Welcome!

Open Source Cloud Authors: Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Christoph Schell, Wesley Coelho, Rainer Ersch

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Microservices Expo, @DevOpsSummit

@CloudExpo: Blog Post

Digital Transformation: It’s the Customer, Stupid! | @CloudExpo #DX #Cloud #Agile

One of the core tenants of organizational change is that the leader must create a compelling vision of the future

Digital Transformation: It's the Customer, Stupid!
By Charles Araujo, Intellyx Principal Analyst

If you cannot explicitly articulate how investing in a new technology, changing the approach or re-engineering the business process will help you achieve your customer-centric vision of the future in direct and measurable ways, you probably shouldn't be doing it.

At Intellyx, we spend a lot of time talking to technology vendors. In our conversations, we explore emerging new technologies that are either disrupting the way enterprise organizations work or that help enable those organizations to cope with disruption.

The rate at which new companies and new technologies are emerging is staggering, and it can be difficult to keep up - even for those of us whose sole job is to do so. It's no wonder, therefore, that so many people draw a straight line between the concept of digital transformation and these emerging technologies. Unfortunately, it's the wrong line.

One of the core tenants of organizational change is that the leader must create a compelling vision of the future before any real change will occur. People must come to believe in this vision and must be able to see themselves within it before they will do the hard and often threatening work of changing their behavior.

By definition, digital transformation is an exercise in organizational change. Therefore, it is essential that anyone leading a transformational effort craft this compelling vision of the future. And that's why connecting digital transformation to emerging technologies is so dangerous: it's the wrong vision.

Digital Transformation's Philosophical Center
Digital transformation is not and has never been about technology. Technology is the engine that powers it, but the true essence of digital transformation has always been about changing the way organizations - and even the whole of society - work.

On a macro scale, we often talk about digital transformation as the fundamental shift in how organizations structure themselves and how their leaders manage and lead them - with technology underpinning the transformation.

The challenge with that definition is that it sounds so, well, big and gnarly. Changing the fundamental ways that you structure, manage and lead an organization is not just something you do on a whim. It takes courage, a whole lot of resources and a willingness to bet your organization's future - not to mention your career - on the outcome.

As a result, too many organizations are willing to accept a lighter, less destructive - and less risky - version of digital transformation. Whether by focusing on the technology or by setting only small, incremental goals and simply slapping the transformation moniker on it, many business and technology leaders are unwilling to step up and put forward a compelling vision of the future that represents this kind of fundamental change.

But it doesn't need to be that hard or complex. The key to making digital transformation less big and scary and to being able to create a compelling vision that will lead the organization forward is to get down to its philosophical core: the primacy of the customer.

The Shift to Customer Centricity
The full realization of digital transformation is an immense and involved process (for a visual representation, check out our digital transformation poster). There are a lot of moving parts that cover everything from those emerging technologies to the re-envisioning of business models to new approaches to IT execution and business management - and plenty more in between.

But at the center of all of those moving parts for every real digital transformation story is the shift to customer centricity and its emergence as the foundational driver of change. The principal underpinning of the transition out of the industrial age and into the digital era is the empowerment of the customer.

In the industrial age, it was all about mass producing a product or service. Organizations focused their basic operating paradigm on creating efficiency and eliminating waste so that they could reduce costs to either increase earnings or create competitive advantage.

The consumerization of technology changed all of this. New competitors found that they could disrupt industries by empowering the customer and offering them choice and flexibility. The digital era fundamentally represents a shift away from the mass-market operating paradigm to a customer-centric one.

At Intellyx, we call this phenomenon the ‘primacy of the customer,' and understanding its true meaning will help you craft your digital transformation vision, apply emerging technologies appropriately and keep your organization on the right path as you move forward.

Your True North: The Customer
When you boil down all of the complexity of digital transformation to this core idea of the primacy of the customer, it gets much simpler - and more meaningful. Many of the crazy stories we hear about digital transformation programs gone wrong are almost always because this focus either never existed or was lost along the way.

The easiest way to use this idea in your transformational efforts is to start by crafting your future vision with the primacy of the customer in mind. If your vision does not put the customer at the center of the story, you're almost certainly off base.

A compelling vision told from the customer's perspective ensures that you will not be overly focused on the technology, the organizational design or any other inward facing construct.

