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Transforming the business of business

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My co-authors, Barry Briggs and James Farhat, and I are delighted to announce the release of Design to Disrupt, our new free e-book dedicated to helping IT and business leaders identify and capitalize on the new opportunities of digital transformation.

In our previous e-books, we detailed the forces behind the shift to cloud computing and the new application development and management methodologies available to IT organizations. With the shift well underway, the focus is now on what it means for business.

According to a World Economic Forum study, digital transformation for just 10 industries will unlock USD100 trillion for business and society by 2025. We see this as the start of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, where organizations are not just increasing their efficiency, but transforming the way they do business.

In short, we’ve reached a point where we can now imagine new possibilities and have a great chance of making them come true.

The cloud can be a catalyst for revolutionary change. However, it’s up to businesses to propose innovative ideas and strategies to evolve how they engage customers, empower employees, optimizing operations, and transform their products.

Consumers already see several ways that companies are beginning to transform the products and services they use—from ordering and paying for rides with their phones to streaming movies at home or on mobile devices.

From optimization to disruption

Much of the change brought about by the cloud has focused on optimizing and enhancing business processes with positive results. But that doesn’t necessarily result in new business models and entirely new revenue streams. I’m talking about disrupting the status quo in your market—envisioning what’s now possible when you connect your data to cloud services, and how those services can align with other services to build completely new solutions.

In Design to Disrupt we call this new model the “what-how-why” approach. It diverges from the old “why-what-how.” Previously, we described the “what” as the process that was going to change, then evaluate the benefit (“why”), and elaborate on “how” to make the new process a reality. The cloud is all about rapid iteration, piloting and testing ideas, and experimenting and envisioning—all in an effort to learn more about your business. With that in mind, you still approach the “what” as the process you propose to change, then proceed to the “how” stage with a prototype or envisioning session to learn the potential benefits or costs associated with your new problem-solving method. As a result, you’ll discover the impact the preferred solution will have, covering the “why” stage. With the cloud, it’s inexpensive and fast to experiment. There’s no need to price out new server racks, negotiate new software licenses, and bring on development teams to begin working on new solutions—making envisioning a natural course of action.

Digital transformation is bridging the gap between business and IT, and IT is the engine for innovative change.

Once you learn the ins and outs of cloud technology, you can drive value by building quick prototypes and proofs-of-concept. Related or adjacent use cases and how they can be applied start to surface. What’s more, the value of the intended solution is not based solely on pre-determined goals, but discovered along the journey. That may sound unpredictable and a bit reckless to those entrenched in the old model, where value usually hinges on initial development, but the exponential results can often be applied to many other areas in the business.

IT = business

Digital transformation bridges the gap between business and IT, and IT is the engine for innovative change. It’s often said that in the new model “every company becomes a software company.” With increasingly tech-savvy generations entering the workplace, the expectation for rapid provisioning and self-service means that applications can spring up from anywhere in the organization.

Companies at the forefront of this revolution hold their position because their IT organizations started to adapt and become true partners with the business. Design to Disrupt provides real-world examples of this adaptation, resulting in innovation across the four pillars of digital transformation:

  • Engaging your customers – give them new experiences they will love
  • Empowering your employees – reinventing productivity and enabling a data-driven culture
  • Optimizing your operations – modernize and transform processes and skills
  • Transforming your products ­– innovate products and business models

The key takeaways from the e-book showcase how disrupting with the cloud relies on a business-first approach. At a high level, takeaways include:

  • Allowing you to respond to new opportunities more quickly
  • Expanding into new markets or new partnerships
  • Maximizing the ROI of your business processes by delivering better business continuity and enhancing business agility
  • Supporting new forms of business automation
  • Lowering total cost of ownership
  • Establishing a uniform, consistent, and isolated approach for compliance with legal regulations

A recent PricewaterhouseCoopers survey of over a thousand CEOs worldwide shows that 86 percent believe digital technologies will transform their business more than any other change. I hope you take the opportunity to digest the guidance and examples in Design to Disrupt and start thinking of them in the context of your own business.

It starts with the cloud. Just add ideas.



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