Playing the Digital Transformation Game

In a recent article for ComputerWorld, Howard Baldwin took a well-deserved poke at leading consulting punditocracy for pushing ?Digital Transformation? on their customers. You must build a ?digital industrial economy? opines Gartner! Or perhaps a ?digital business? that includes a ?comprehensive strategy that leads to new architectures, new services and new platforms? according to Accenture and McKinsey. Or maybe PricewaterhouseCooper?s ?digital IQ? is more your cup of tea?

The thrust of Baldwin?s article, however, is that CIOs are pushing back against all this consultant newspeak. Readers of this blog may well be wondering where I fall in this discussion. After all, I recently penned The Agile Architecture Revolution. In the book I make the case that we are in the midst of a true revolution ? one that reinvents old ways of doing IT, replacing them with entirely new approaches. You might think, therefore, that I align with the gurus of Gartner or the mages of McKinsey.

Sorry to disappoint. Just because we?re in the midst of broad-based transformation in enterprise IT doesn?t necessarily mean that ?digital transformation? should be on your corporate shopping list. Digital transformation, after all, isn?t a business priority. Making money, saving money, and keeping customers happy are business priorities. You should only craft a digital transformation strategy for your organization if it promises to improve the bottom line ? and you can adequately connect the dots to said bottom line.

I?m sure the pundits at Pricewaterhouse and the others understand this point, and if you hire them, they?ll connect the dots between their whiz-bang digital whatzit and, you know, actually making money. But if you read their white papers or see their executives pontificate at a conference, that?s when they bring out the flashing lights and fireworks.

Bottom line: yes, we?re in a period of great transformation, and yes, you?ll need to figure out how to deal with it. But your business strategy must always focus on your core business priorities, not some flashy collection of buzzwords. Tech fads come and go, but business fundamentals remain the same.

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