Once you have created that customer-centered transformational vision it should then become what we call your ‘true north.' Like ancient sailors using the north star to orient themselves in open waters, your vision should become the overriding benchmark by which you measure your efforts and decisions.

When you use it correctly, it is an incredibly powerful and simple mechanism to check yourself and your organization and ensure that you're making the right decisions for the right reasons. You can evaluate even the most technical project or decision in this way.

If you cannot explicitly articulate how investing in a new technology, changing the approach or re-engineering the business process will help you achieve your customer-centric vision of the future in direct and measurable ways, you probably shouldn't be doing it.

If you can, on the other hand, then you should be moving full steam ahead.

The Intellyx Take
The digital transformation stakes are enormous. But you don't need to make it more complicated than it needs to be.

Digital transformation is an ongoing journey that demands a fundamental shift in almost every aspect of how organizations function. It's heady stuff, to be sure. But at its core, it all boils down to the primacy of the customer.

Organizations who fail to recognize this fundamental truth will struggle with their transformational efforts and see massive investments of time and money spin out of control. Or, just as likely, they will fail to take the bold steps necessary to actually transform anything.

Both outcomes will be a result of losing (or never having) sight of their true customer-focused vision. Those organizations, however, that can craft this vision and then keep it at the center of their efforts will realize the true promise of digital transformation.

Copyright © Intellyx LLC. Intellyx publishes the Agile Digital Transformation Roadmap poster, advises companies on their digital transformation initiatives, and helps vendors communicate their agility stories. As of the time of writing, none of the organizations mentioned in this article are Intellyx customers. Image source: Nick Youngson.

More Stories By Jason Bloomberg

Jason Bloomberg is the leading expert on architecting agility for the enterprise. As president of Intellyx, Mr. Bloomberg brings his years of thought leadership in the areas of Cloud Computing, Enterprise Architecture, and Service-Oriented Architecture to a global clientele of business executives, architects, software vendors, and Cloud service providers looking to achieve technology-enabled business agility across their organizations and for their customers. His latest book, The Agile Architecture Revolution (John Wiley & Sons, 2013), sets the stage for Mr. Bloomberg’s groundbreaking Agile Architecture vision.

Mr. Bloomberg is perhaps best known for his twelve years at ZapThink, where he created and delivered the Licensed ZapThink Architect (LZA) SOA course and associated credential, certifying over 1,700 professionals worldwide. He is one of the original Managing Partners of ZapThink LLC, the leading SOA advisory and analysis firm, which was acquired by Dovel Technologies in 2011. He now runs the successor to the LZA program, the Bloomberg Agile Architecture Course, around the world.

Mr. Bloomberg is a frequent conference speaker and prolific writer. He has published over 500 articles, spoken at over 300 conferences, Webinars, and other events, and has been quoted in the press over 1,400 times as the leading expert on agile approaches to architecture in the enterprise.

Mr. Bloomberg’s previous book, Service Orient or Be Doomed! How Service Orientation Will Change Your Business (John Wiley & Sons, 2006, coauthored with Ron Schmelzer), is recognized as the leading business book on Service Orientation. He also co-authored the books XML and Web Services Unleashed (SAMS Publishing, 2002), and Web Page Scripting Techniques (Hayden Books, 1996).

Prior to ZapThink, Mr. Bloomberg built a diverse background in eBusiness technology management and industry analysis, including serving as a senior analyst in IDC’s eBusiness Advisory group, as well as holding eBusiness management positions at USWeb/CKS (later marchFIRST) and WaveBend Solutions (now Hitachi Consulting).

