essential that anyone leading a transformational effort craft this compelling vision of the future. And that's why connecting digital transformation to emerging technologies is so dangerous: it's the wrong vision.

Digital Transformation's Philosophical Center
Digital transformation is not and has never been about technology. Technology is the engine that powers it, but the true essence of digital transformation has always been about changing the way organizations - and even the whole of society - work.

On a macro scale, we often talk about digital transformation as the fundamental shift in how organizations structure themselves and how their leaders manage and lead them - with technology underpinning the transformation.

The challenge with that definition is that it sounds so, well, big and gnarly. Changing the fundamental ways that you structure, manage and lead an organization is not just something you do on a whim. It takes courage, a whole lot of resources and a willingness to bet your organization's future - not to mention your career - on the outcome.

As a result, too many organizations are willing to accept a lighter, less destructive - and less risky - version of digital transformation. Whether by focusing on the technology or by setting only small, incremental goals and simply slapping the transformation moniker on it, many business and technology leaders are unwilling to step up and put forward a compelling vision of the future that represents this kind of fundamental change.

But it doesn't need to be that hard or complex. The key to making digital transformation less big and scary and to being able to create a compelling vision that will lead the organization forward is to get down to its philosophical core: the primacy of the customer.

The Shift to Customer Centricity
The full realization of digital transformation is an immense and involved process (for a visual representation, check out our digital transformation poster). There are a lot of moving parts that cover everything from those emerging technologies to the re-envisioning of business models to new approaches to IT execution and business management - and plenty more in between.

But at the center of all of those moving parts for every real digital transformation story is the shift to customer centricity and its emergence as the foundational driver of change. The principal underpinning of the transition out of the industrial age and into the digital era is the empowerment of the customer.

In the industrial age, it was all about mass producing a product or service. Organizations focused their basic operating paradigm on creating efficiency and eliminating waste so that they could reduce costs to either increase earnings or create competitive advantage.

The consumerization of technology changed all of this. New competitors found that they could disrupt industries by empowering the customer and offering them choice and flexibility. The digital era fundamentally represents a shift away from the mass-market operating paradigm to a customer-centric one.

At Intellyx, we call this phenomenon the ‘primacy of the customer,' and understanding its true meaning will help you craft your digital transformation vision, apply emerging technologies appropriately and keep your organization on the right path as you move forward.

Your True North: The Customer
When you boil down all of the complexity of digital transformation to this core idea of the primacy of the customer, it gets much simpler - and more meaningful. Many of the crazy stories we hear about digital transformation programs gone wrong are almost always because this focus either never existed or was lost along the way.

The easiest way to use this idea in your transformational efforts is to start by crafting your future vision with the primacy of the customer in mind. If your vision does not put the customer at the center of the story, you're almost certainly off base.

A compelling vision told from the customer's perspective ensures that you will not be overly focused on the technology, the organizational design or any other inward facing construct.

Once you have created that customer-centered transformational vision it should then become what we call your ‘true north.' Like ancient sailors using the north star to orient themselves in open waters, your vision should become the overriding benchmark by which you measure your efforts and decisions.

When you use it correctly, it is an incredibly powerful and simple mechanism to check yourself and your organization and ensure that you're making the right decisions for the right reasons. You can evaluate even the most technical project or decision in this way.

If you cannot explicitly articulate how investing in a new technology, changing the approach or re-engineering the business process will help you achieve your customer-centric vision of the future in direct and measurable ways, you probably shouldn't be doing it.

If you can, on the other hand, then you should be moving full steam ahead.

The Intellyx Take
The digital transformation stakes are enormous. But you don't need to make it more complicated than it needs to be.

Digital transformation is an ongoing journey that demands a fundamental shift in almost every aspect of how organizations function. It's heady stuff, to be sure. But at its core, it all boils down to the primacy of the customer.

Organizations who fail to recognize this fundamental truth will struggle with their transformational efforts and see massive investments of time and money spin out of control. Or, just as likely, they will fail to take the bold steps necessary to actually transform anything.

