We all know about the story of Titanic - the famous ship that sank on its maiden voyage. This was the story of a ship that grossly mistook its navigational approach to avoid the iceberg based on what was just visible to the naked eye, i.e., - the tip of the iceberg.
So what does this have to do with enterprise digitization?
Digitalization is a huge opportunity for enterprises today. It is opening up newer markets, making friends out of competition and enemies out of erstwhile allies. It is many things to many people. For some, it is simply a new name for creating mobile app for a function which normally you did on a desktop or a laptop. For most of the business and IT decision makers, it conjures a grand vision of a paperless enterprise, awaited for many years now.
Successful cloud technologies across all levels, reduced costs of bandwidth and mobility, advances in analytics and Internet of Things (IoT) and proliferation of open API based business models have all led us to believe that the completely connected and digitized world is no longer a dream but a reality.
Large scale digital transformations have to go way beyond making changes at the design level or app level to understand how users navigate the digital interface, be it the customer facing online platform or the intranet for the employees. If we want to unleash the true potential of digital transformation, enterprises need to look at the entire stack - which means, redesigning and simplifying the business processes to suit the users and new realities, transforming the applications landscape, rationalizing them and then taking advantage of the agile and robust infrastructure technologies available today. It means using current models of cloud technologies when applicable and leverage the power of APIs to extend connectivity to multiple stakeholders outside your closed network. It also means using latest analytics and ITFM models to discover the true per-unit cost of a transaction in pre and post transformation scenarios so as to accurately model the business benefits for the enterprise.
We see examples of successful transformations where the architecture teams have taken pains to detail out the dependencies across the entire stack and business have made the necessary investments in transforming the underlying stack for the multifold gains expected to materialize. That is the right thing to do but it takes time and patience and the rewards are worth the effort. We also have examples of failures due to lack of necessary planning in process simplifications or under investments in underlying applications and infrastructure transformations. A rush to focus on the tip while ignoring the huge mass of ice underlying the sea can expose you to unknown risks, just like Titanic.