@ThingsExpo Stories
"We've been engaging with a lot of customers including Panasonic, we've been involved with Cisco and now we're working with the U.S. government - the Department of Homeland Security," explained Peter Jung, Chief Product Officer at Pulzze Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
DX World EXPO, LLC., a Lighthouse Point, Florida-based startup trade show producer and the creator of "DXWorldEXPO® - Digital Transformation Conference & Expo" has announced its executive management team. The team is headed by Levent Selamoglu, who has been named CEO. "Now is the time for a truly global DX event, to bring together the leading minds from the technology world in a conversation about Digital Transformation," he said in making the announcement.
"We are focused on SAP running in the clouds, to make this super easy because we believe in the tremendous value of those powerful worlds - SAP and the cloud," explained Frank Stienhans, CTO of Ocean9, Inc., in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
While the focus and objectives of IoT initiatives are many and diverse, they all share a few common attributes, and one of those is the network. Commonly, that network includes the Internet, over which there isn't any real control for performance and availability. Or is there? The current state of the art for Big Data analytics, as applied to network telemetry, offers new opportunities for improving and assuring operational integrity. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jim Frey, Vice President of S...
The financial services market is one of the most data-driven industries in the world, yet it’s bogged down by legacy CPU technologies that simply can’t keep up with the task of querying and visualizing billions of records. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Karthik Lalithraj, a Principal Solutions Architect at Kinetica, discussed how the advent of advanced in-database analytics on the GPU makes it possible to run sophisticated data science workloads on the same database that is housing the rich...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 21st Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devic...
"The Striim platform is a full end-to-end streaming integration and analytics platform that is middleware that covers a lot of different use cases," explained Steve Wilkes, Founder and CTO at Striim, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Calligo, an innovative cloud service provider offering mid-sized companies the highest levels of data privacy and security, has been named "Bronze Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo ®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Calligo offers unparalleled application performance guarantees, commercial flexibility and a personalised support service from its globally located cloud plat...
SYS-CON Events announced today that DXWorldExpo has been named “Global Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Digital Transformation is the key issue driving the global enterprise IT business. Digital Transformation is most prominent among Global 2000 enterprises and government institutions.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Datera, that offers a radically new data management architecture, has been named "Exhibitor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo ®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Datera is transforming the traditional datacenter model through modern cloud simplicity. The technology industry is at another major inflection point. The rise of mobile, the Internet of Things, data storage and Big...
"We provide IoT solutions. We provide the most compatible solutions for many applications. Our solutions are industry agnostic and also protocol agnostic," explained Richard Han, Head of Sales and Marketing and Engineering at Systena America, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
"MobiDev is a Ukraine-based software development company. We do mobile development, and we're specialists in that. But we do full stack software development for entrepreneurs, for emerging companies, and for enterprise ventures," explained Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
SYS-CON Events announced today that DXWorldExpo has been named “Global Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Digital Transformation is the key issue driving the global enterprise IT business. Digital Transformation is most prominent among Global 2000 enterprises and government institutions.
In his opening keynote at 20th Cloud Expo, Michael Maximilien, Research Scientist, Architect, and Engineer at IBM, discussed the full potential of the cloud and social data requires artificial intelligence. By mixing Cloud Foundry and the rich set of Watson services, IBM's Bluemix is the best cloud operating system for enterprises today, providing rapid development and deployment of applications that can take advantage of the rich catalog of Watson services to help drive insights from the vast t...
SYS-CON Events announced today that EnterpriseTech has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. EnterpriseTech is a professional resource for news and intelligence covering the migration of high-end technologies into the enterprise and business-IT industry, with a special focus on high-tech solutions in new product development, workload management, increased effic...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Massive Networks, that helps your business operate seamlessly with fast, reliable, and secure internet and network solutions, has been named "Exhibitor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo ®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. As a premier telecommunications provider, Massive Networks is headquartered out of Louisville, Colorado. With years of experience under their belt, their team of...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloud Academy named "Bronze Sponsor" of 21st International Cloud Expo which will take place October 31 - November 2, 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Cloud Academy is the industry’s most innovative, vendor-neutral cloud technology training platform. Cloud Academy provides continuous learning solutions for individuals and enterprise teams for Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and the most popular cloud com...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloudistics, an on-premises cloud computing company, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Cloudistics delivers a complete public cloud experience with composable on-premises infrastructures to medium and large enterprises. Its software-defined technology natively converges network, storage, compute, virtualization, and ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CHEETAH Training & Innovation will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct. 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CHEETAH Training & Innovation is a cloud consulting and IT training firm specializing in improving clients cloud strategies and infrastructures for medium to large companies.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Datanami has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Datanami is a communication channel dedicated to providing insight, analysis and up-to-the-minute information about emerging trends and solutions in Big Data. The publication sheds light on all cutting-edge technologies including networking, storage and applications, and thei...