Digital Transformation is seen by many as the new frontier for IT, never seen before and therefore with new challenges that have never been addressed before. Digital “companies” appear that extol the virtues of how the world has now changed. Having worked in the IT industry for many years I can’t help but think that there are many parallels here with what happened as part of the e-Business initiative/dot-com boom a few (many?) years ago and therefore is this all that new and won’t history repeat again?

Firstly, innovation has started with the smaller vendors, start-up companies that are more nimble and move faster to market than the larger ERP vendors. The market is built around the message that the world has change, the old ways are dead (and everything that goes with it) and the new ways are the only true way. New job titles are appearing, the “X” in CXO is starting to mean new things and creative new roles are appearing. Similar messaging to the start of the boom but not everything panned out as was expected for very valid reasons. Where are those nimble companies now?

Now there is no getting away from the fact that from a marketing perspective innovative new business models are being developed that exploit some of the changes that Social Media and the good old internet can facilitate but companies still need to get product/service delivered, priced correctly, costed profitably, supported efficiently, etc. etc. So if we start to think wider, as we should to deliver a complete solution to customers, the previous challenges of e-business start to reappear. In fact they don’t, they never went away!

BUT, people will say, we now have the Enterprise BUS that provides usability and flexibility and the ability to plug solutions in and out, we have open standards and all the previous issues around integration of Best of Breed applications have been addressed. I’m sure that many more issues have been addressed than the previous attempt to deliver a low TCO solution for multiple, diverse applications but the fundamental challenges of different data models, interface latency/inertia, management of multiple 3rd parties remains. A landscape of multiple applications integrated, usually, through a different 3rd party integration tool again shows we are back in the days of e-business.

And what is the biggest similarity with the e-business initiative, the lack of a clear understanding of the required level of Business integration & Business change required. Point solutions are often thought of as solving point issues but the ramifications of these solutions can be very wide and need to be understood from the start. Whilst not always a bad thing, solutions are often delivered quickly for the benefit of the “business” user e.g. the CMO, often, I would personally argue, at the expense of the corporate user e.g. CEO, COO or CFO. Point solutions, without the proper consideration of the wider impact, lead to islands of information or process that can only be brought into the wider IT framework through expensive manual or automatic workarounds.

Capgemini has led the way in the delivery of Digital Transformation Services and we are positioning ourselves to be the market leader through the creation of a new dedicated Digital Transformation Unit. With this knowledge we recognise that the historical shift will now move towards taking Digital Transformation to the next level by recognising the learnings from our e-Business experience and applying them quicker that previously.

One such example will be a quicker move to a wider, more integrated application platform such as SAP CRM360. CRM360 already provides a broad footprint of integrated applications that can support the increase speed of response that the new Social Enterprise processes require.

BUT, and this is where the fundamental similarity is, Digital Transformation is not about technology. It’s not about APIs or architectures or development languages or even In-memory Applications. It’s is about satisfying customers demands quickly, effectively and without issue and therefore it is just e-Business 2.0!