Both outcomes will be a result of losing (or never having) sight of their true customer-focused vision. Those organizations, however, that can craft this vision and then keep it at the center of their efforts will realize the true promise of digital transformation.

Copyright © Intellyx LLC. Intellyx publishes the Agile Digital Transformation Roadmap poster, advises companies on their digital transformation initiatives, and helps vendors communicate their agility stories. As of the time of writing, none of the organizations mentioned in this article are Intellyx customers. Image source: Nick Youngson.

More Stories By Jason Bloomberg

Jason Bloomberg is the leading expert on architecting agility for the enterprise. As president of Intellyx, Mr. Bloomberg brings his years of thought leadership in the areas of Cloud Computing, Enterprise Architecture, and Service-Oriented Architecture to a global clientele of business executives, architects, software vendors, and Cloud service providers looking to achieve technology-enabled business agility across their organizations and for their customers. His latest book, The Agile Architecture Revolution (John Wiley & Sons, 2013), sets the stage for Mr. Bloomberg’s groundbreaking Agile Architecture vision.

Mr. Bloomberg is perhaps best known for his twelve years at ZapThink, where he created and delivered the Licensed ZapThink Architect (LZA) SOA course and associated credential, certifying over 1,700 professionals worldwide. He is one of the original Managing Partners of ZapThink LLC, the leading SOA advisory and analysis firm, which was acquired by Dovel Technologies in 2011. He now runs the successor to the LZA program, the Bloomberg Agile Architecture Course, around the world.

Mr. Bloomberg is a frequent conference speaker and prolific writer. He has published over 500 articles, spoken at over 300 conferences, Webinars, and other events, and has been quoted in the press over 1,400 times as the leading expert on agile approaches to architecture in the enterprise.

Mr. Bloomberg’s previous book, Service Orient or Be Doomed! How Service Orientation Will Change Your Business (John Wiley & Sons, 2006, coauthored with Ron Schmelzer), is recognized as the leading business book on Service Orientation. He also co-authored the books XML and Web Services Unleashed (SAMS Publishing, 2002), and Web Page Scripting Techniques (Hayden Books, 1996).

Prior to ZapThink, Mr. Bloomberg built a diverse background in eBusiness technology management and industry analysis, including serving as a senior analyst in IDC’s eBusiness Advisory group, as well as holding eBusiness management positions at USWeb/CKS (later marchFIRST) and WaveBend Solutions (now Hitachi Consulting).

