In conversations with our CMT clients about digital transformation, the same five business imperatives continuously surface: Increasing the pace of getting new products in users’ hands, aligning the business and IT strategy, breaking down organizational silos, developing a world-class user experience, and ensuring cost-effectiveness. These are our recommendations for achieving them.
1. Increase the pace and velocity of product development
Scenarios like this one play out every day: A product manager comes to the IT organization with a request to move quickly on a high-priority project. The IT team answers, “We could do this, but we don’t have the resources.” If the project is critical enough, the business might offer to fund it, in which case IT pulls resources from other projects. IT finds itself consistently in reaction mode, responding to requests by building costly, one-off systems and custom code.
Our recommendation is to standardize on a cloud-native application development platform and adopt modern software engineering practices like continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) and build-measure-learn. Such a development platform eliminates impediments to pace and velocity, such as variations in cycle time, inconsistent feedback loops, as well as lack of integration between release and test cycles.
2. Align the IT strategy with the business
Misalignment between business imperatives and IT strategy is the most common problem we see within communications, media and tech companies. One symptom of misalignment is that the business prioritizes spending for “keeping the lights on” over spending for transformation.
Our recommendation is to adjust the organizational structure so that the teams responsible for keeping the business running, innovating and reimagining the user experience don’t have to compete for resources. Some companies do this by creating a transformation office, while others embed a business owner in IT. Still, others embed an IT product owner in the business organization.
3. Connect organizational IT siloes together
At some enterprises, different departments and business units have their own IT teams that work in isolation. One of our clients, a semiconductor company, had different IT teams, platforms and data architectures for fabrication, product development, marketing and sales. The problem: The teams couldn’t leverage each others’ work, slowing down new product development and impeding agility.
To solve this dilemma, our recommendation is to standardize on a single data architecture and cloud-native development platform for all departments. The various business functions can still maintain separate IT teams, but the teams gain synergies by sharing the same development platform, data architecture and code repositories.
4. Design a world-class user experience
Today’s workforce and marketplace expect a curated digital experience. Software that works isn’t enough; users also expect an efficient and elegant user experience. But internal teams often have to make do with a bare-bones interface.
Our recommendation is to place the user at the center of software design. The goal is to delight the user – both through the features and the experience. With monolithic applications, developers can’t change the user interface without also touching the business logic and database. Adding a new feature often takes so long that the user doesn’t need it once it finally arrives. Microservices architectures make it easier to focus on the user throughout the development process and to evolve as quickly as user needs are identified. The basic idea is to build the application from discrete microservices that connect via open application programming interfaces (APIs). If a user wants something new, IT can modify a set of microservices without touching and re-testing the others.
5. Drive cost efficiency through application transformation
Many communications, media and technology companies want to develop cloud-native apps. The twin barriers are lack of a platform and scarcity of talent.
Our advice is to start by rationalizing the application portfolio. Rank applications based on their business value, cloud-native readiness and your organization’s IT capabilities.