However, the debate restarted when it was suggested that the term “digital transformation” was a far better label. The discussion also covered the term “two speed IT function” used by some analysts or “bimodal IT” as coined by Gartner to recognise the digital age facets. All agreed that the digital age was driving a far higher focus on people within technology deployments, both in terms of the expectations created by consumerisation of IT services and the technical competence of the people consuming them.
I quite like the concept of “bimodal IT” as I do think it helps describe the duality corporate IT functions now face, namely the incessant demand for innovation at speed balanced against need to ensure appropriate data security and integrity. We certainly must retain the disciplines of a well-defined, managed and executed business transformation enabled by technology painfully learned over many decades! However, we do need to find risk managed ways to combine those virtues with that of rapid development, deployment and evolution of products and services. The mantra of “measure carefully and if you are going to fail, fail early” is a good one in my view.
It has always been tempting for people to label IT initiatives as transformational. Arguably the inherent characteristics of what is truly an IT transformation programme have not changed over the years. However, it seems very clear that some of those characteristics have evolved and gained importance in the digital age. The people engagement imperative has become unavoidable and truly central in every sense. This collaboration expectation combines with the relentlessly increasing pace at which delivery is demanded to create a new sense of excitement. Successfully delivering an IT enabled business transformation programme has never been easy and we continue to improve our ability to get them right.
I think using the term digital transformation is helpful. I much prefer it to IT transformation and it is less cumbersome than the more wordy IT enabled business transformation. I think the word digital increasingly encapsulates the concepts of business, information and technology. It also brings association with the pace of change and constant availability of the digital age that now sets the context for transformations.
David Smith is vastly experienced in evolving, communicating & delivering technology enablement. Roles as CIO, CTO, Chief Innovation & Technology Officer and Chief Security Officer at companies such as Fujitsu, PA Consulting and TMP, David views technology through a business value lens, connecting it to current market trends, challenges and opportunities.