What is digital and why is it now so important? How are CEOs thinking about business, IT and digital? What is Digital Business Strategy (aka – what should CxOs be doing to ensure their organisation can benefit from the challenges and opportunities presented by Digital)? Ps. how much of this is hype versus actual reality?
These are the sort of questions regularly asked of top research analysts, and a couple of weeks ago we heard some answers, and more, at a recent BCS London event featuring two leading analysts from Gartner. Mark Raskino, (VP and Gartner Fellow), focused on the outcomes and insights from the Gartner’s CEO Concerns 2013 survey, and Dave Aron, (VP and Gartner/BCS Fellow) discussed the urgent need for digital business strategies. Below are some highlights from their presentations:
- Multiple uncertainties of the last 12-18 months are starting to lift, and CEOs feel better able to plan and invest – there is renewed focus on profitability, plus there is money available to invest
- After a decade of IT service performance and tight cost control, good digital strategy is emerging as a key enabler for forward looking organisations. “There has to be more to the future of IT than endlessly babysitting ERP” – Dale Kutnick, Gartner EVP
- Digital is a mixture of various themes, which include: mature forces (i.e. e-commerce, e-service, online), contemporary forces (i.e. social, mobile, cloud, information), and emerging forces (e.g. Internet of Things, 3D printing, robotics, data science), all with a common “revenue winning” focus.
- CIOs beware – new C-level information and technology roles (e.g. CDO/CIO or Chief Digital/Data/Innovation Officers) are emerging to fill the void left by traditional roles in the age of Digital
- ‘Digital’ is a much misused (and often restrictive) term which actually encompasses “…all electronic forms and uses of information and technology” – Dave Aron, Gartner.
- We are entering a third era of Enterprise IT which has evolved through: IT Systems/Apps to IT Services/Processes, and now Digital Business/Models. Great IT strategy is no longer enough, organisations need a solid digital strategy to move forward
- Digital business strategy answers the question: how will your business survive and thrive in a time of digital disruption? It is and integral part of business strategy.
- Business processes are a terrible way to innovate in a time of disruptive digital innovation. “Business models are a more natural way to think of digital strategy”
- Gartner’s Annual CIO survey 2013 indicates that, over the next decade or so, smaller ‘long tail’ firms will be most influential partners on the journey to digital!
The above are just a small sample of the thought provoking content covered during this most excellent, value for money event. As usual, I just had to ask the question of how Intellectual Property (IP) will likely influence and / or be influenced by the rise of digital, and the answers (which are recorded in a post event video interview) could become the topic of a future blog post. Watch this space.
Back in 2011, I wrote a post about business model innovation in which I waxed lyrical about how a simple, straightforward business model canvas could be the perfect tool for any organisation to use in tackling the complexities of today’s business environment. So what has changed since then?
Absolutely nothing, and I still stand by what I said. If anything, ample proof exists in the growing number of user communities and tools (e.g. here and here) that employ this amazing technique to simplify and facilitate business model innovations. However, the one missing piece for me was how to easily translate valuable insights gleaned from using the business model canvas into something tangible, practical and immediately applicable to the actual work of business transformation. That problem appears to have been solved with the introduction of tools that can automate and facilitate the execution part of business model innovation.
Figure – The missing piece: executing business model innovation
Don’t get me wrong, the above missing piece is achievable by manually translating business model changes into the enterprise architecture (EA) and business process (BPM) landscape, but this implies hefty overheads in terms of people and effort required to implement even a simple change. Also, the evolving nature of the role played by EA and BPM functions, (within a dynamic and fast changing business environment), demands a more seamless interface with changing business models. Thankfully, the afore-mentioned tools should help to automate and provide such seamless linkage.
A couple of weeks ago, I attended a vendor webinar which actually prompted this blog post, because they described how their software suite was designed to deliver this capability, and below are some of my impressions from that event, including:
- The promise of business model canvas as the right approach to address the challenge of a Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous (aka VUCA) world.
- The shift away from products to business models as key differentiators
- Seven applications of the Business Model Canvas, including various business model innovation journeys and perspectives (e.g. offer / customer / revenue driven models)
- Business Model Mountain was the term used to describe how business model innovation falls over halfway between ideation and execution, (see diagram below).
