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In a previous article, ‘Digital Transformation (DX) – It’s Happening!’, we explored what Digital Transformation (DX) is and how instances of DX, both at a large and small scale is impacting our daily lives. In this article, let’s try and take a stab at developing the building blocks of Digital Transformation.

Below is a crude representation of the building blocks that will help enable the digital transformation for most organizations.

Logically we can group the blocks into;

a.      Core and extended Enterprise landscape

b.      Integration & automation

c.      Information Management & Analytics

d.      User experience

As I was developing this model, it reminded me that perhaps we haven’t come a long way from traditional reference architecture models for enterprises. What is represented in the diagram is pretty much the enterprise capability model one must have repetitively come across over the last few decades. Perhaps DX is nothing but a glorified evolution of the traditional model?

Beyond certain trends (refer: Transform… What are you waiting for? Time is NOW!) that are important to enterprises to kick start the DX journey, to me, it seems there are key technology capabilities that forms the foundation to DX. Let’s explore them in the context of the logical blocks that were defined earlier.

Core and Extended Enterprise Landscape

The enterprise landscape is extending to the cloud and many organizations have completely transitioned to the cloud. IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service), PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service), SaaS (Software-as-a-Service), Storage, Database, Information, Workflow, Application, Integration, Security, Management, Testing-as-a-service – these different flavors are providing enterprises the flexibility and speeding up the pace of transition to cloud.

Instead of customizing the core, with PaaS, IT is strategizing on extensions and customization outside the core. This helps in benefiting from one of the strongest of value propositions of the cloud i.e. the automatic software updates – Your core is always on the latest that innovation can provide.

Integration & Automation

In the key trends mentioned earlier, we saw how a landscape consolidation centered around integration is driving process optimization and automation. This logical block in the age of DX packs in technology capabilities like device integration (mobile, IoT etc), robotic process automation (RPA), real time data sync supporting in-memory & real time analytics led scenarios, connectors to the cloud (cloud to cloud, cloud to on-premise etc), API management etc.

The consideration is towards coming off from point to point integration into a centrally integrated rationalized landscape (hybrid in most cases), automating manual touch points wherever applicable.

Introducing API management, businesses are opening their data to more and more external entities securely, enhancing the digital experience while monetizing such assets and driving governance.

Process and Operational excellence becomes pivotal and by enabling such a foundation, helps IT and Business morph into a predictive, insight to action based operations than a reactive one.

Information Management & Analytics

Modern analytics is one of the most exciting aspect of DX. Combined with big data, streaming data, data that is structured and unstructured, from numerous sources including IoT, decision making has now escaped the confinement of the traditional silo to being available anywhere anytime. In-Memory computing, machine learning and artificial intelligence is now transforming the art of decision making. Cloud is further taking analytics beyond the geo special boundaries of the enterprise.

Data mining and now with algorithms that can overlay process models on top of the ‘mined’ data has started to provide businesses a new perspective into their core processes. Data now makes more sense than ever and provides avenues for real transformation.

User Experience

Is user experience (UX) the key to digital transformation? One cannot downplay the relevance for UX since user adoption is directly linked to the RoI of your investments in a digital transformation journey. It is poor UX that drives users to quickly fall back to legacy solutions endangering DX.

UX is now extended to the user interface of a wide range of devices. Mobility is not anymore a nice to have, but a must have for most modern enterprises. From engaging customers, partners and suppliers to enhancing the work experience of employees, UX becomes the differentiator. Bringing aspects of gamification has also provided enterprises an edge in this engagement.

With features such as offline and applications leveraging the native capabilities of devices, innovation now has no limits. IoT has opened possibilities of a new world order of automation, with the relationship between humans and devices now becoming more relevant. Collaboration, insights, data, reports and actionable work items on the go has given organisations the capability to be agile as never before.

So, with this I hope to possibly have covered what I think are the building blocks of DX and the key capabilities in these building blocks that is truly driving transformation at unprecedented levels. Do add your thoughts and share your insights into what could possible enhance this logical model of the building blocks for a successful digital transformation. Looking forward to making this article an interactive one 🙂

Note: The original article can be found on my LinkedIn page.

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