3 ways to sabotage your digital transformation

  • Posted on July 10, 2019
  • Estimated reading time 4 minutes
digital transformation tips

This article was originally written by Avanade alum Adam Cartwright.

Stories about digital transformation success are everywhere: The pizza chain that lets you order from anywhere on any device for delivery (seemingly) everywhere… The streaming media service that bet its business on a subscription model – and won… The bank that empowers customers to make voice-activated transactions through their virtual assistants.

Don’t be fooled. For every success the media trumpets, there are scores of failures that die quiet deaths, away from the spotlight. Digital transformation is hard. And it’s never been more important. Businesses—yours included—need digital transformation because without it, your ability to survive and thrive is uncertain. New competition from both startups and established companies, crossing industry lines, threatens to encroach on your turf. New technologies and business models bring disruption you can’t see coming. And for all of this, you need to be prepared. You need to be Ready by Design.

Many companies make serious efforts at change but slip back into old habits, old ways of working, even as they think they’re pushing forward with ambitious programs of transformation. To overcome this, you need to be focused on three targets: process, tools, and culture. Allowing any one of these three to stall can sabotage success. Here’s a closer look:

#1: Process. Many businesses blame legacy systems for not pulling their weight in the digitally transformed company—but even new systems built expressly for the purpose may fall short. That’s because just using the newest technologies isn’t enough. The design, development and engineering processes used to create these new systems must be agile enough to adapt to continually changing requirements and desired outcomes. If your process for creating these systems is outdated, the resulting systems will be outdated too—no matter how new they are.

What’s needed is a modern software engineering approach that speeds the product lifecycle with proven Agile and DevOps processes. If you don’t think that process really makes a difference, think again. For example, when Avanade helped GroupM to adopt modern software engineering tools and approaches, the company increased agility with shorter release cycles while cutting related costs by 20 percent.

#2: Tools. Adopting modern software engineering tools is essential—but just having new tools is not enough. We’ve seen companies adopt DevOps tools and still not achieve the expected productivity gains because they fail to take advantage of their ability to facilitate new ways of working. For example, they may replace a centralized source code system with a distributed, Git-based solution—and then not use the new tool to decentralize their source code management approach and adopt collaborative processes that would drive productivity.

We recently helped a major chemical company to adopt DevOps tools—and learn to use them to transform its global software development process. The company boosted project capacity by 50%, reduced time to market from days to minutes and improved the quality of its growth-focused apps.

#3: Culture. Ultimately, companies can’t optimize their use of new processes or tools without making a major change in their software engineering cultures. And that’s not a one-time-only proposition. Culture must continually evolve as quickly as the changes in technology. Defining and refining culture must reflect the millennials who make up a large share of software development talent and will increasingly do so for years to come. Your culture should reflect their open-source values, both in a greater emphasis on collaboration and (ironically) in ownership of ideas and creative value from design through to production.

Getting culture right revitalizes talent, making it easier for companies to both attract and retain that talent. We’ve seen this time and again—including here, at Avanade where we just wrapped up our annual Global Innovation Contest and regional “makeathons” designed to spark learning and innovation across our diverse workforce. We’ve become big believers in the crucial importance of getting software engineering culture right—and in sharing this ethos with our clients. It’s something we naturally bring to engagements and help clients to implement in their own companies.

Lots of companies sabotage their digital transformation efforts and never even know it. You don’t have to be one of them. Keeping your focus on process, tools and culture can make the difference, and ensure that you liberate your talent, gain the full benefits of Agile and DevOps, and achieve faster time to market.

Learn more about why you need to be Ready by Design.

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