What's in a word? Well - a lot, it seems. If you glance at the business consultants' web sites, read the reports from the analysts or attend seminars, DIGITAL is everywhere. Cloud is now the subtext and the big grander challenge of an all-digital company is the ambition.
Peeling back the superlatives, the objective is simple and inevitable. Use digital technologies to optimise the efficiency of your business, from your go-to-market strategy through to your supply chain and all points in between.
The most successful companies in the past 10 years are ones that could be regarded as purely digital, based on the efficiency of a market ubiquitously served by the Internet (for free) and a product that is fulfilled without cost, or in the case of social networking mere interaction is the product.
For many the assertion that your business can become 100% digital isn't practical but the simplicity and efficiency of digitisation is an ambition that can be leveraged in every business, whether it is shifting bulk aggregates, or tailoring bespoke suits for a global market.
As someone who began their working life as a semiconductor design engineer working in the fairly obscure world of mixed signal control electronics, there were two things that DIGITAL meant back then. First was compromise: if we could make it all digital it was cheaper with a higher yield, but the art was to compromise what we could achieve for the minimum cost and maximum competitive advantage. Secondly, digital control trumped the dark arts of analogue control by starting with the answer and working backwards.
Wind the clock forward for thinking about the all-digital company. First, start with an ambition (the answer) and identify the areas that are blocks to that ambition. Those blocks (or errors) are your projects. Secondly, and critically, be prepared to compromise. The old world and the new world are not the same. Those all-digital companies took risks, lots of them, and were built on a culture where change is continuous.
The goal of DIGITAL is simple: "create value through changing the nature of competition". There are swathes of varied advice from the analysts, but Gartner has captured the mood and words of caution in three points.
1. Strong Leadership:
Have someone take charge. IT by committee is a disaster and you need to have a strong focus on what really matters. Avoid the distraction of technology and convoluted requirement analysis. The question for many organisations is "do you have the people?"
2. Bimodal Development:
This means; be prepared to develop your capabilities in an iterative agile release cycle.
DevOps is the catchphrase but the practical takeaway is that all requirements are stale the moment they are captured so develop by increments, check and repeat. It's common sense really.
3. Renovate your Core:
Most Enterprise infrastructure was not designed with the Internet economy in mind so it lacks the required agility. Private and public clouds and hybrid structures are all part of renovating the core.
Interoute believes there is a simpler and more progressive way to think about the last point. Whether you are dealing with public cloud or private data centre, or both, break out from the model that separates computing from network and move forward with an integrated digital platform. A platform that combines the flexibility, immediacy and dynamism of the public cloud with the performance, compliance and control of a private cloud. A platform that is global but local enough to serve all your markets efficiently, that is legacy-aware and capable of integrating those things that will never be virtualised.