In recent years, innovative technologies have made it possible for companies to transform their business models and find new ways to interact with their customers. However, as an increasing number of businesses climb aboard the bandwagon for the latest technology, some analysts are beginning to question whether people are driving technology or being driven by it. In other words, are companies using technology to transform their businesses, or are they adopting technology just because it exists?
Tools Must Provide Actual Help
Too often, organizations adopt technology for technology's sake. They do not have a clear strategy that defines what they expect to gain from the technology, how it will be used or what they will build with the technology. For example, according to an article on Forbes.com, containers and cloud infrastructure rank as two of the top initiatives among IT organizations. Microservices and containers have taken center stage for cloud development. Containers are convenient for per-process isolation, making them ideal for developing microservices that run as independent processes. If implemented inside a container, a microservice will have only limited interaction with the operating system. Containers can be game-changers, making it easier than ever to build and tear down applications. Ironically, though, in many companies, using container solutions takes a backseat to building and maintaining them, and many organizations with no interest in microservices may still feel compelled to check all the boxes for containers.
The cloud is another example of a technology that is often embraced without proper planning.
Cloud computing makes a great deal of sense, especially for hybrid infrastructures. However, public clouds have certain challenges and a learning curve. Migrating to the cloud is typically one of the first steps that organizations take during a digital transformation. In many cases, they have not defined what they plan to do once they move to the cloud, how their applications will run in the new environment or how the cloud can help meet the demands of customers or provide measurable business results.
The Changing Face of Enterprise IT
Until recently, IT's primary function was to support internal customers. Now, however, IT is required to address the needs of external customers. From maintaining a website to dealing with Internet of Things devices, IT has been forced to assume more responsibility for the customer experience. Many IT departments have employees with job titles that did not exist a decade ago, including cloud brokers who are responsible for managing an array of cloud services and IoT architects who are responsible for analyzing how multiple systems may affect data centers. With so many changes, it is not surprising to find things that companies are paying for but not using in the cloud as well as in on-premise deployments.
Furthermore, virtually every organization today is a software company to some extent. Off-the-shelf solutions such as CRM and ERP are no longer enough to satisfy the needs of the company. Most organizations need custom solutions that are often built in-house. The IT department must still shoulder the responsibility for internal customers who need business applications while addressing the needs of external customers.
Focusing on the Organization's Needs
With so much discussion of why companies need to make a digital transformation, it is easy to overlook the true purpose of the transformation. The transformation should support well-defined business strategies to deliver value to the organization through increased revenue, customer engagement, improved productivity or reduced costs. The purpose of the transformation is not to see how many different technologies can be implemented. Embracing technology for technology's sake is not going to help achieve business goals — in fact, it could actually undermine attempts.