The best things happen outside. And not only outside the organization, where co-creation powered by the crowd is already bringing new business value every day and platforms are ‘eating the world’. Now it is time for the IT department to unleash the same energy to the own organization. A compelling digital platform – featuring APIs, open datasets, service catalogues, integration, frameworks, solutions guidance, tools and collaboration support – will enable business units to quickly create their own, market-focused solutions while leveraging enterprise grade information and services. It provides the best of both worlds, being at different speeds, aiming to ‘let go’ for the best digital results.
Here are some whispered words of wisdom for IT departments that find themselves in times of trouble: there may be an answer. It’s in letting things be.
You see, interesting enough the business side tends to be more enthusiastic about technology than in a long, long time. The cloud, Big Data, social media, smart ‘things’ and mobile devices all have brought tremendous new opportunities for true, digital transformation. No need for the evangelization of IT merits anymore and actually, the IT department finds itself now all too often in the position of blocking innovation – rather than driving it – consumed as it is by keeping the lights on in the existing application landscape.
The key to dealing with this is not in desperately trying to stay in central control. It’s most certainly also not in stopping de-central initiatives by business units that aim to create their own solutions in the nearest proximity of the market.
Instead, CIOs should embrace the reality of multi-speed IT, gradually but decisively shifting the center of gravity from their enterprise systems to a digital platform as the pièce de résistance of the IT department. This platform – the ‘station’ between the ‘trains’ and the ‘scooters’ bridges the stable and predictable world of enterprise systems with the agile, opportunistic world of digital transformation. It lets business units, partners and even consumers quickly create the next-gen solutions they envision while preserving crucial enterprise-grade qualities.
What then does a digital platform look like?
It’s actually everywhere in the TechnoVision framework. For example in our vision on infrastructure, in which we describe an orchestration and integration platform – front-ended by a self-service portal that simply provides business workloads – as the ultimate cloud instantiation.
It’s also in our plea to consider the API as the application, opening up core enterprise applications through a catalog of service interfaces – or even rebuilding it as a set of loosely coupled micro services.
Certainly it also surfaces in our description of the new data landscape, leveraging open data, master data management and business data lake technologies to provide any perspective on data – if necessary in real-time – without imposing restrictions on storage, structure or access.
Often underestimated – but extremely powerful – is the use of Business Process Management solutions to bust the silos of existing core processes, giving the business the opportunity to augment, improve and even create brand new processes without having to touch a single line of code.
Finally, the best producers of mobile apps might be end producers – wherever they are – as long as they are provided with the right power tools, frameworks and APIs to create compelling, yet enterprise-grade solutions themselves.
As with any platform play – even when it’s eating the world – the success of a digital platform is determined by how attractive it is to both the supply and the demand sides.
In order to be the keystone species of the enterprise ecosystem, the IT department needs to be in a continuous, hothouse dialog with its business stakeholders, co-creating parts of the digital platform on the go. Opportunistic decisions are good; an agile approach, based on a bold architectural vision of change is better. In any case, showcase projects that deliver early business benefits on the first components of the new platform are extremely valuable; they provide the healthy balance between the digital impatience of the business and the monumental task of modernizing the IT landscape.
Burning platforms need digital platforms; so that digital transformation can be.
Part of Capgemini’s TechnoVision 2015 update series. See the overview here.