Reshaping the technology transformation agenda
 

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  • At the very core, we believe there are four key stages to be undertaken when organizations look to reshape their technology transformation agenda.
     

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  • 1. 
    Define your transformation vision and goals.

    The COVID-19 pandemic’s dramatic drive toward a remote working model offers us many lessons. As we move into the fourth wave of remote working (as referenced in the first article of our series), CIOs need to think about how their IT infrastructure performed during the crisis and really note down their key learnings: What held up? What failed? Was their IT infrastructure resilient enough? Was there any impact on workplace efficiency, process and productivity—and did they still manage to effectively support their customers?

    With these reflections made, the first step CIOs should take is to determine their organizational transformation end goal and target operating model across the six imperatives outlined above. This end goal has to be clearly defined and should also create a competitive advantage for the organization. A rule of thumb here is to enlist specific metrics to guide the thinking, which further translate into must-dos within each dimension.
    For example:

    • For scalable networks, what level of flexibility is expected for our network usage? What levels of remote working are anticipated (and which functions, roles, geo-location “hotspots”)? How will the network needs change as we flatten the curve and fight out of the economic trough, gradually bringing some of the workforce back to the office?
    • For zero-trust security, what amount of threats are expected to be handled annually, and within what time frame are threats expected to be resolved once detected?
    • For the end-user support model, the online multichannel customer experience and the supply chain, what is the range of suppliers that could be considered? How much do we want to diversify? How much do we want to consolidate? What are the interdependencies among suppliers in the supply chain?
       
  • A rule of thumb for defining your transformation goals and vision is to enlist specific metrics to guide the thinking.


  • In the same vein, and to wrap this within the context of real-world examples, across hundreds of projects, Boston Consulting Group’s research puts forth the thesis that the goal is for organizations “to develop world-class technology functions (WCTFs) that create strategic differentiation by enabling new digital capabilities and increasing the enterprise’s simplification (to drive cost savings) and resilience.” In view of these goals, the six dimensions have a critical role to play.

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  • In a related article, Managing the Cyber Risks of Remote Work, BCG has described the full range of cybersecurity actions that a company should apply to a remote workforce.

    The next step to take is to define how to reach that goal. What strategy will you adopt? It’s important to define that strategy from where you are today, which is most likely a very different place from where you were just a couple of months ago.

    Different organizations will have radically different technology setups in place, for example, depending on their size, age and geographic spread. We also encourage technical leaders to clearly define the organization’s network needs in this new world—e.g., higher flexibility of network usage, increased levels of remote working, digital customer engagement and commerce, digital supply chain, differentiation by “hotspots” globally, etc.—and force a radical “as needed” rethink rather than using a more organic, go-with-the-flow evolution.

    From there, it is critical to conduct a full technology discovery and inventory (functions, architecture, environment) to fully understand your true baseline. Identify your most critical assets—e.g., your business-critical applications and functions. This will enable you to build out use cases that deliver value and are fully aligned with your business objectives. It will also enable you to understand what absolutely needs to change and what does not. From this, you can forge a comprehensive plan that leverages assets that not only matter now, but that may also be critical in the future.

    2. Focus on future-readying your people building blocks, i.e., workforce and talent.

    This second step is about ensuring that you have the right skills available to deliver on your transformation vision. This might mean retraining existing staff in areas such as AI, machine learning or cybersecurity or hiring in to ensure that you have the right skills to deliver the six imperatives of transformation. Or it could mean identifying a partner who can contribute specialist knowledge. But you need to ensure that you have the right team in place to make transformation happen, or you won’t get out of the starting gate.

    What is clear is that to move from theory to reality with these building blocks will require both technology and people upskill investment—and that’s why it’s important to establish the investment horizon and expected returns as early as possible. And this needs to be a long-term view. It’s very easy to think about short-term cost savings rather than the longer-term potential of putting all these building blocks in place. So the best transformation agendas will strike a good balance, where bets are placed carefully across these imperatives in an economically well-planned sequence.

  • You need to ensure that you have the right team in place to make transformation happen, or you won’t get out of the starting gate.


  • You also need to ensure that, from the beginning, technology teams and the business are fully integrated and aligned. Technology cannot be developed without a feedback loop from its eventual end users, and if technology does not fit with how people work, then work-arounds will be used. Adopting human-centered design (HCD) and agile methodologies is a good option here, as it enables customer feedback and swift responses through a balance of alignment and autonomy. This is an area that we will focus on in the third article in our series.
     

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  • 3. 
    Build scalable and adaptable application, IT infrastructure, and data and digital platforms (DDP).

    This is where transformation comes to life. The most important part of future-readying your business is to ensure that you have a modular, flexible IT architecture, which can adapt to challenges the future brings. This means simplifying your data and application landscape and establishing application programming interfaces (APIs) and microservices to create more flexibility. It means leveraging private, public and/or hybrid cloud infrastructure, with an opportunity to scale if required. And it means infusing strong cybersecurity elements across the design and implementation of technology, data and platform layers.

    4.Design cybersecurity in from the beginning.

    Designing cybersecurity into a transformation from the very start helps control development and operation costs, reduce time to implementation and generate revenue earlier. BCG client data analysis has shown that designing cybersecurity into a transformation can reduce rework costs by up to 62%, and time to market by up to 20%. Moreover, by instituting a common cybersecurity framework for all applications (both on-premises and multi-cloud), BCG indicates that operating costs can be reduced by up to 40%.
     

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  • Many organizations don’t take the time to look in depth at these four factors, and that is a key reason why transformations have cost overruns and fail. Not taking the time to look at your current state, work out how to get your future skill set or build in flexibility from the start of your design can all cause major issues down the line.

    What is clear is that to move from theory to reality with these building blocks will require both technology and people upskill investment—and that’s why it’s important to establish the investment horizon and expected returns as early as possible. And this needs to be a long-term view. It’s very easy to think about short-term cost savings rather than the longer-term potential of putting all these building blocks in place. So the best transformation agendas will strike a good balance, where bets are placed carefully across these imperatives in an economically well-planned sequence.