The bumpy road to IT transformation -- How enterprises can smooth it out
The past five years has seen businesses enter a period of breakneck digital transformation with IT departments undergoing rapid change. Most large enterprises are either executing an IT transformation program or are about to embark on one.
When doing this, businesses need to ensure that it doesn’t turn out to be "Yet another IT transformation initiative" but one that actually delivers substantive value to the organization.
What is involved in IT transformation?
This is big stuff. Enterprise-level change programs span applications, infrastructure and business processes. Despite cost-effective cloud computing and constantly falling hardware prices, a lot of the IT budget is spent just standing still. It’s not surprising to see high spending levels, with an average of 60 percent of IT budgets going on applications. This means the 'innovation' or change budget, if it exists, is likely to be limited.
Applications are of course just one piece to the transformation puzzle, key business priorities include enhancing customer experience, reducing time to market for new functionality, monetizing the opportunities with digital channels, and changing the business operating model to substantially reduce costs.
IT transformation often brings up discussions of who should lead, whether the business or IT. In reality it needs to be a partnership between the two. The business knows the competition and should have a long term vision of what it needs to achieve, whereas marketers, operations and sales leaders often don’t know what’s possible in a technology-enabled business.
The IT team therefore needs to think beyond the requirements and collaborate with business stakeholders to show how technology can lead the way. In order to be able to achieve that, the IT team needs to work ahead of the business, so that new IT solutions are ready and tested before the transformation goes live.
What are the challenges of IT transformation?
A business can’t measure IT transformation success without considering the risk the business is being exposed to. If too many elements in the software change at once, it can be hard to prevent disruption or erratic system behavior, which could potentially lead to a glitch or system failure.
To measure IT transformation success we can focus on business metrics such as lower time to market, increased responsiveness, lower cost and the ability to manage more initiatives. However, these are all hard elements to measure directly. So a set of IT analytics that can measure some of the key IT-business outcomes are useful.
What are the key measurements?
As many CIOs go through the process of IT transformation, they will measure the key characteristics which indicate a stable application. Such measures enable a CIO to understand their application software quality. They include:
Adaptability -- The overall adaptability of the product portfolio tells a business how bloated and complex the portfolio is and to what extent the IT landscape impedes the business’ ability to be responsive. Being able to benchmark and improve the application landscape complexity can be a key metric to transformation effectiveness, particularly if one of the business goals is to increase overall business agility.
Software Risk -- Measuring the probability of adverse events due to software and the potential loss incurred by such events, can be achieved by evaluating the violations of industry-based best practices within the code, components and architecture of applications.
Robustness -- This indicates the likelihood an application will incur defects, corrupt data or completely fail in production. Such measures are based on industry best practices around algorithmic and control flow complexity and controlled data access at an architectural level.
Changeability -- This is core to transforming the most important and differentiating business processes. The more changeable the application, the easier it is to add a new interface, or a new portal, or new functionality to support platforms such as mobile. Increasing the changeability is a fundamental, transformational step towards digital business.
Having good risk controls and the ability to measure and assess software risk ahead of the release, allows the business to move quickly with greater confidence. Even if IT transformation runs smoothly at first, the right software quality measures can reduce the risk to the business over the longer term.
Measuring risk along the way is critical to IT transformation success and success breeds success. A business which can make an IT transformation work well, is one who is ready for the next.
Vishal Bhatnagar is SVP & Country Manager at CAST Software and is responsible for the CAST business in the UK & Ireland. Based on his IT services and consulting expertise, Vishal brings diverse and valuable software analytics experience to CAST customers.