@CloudExpo Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that Datanami has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Datanami is a communication channel dedicated to providing insight, analysis and up-to-the-minute information about emerging trends and solutions in Big Data. The publication sheds light on all cutting-edge technologies including networking, storage and applications, and the...
SYS-CON Events announced today that EnterpriseTech has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. EnterpriseTech is a professional resource for news and intelligence covering the migration of high-end technologies into the enterprise and business-IT industry, with a special focus on high-tech solutions in new product development, workload management, increased effi...
You know you need the cloud, but you’re hesitant to simply dump everything at Amazon since you know that not all workloads are suitable for cloud. You know that you want the kind of ease of use and scalability that you get with public cloud, but your applications are architected in a way that makes the public cloud a non-starter. You’re looking at private cloud solutions based on hyperconverged infrastructure, but you’re concerned with the limits inherent in those technologies.
For organizations that have amassed large sums of software complexity, taking a microservices approach is the first step toward DevOps and continuous improvement / development. Integrating system-level analysis with microservices makes it easier to change and add functionality to applications at any time without the increase of risk. Before you start big transformation projects or a cloud migration, make sure these changes won’t take down your entire organization.
Cloud promises the agility required by today’s digital businesses. As organizations adopt cloud based infrastructures and services, their IT resources become increasingly dynamic and hybrid in nature. Managing these require modern IT operations and tools. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Raj Sundaram, Senior Principal Product Manager at CA Technologies, will discuss how to modernize your IT operations in order to proactively manage your hybrid cloud and IT environments. He will be sharing bes...
A look across the tech landscape at the disruptive technologies that are increasing in prominence and speculate as to which will be most impactful for communications – namely, AI and Cloud Computing. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Curtis Peterson, VP of Operations at RingCentral, highlighted the current challenges of these transformative technologies and shared strategies for preparing your organization for these changes. This “view from the top” outlined the latest trends and developments i...
Automation is enabling enterprises to design, deploy, and manage more complex, hybrid cloud environments. Yet the people who manage these environments must be trained in and understanding these environments better than ever before. A new era of analytics and cognitive computing is adding intelligence, but also more complexity, to these cloud environments. How smart is your cloud? How smart should it be? In this power panel at 20th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, paneli...
Hardware virtualization and cloud computing allowed us to increase resource utilization and increase our flexibility to respond to business demand. Docker Containers are the next quantum leap - Are they?! Databases always represented an additional set of challenges unique to running workloads requiring a maximum of I/O, network, CPU resources combined with data locality.
SYS-CON Events announced today that MobiDev, a client-oriented software development company, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MobiDev is a software company that develops and delivers turn-key mobile apps, websites, web services, and complex software systems for startups and enterprises. Since 2009 it has grown from a small group of passionate engineers and business...
SYS-CON Events announced today that GrapeUp, the leading provider of rapid product development at the speed of business, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Grape Up is a software company, specialized in cloud native application development and professional services related to Cloud Foundry PaaS. With five expert teams that operate in various sectors of the market acr...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ayehu will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on October 31 - November 2, 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara California. Ayehu provides IT Process Automation & Orchestration solutions for IT and Security professionals to identify and resolve critical incidents and enable rapid containment, eradication, and recovery from cyber security breaches. Ayehu provides customers greater control over IT infras...
Artificial intelligence, machine learning, neural networks. We’re in the midst of a wave of excitement around AI such as hasn’t been seen for a few decades. But those previous periods of inflated expectations led to troughs of disappointment. Will this time be different? Most likely. Applications of AI such as predictive analytics are already decreasing costs and improving reliability of industrial machinery. Furthermore, the funding and research going into AI now comes from a wide range of com...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SourceForge has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. SourceForge is the largest, most trusted destination for Open Source Software development, collaboration, discovery and download on the web serving over 32 million viewers, 150 million downloads and over 460,000 active development projects each and every month.
In this presentation, Striim CTO and founder Steve Wilkes will discuss practical strategies for counteracting fraud and cyberattacks by leveraging real-time streaming analytics. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Steve Wilkes, Founder and Chief Technology Officer at Striim, will provide a detailed look into leveraging streaming data management to correlate events in real time, and identify potential breaches across IoT and non-IoT systems throughout the enterprise. Strategies for processing massive ...
"Our strategy is to focus on the hyperscale providers - AWS, Azure, and Google. Over the last year we saw that a lot of developers need to learn how to do their job in the cloud and we see this DevOps movement that we are catering to with our content," stated Alessandro Fasan, Head of Global Sales at Cloud Academy, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
"We focus on composable infrastructure. Composable infrastructure has been named by companies like Gartner as the evolution of the IT infrastructure where everything is now driven by software," explained Bruno Andrade, CEO and Founder of HTBase, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Conference Guru has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. A valuable conference experience generates new contacts, sales leads, potential strategic partners and potential investors; helps gather competitive intelligence and even provides inspiration for new products and services. Conference Guru works with conference organi...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloud Academy named "Bronze Sponsor" of 21st International Cloud Expo which will take place October 31 - November 2, 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Cloud Academy is the industry’s most innovative, vendor-neutral cloud technology training platform. Cloud Academy provides continuous learning solutions for individuals and enterprise teams for Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and the most popular cloud com...
What's the role of an IT self-service portal when you get to continuous delivery and Infrastructure as Code? This general session showed how to create the continuous delivery culture and eight accelerators for leading the change. Don Demcsak is a DevOps and Cloud Native Modernization Principal for Dell EMC based out of New Jersey. He is a former, long time, Microsoft Most Valuable Professional, specializing in building and architecting Application Delivery Pipelines for hybrid legacy, and cloud ...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend 21st Cloud Expo October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, CA, and June 12-14, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.