Figure – Business Model Mountain (source: BizzDesign Webinar Slides)
According to the presenter, their software suite provide a more compelling way to engage business stakeholders with the end-to-end transformation process, by using business model canvas as the reference model for communication between business, process and technology stakeholders. It was also great to see a demo of the software suite, which allayed some of my fears about tools that attempt to do too much, by featuring different aspects (i.e. business model canvas, EA and BPM) as distinct tools that work well in their own right, but which can be combined to deliver end-to-end translation of the business model into real system components and processes.
Health Warning: Not having used this tool yet, (due to very busy day job, believe it or not), I’m unable to say more about real hands-on capabilities, but in terms of its potential to help realise the huge promise and benefits of business model innovation, this is certainly a step in the right direction, in my humble opinion.
Note: this is another post in the innovation topic series, and more specifically, “tools for innovation”. Watch out for more on this and related topics, over the next few months.
Some relevant links:
- Blogpost: “The Innovative Art of Business Model Generation” – https://www.capgemini.com/blog/capping-it-off/2011/07/the-innovative-art-of-business-model-generation
- BizzDesign Webinar: “Business Model Innovation Webinar” – http://www.bizzdesign.com/blog/serviceline/business-model-management
- Bright talk Webinar: “Innovation and EA”- https://www.brighttalk.com/webcast/679/32551
- Blogpost: “Developing a tradition for change” – http://www.bcs.org/content/conBlogPost/2204
- Blogpost: “Capabilities for Sustainable Innovation” – https://www.capgemini.com/blog/capping-it-off/2013/08/capabilities-for-sustainable-innovation
According to a recent Forrester Benchmarks Report, (somewhat provocatively entitled: “CIOs Are Not Ready To Support Business Innovation”), there are 3 levels of capabilities required to sustain innovation which any aspiring innovative organisation will do well to take notice. These key capabilities are clustered around 3 levels of: idea, implementation and control (see diagram below):
Figure: Forrester’s 3 Level of capabilities for sustainable innovation*
Some key findings from the report indicate that:
- Sustainable innovation requires “repeatable, manageable and measurable processes” across the 3 capability levels. However, it is also worth bearing in mind that incremental change does not necessarily equate to innovation.
- Ideas management (including: ideation, incubation and portfolio management capabilities) is ad hoc and under managed across many organisations. Incidentally, this is the layer in which many organisations concentrate their efforts, especially during the initial buzz of launching of a new innovation initiative or program (usually with a team of dedicated people, or part-time volunteers within the organisation).
- Various process and cultural issues will challenge implementation (e.g.: change management, incentives and communication capabilities). The processes and culture of many organisations will need major adjustment to cope with / support sustainable innovation. The occasional one-off innovation, and / or slow incremental change, may not present much of a problem, but constant, sustained innovation is challenging and sometimes disruptive.
- Clear differences exist between organisations and their approach to innovation control (i.e. governance, funding and measurement capabilities). Innovation programs require different governance and control capabilities than the rest of the organisation, especially for timelines and outcomes, but these need clear boundaries on behaviour, funding and metrics / KPIs. I recently reviewed a book about “the architecture of innovation”, which discusses this and some of the other items above, in some depth.
Based on the above, it could be argued that many organisations, (and their CIOs), are not yet fully prepared to support sustainable innovation. So the obvious question to ask: what are you planning or doing about it in your organisation?
Please Note: This post kicks off a new innovation topic series on which I plan to blog regularly. The topic seems to have become pervasive of late. For example, I lead a small innovation group in my business unit at work and we blog a lot about innovation, plus I write about “Tools for Innovation”, on behalf of the BCS Entrepreneurs Group. Given my keen interest in / involvement with creative entrepreneurs, investors and innovative technologies, It just made sense to pull these strands of related posts together under one “innovation series”. Disclaimer: As ever, except where stated otherwise, all opinions / observations / critique remain mine, and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer, The BCS Chartered Institute for IT, or any other groups in which I’m involved.