The CEOs Digital Transformation Elephant In The Room

Discussions about digital transformation invariably focus on the latent power of technology.  But these conversations avoid the obvious elephant in the room which is destroying our dreams of digital transformation.  Kevin Baker explains what’s going wrong, and what CEOs can do to pave the way.

Digital transformation promises to transform the way your business harnesses technology.  It will sweep away the incumbent, legacy systems that are simply too slow to respond to the demands of today’s business world.  Instead, technology will be flexible and agile, dovetailing its actions to the demands of the business.  Digital transformation will unify the business with technology, allowing people to work at their optimum capacity, opening competitive opportunities, and improving customer experience.

Sadly, the reality is falling short of the concept.

Digital transformation, an initiative that promises so much, is not developing as hoped for too many organisations.  What is going wrong?  Before we tackle the elephant in the room holding back digital transformation, we must first establish why we’re currently unable to see something so obvious.

The elephant in the room has gone unnoticed because of a huge distraction.  It’s a distraction so large and troublesome that it dwarves the elephant.  That distraction is technology.

Technology is a huge barrier to digital transformation.  Organisations are stacked full of mission critical technology. But while these systems are critical, they bring with them myriad problems.  The average organisational IT estate now comprises tools, apps, packages, cloud services and servers stacked on top of one another in an ad-hoc fashion. 

Like a giant Ker-Plunk played out over many years, leaders will say that removing just one pivotal piece will send the IT infrastructure crashing down around them.

The upkeep of this sprawl is such a momentous task that IT leaders and managers have little time to think of anything else.  They scramble around keeping the cogs turning and the lights on, with little regard to the ‘big picture’ that the business wants them to see.

IT can’t see the wood for the trees.  The majority of people within IT, from CIO to service desk analyst, needs help gaining the perspective, and needs freeing from the shackles placed on it by the technology it drowns in.

This is where the CEO must intervene.

The organisational leadership needs to choose its priority.  Digital transformation isn’t impossible without laying the foundations.  This means taking away some of the pressure on IT teams.  The board and IT must work together to simplify IT, declutter the sprawl and free up resources.  Once IT can eliminate redundant systems and services and can manage ‘business as usual’ without reaching full capacity, then it can begin to look at IT in more strategic terms.

Technology holds the key to much of the promise of digital transformation.  Yet ironically, technology is also a major barrier to progressing.  Before benefiting from digital transformation, businesses must first understand IT and what value it delivers.  It then needs to spring clean its operations, eliminating redundant systems and services. 

It’s not possible for most organisations to begin digital transformation with a clean slate.  But IT needs space to operate and think before it can even consider starting and the best way to do this is get rid of the elephant in the room.

Download our guide 8-Steps to Achieving Digital Transformation Success: the basics holding organisations back and how to overcome them.

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