APMdigest asked experts from across the IT industry — from analysts and consultants to users and the top vendors — for their opinions on the essential tools to support digital transformation. Part 7, the last installment, offers some final thoughts about "tools" that are not necessarily technology.
The most important "tool" for enabling digital transformation is a rich enterprise business app store. Reaching prospects is key, so the app store should distribute apps that provide responsive support for customer retention and business intelligence for better decision-making.
VP Product Management, ManageEngine
One of the most important tools in digital transformation is a strategic plan. All too often IT executives say, "We need to migrate to the cloud. We need to use containers and modernize our applications." But they haven't identified why they need cloud or container initiatives. They need to ask, "What is the business outcome we're hoping to achieve? What tools, services and solutions will help us achieve those goals?" Without a strategic plan focused on business outcome, any digital transformation initiative will be much more expensive and take far longer than necessary.
VP of Product, Avi Networks
The philosopher in me would say: The most successful companies who make the shift to digital will be ones who understand that their people are their most important tool and subsequently organize them behind a unified picture of the future.
VP Emerging Technology | Office of the CTO, Trace3
Talent is the #1 tool. It's part hiring, part development and part inspiration of Talent (culture) that sets an IT team apart from others. If you're not intentional with a very pointed people plan, you'll never transform digitally. Every time you look at the success or failure, it's due to the talent within.
VP and CIO, Ciena
Having the right person is the most important tool needed to support digital transformation, which aims to provide end-users with frictionless consumption of services. The right person is always learning and adapting, communicating and collaborating efficaciously across multiple teams, and has a high EQ to handle change. Implementing new technology is the easiest aspect of digital transformation. Capable people are needed to successfully and continuously integrate and deliver value. To ensure that digital transformation provides frictionless consumption to the end-user, processes are required to ensure consistency of delivery, reliability of delivered services, and a normalized experience at scale alongside a proper monitoring toolset. The proper toolset encompasses logging, metrics, and tracing to provide observability into any given system. Observability is from control systems theory and is required for controllability. However, too much data can lead to paralysis by over analysis, and bad data can lead to bad decisions. The most important tool in digital transformation is people, who need to refine their foundational skills like monitoring with discipline (the DART-SOAR framework).
Head Geek, SolarWinds
The must-have tool that an organization needs to support digital transformation is an "editable Org Chart," since the root cause of Digital Transformation failure most often has nothing to do with technology and everything to do with people and their ambitions, fears, skills, and passions. Tools are easy – people are hard.
When many people think of the tools required for digital transformation, they think of technology tools. However, often times the most important tool needed to succeed is the team of people that are going to implement those technologies. The people leading digital transformation at an organization are the most important asset needed to successfully implement any digital transformation plans. From the structure of the organization to the talents required by the members of the team, digital transformation initiatives require a different way of doing things from past approaches. Two key members of the team that may be new to some organizations are the Adoption Champion and the Product Owner. The Adoption Champion leads the evangelism effort around the new approach and tools being used in the initiative and is critical to maintaining momentum. The Product Owner brings a new business-goals-focused mindset to the typical application development project. Having a team of people that is focused on helping the business succeed is critical to the ultimate success of any digital transformation project.
Product Technology Evangelist, OutSystems
Believe it or not, the essential tool for Digital Transformation is found in layers 8, 9, or 10 of the OSI model: Politics, or to be more precise, Sponsorship. Companies can overcome technical hurdles as they progress through their digital journey, but cannot be successful without strong and effective leadership from the top. Companies should not only support employees who are leading the transformation charge, but also actively suppress efforts that contradict digital transformation. To give a simplistic analogy: If a library is pursuing a digital transformation, it's not just about putting the book inventory online and scanning pages. It's also about turning down the request for new card catalog cabinet.
Head Geek, SolarWinds
If you don't get the culture right, all the technology in the world won't help you be more responsive to your business. So the biggest "tool" to focus on first is actually the mindset of your teams.
DevOps Leader and Technology Director , Nationwide Insurance
As with any significant change, one of the biggest challenges to digital transformation is the need to change existing culture in order to accommodate three of the key imperatives it brings with it: speed, efficiency, and agility. From an IT perspective, If I had to pick a single specific aspect to focus on when implementing digital transformation, it would be creating a culture where automation and measurement of results — of everything from infrastructure to applications to business metrics — is so ingrained that it encourages and rewards innovation and change based on experimentation. In other words, having a culture that is set up for success with digital transformation is as important of a tool as any number of technologies.
Senior Director, Portfolio Strategy, Red Hat
The most important tool to support digital transformation is empathy amongst stakeholders, however that is a tool that has to be homegrown and is difficult to onboard across an entire organization.
DevOps Evangelist, CloudBees
Digital transformation isn't about the tools. Using the word more metaphorically, then, I'd say the most important tool is change. We say that the key to digital transformation success is making change a core competency of the organization. Change thus isn't simply a means to an end, or a description of a temporary phase between status quo and transformed future. Instead, change itself becomes the most important tool in the digital era toolbelt, to be applied liberally to every transformation challenge.
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