We live in a time of instant gratification. Nearly every human impulse can be satisfied with just a few clicks of the mouse. We can instantly access almost the entire wealth of humanity’s collective learnings, whenever we feel like it.
And it’s made us very demanding. The first rising shots of frustration run through us after just a few seconds of that app not responding, that TV channel not changing, that webpage not loading. We’re living in the fast lane.
Countless breakthrough technology advancements have brought us to this – the era of now, now, now – where we can no longer tolerate delays or wait patiently.
It spills into the workplace… the entry of millennials and digital natives into the boardroom, and the workplace means staff expect the same experience from their company as they get from Apple or Netflix, with the emergence of a new philosophy: embracing change and disrupting the status quo.
Another word for this philosophy, to use today’s corporate watchword, is transformation, but its too slow…
For executives, responding to these new demands from staff and customers means shortening of the timeframes between strategy development and tactical execution. There has to be a plan to liberate the legacy, starting with resourcing your innovation capability separately from traditional IT. If your tech is older than 5 years its probably in the slow lane.
Research group Innosight predicts that 75% of the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (the largest 500 corprates in the US) will turn over in the next 15 years.
The companies falling out of favour will be those failing to transform fast enough, failing to bridge the gap between strategy and execution.
But while technology advancements have spurred the need for corporate transformation, the irony is that it’s only through new technology and processes that an organisation can speed up delivery and respond to customer demands and market conditions.
So clearly a large burden of the transformation responsibility falls on the shoulders of the CIO. Meeting these demands in a world of instant gratification involves adopting some new mantras:
- Build an innovation capability… this becomes the engine-room for future growth – where projects are explored, prioritised, funded and implemented
- Focus on business imperatives… rather than using technology for technology’s sake
- Pivot through a multitude of options… by testing out ideas and technologies, you’re able to see which innovations get the best traction and market response, and make continual adjustments.
- Focus on the end-customer… it’s a fallacy to believe that IT’s only customer is the business it serves. Developing true customer-centricity means building solutions with the end-user in mind, ahead of any internal stakeholders. Develop a strong outside-in awareness.
- Stop trying to transform what you’ve got, with what you’ve got… by locking the organisation increasingly tightly within legacy vendor solutions, more and more the IT budget is funnelled into maintenance, leaving little over for innovation. What is your ratio of legacy IT to Innovation budget?
- Think Bi-Modal, think Business Agile… In the digital age, some systems need to be changed annually, some monthly, and some from week to week. By addressing your IT landscape from a bi-modal perspective, you can build the rules to cater for both core stability as well as rapid agility. This requires SOA governance in the fast-changing customer-responsive layer and traditional governance to “keep the lights on”.
Keeping these principles at the fore of one’s thinking creates an environment where strategy can be developed, implemented and iterated in a continuous wheel. Today’s successful companies are reaping the rewards of putting that wheel in motion, gaining increasing momentum, and outpacing their peers.
Fundamentally we must shorten the time between strategy and execution or from business imperative or strategic intent to delivery.
Make it real now!