September 12, 2014

Why is transformation suddenly so important for companies?

Manish Kumar

Head Offering Management & Customer Enablement Consulting, Tieto

Change has been the only constant in life for humanity. Why, then, has the sudden focus on transformation become such a big topic for the corporate world? It’s a question that has been troubling me for some time, and on this blog, I have tried to provide an answer.

Understanding the speed of change

Radio, as one example of transformation in our daily lives, took around 38 years to reach a user base of 50 million people. This same feat was achieved by television in only 13 years, and by the Internet in just 5 years. Data points out that it’s not just the change itself that takes us by surprise, but the speed of change as well. This speed is also drawing so much attention to transformation. No matter what efforts we make to keep up with the pace of change, the sheer amount of things taking place around us simply cannot be tracked. In relative terms, all of us may wake up one day to find ourselves nowhere near as advanced as compared to our surroundings. As scary as this thought might sound, it’s actually very likely!

The speed of change is all around us. Companies and individuals not keeping up with it are struggling to stay afloat. Nokia, a well-known brand in the global mobile devices industry, is today part of Microsoft and its mobile division is history. If you look at the Fortune 100 list of global top companies and try comparing them with the list from a decade ago, you can see this change taking place. The expectations from our consumers and employees are changing with ever-increasing speed, and this is putting immense pressure on our organizations to change quickly.

We all need to acknowledge that the world of IT applications around us has transformed at a faster pace than the enterprise applications we use on a day to day basis. The skills and aptitude needed to use these enterprise applications are increasingly getting more demanding when compared to applications on the World Wide Web. This is resulting in the weekend / weekday syndrome for users, where the moment they walk into the workspace, they feel like they have been thrown back into the past. The use of the enterprise applications being so demanding is resulting in high user dissatisfaction and a burden for corporate IT departments.

Riding the wave of transformation

If we all now understand the importance of this new wave of transformation, then we should also begin to understand how to ride this wave, rather than being swept aside by it. The key is modularity in design and agility in execution. We need to build systems and process that are module and dynamic enough to keep up with this change. The age of building up large and complex IT systems is over. The complexity in itself cannot be ruled out, but how we deal with it has to evolve. Building modularly in the component design would make them resistant against change and time. The IT system execution models have also been challenged and transformed; more projects are now getting done in the agile method rather than the waterfall method of execution. However, I believe that for complex core enterprise application implementations, we might do well with a kind of a middle path ‘Iterative project implementation’ method.

In enterprise IT, today’s space cloud is a practical option that most CIOs have to consider when defining their next-generation IT landscape. At the same time, cloud is still not at the level that most companies can fully embrace, so we should continue to aim for hybrid solutions. There are new things we keep identifying and investing in on a daily basis, such as mobility, big data, social elements, and wearable technology. These things will keep compelling us to adopt new waves of transformation. So in essence, we will continue to see an exponential growth in the pace of change around us. We have no clue on how the things around us would looks in a few years or even months. The only way to insure ourselves and our companies against this constant force of change is to build modularity into our systems and define execution practices that are truly agile in nature.

Read more on our Business Transformation blog here. You can also download our Business Transformation study here.

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