Design For Digital #3 – Business Mon Amour

Digital Transformation needs a true fusion between digital capabilities and business change, not merely alignment. To earn ‘business love’, the IT department must successfully deliver, while demonstrating digital mastery and the ability to innovate through technology. First, the requirements binder needs to go. Once seen as a bridge, it’s now often perceived as a barrier between business and IT. Instead, digital platforms need to build the inspiration to jointly assemble the right solutions for change. The IT function is successful, if the business side happily takes the stage to testify about technology benefits, and the lead in Digital Transformation projects. Plus, holding a significant part of the budget doesn’t hurt.

Historically, love has not exactly played an essential role in the relationship between business and information technology. Mutual distrust is not the right Petri dish for love. Business never liked the IT black box — too much mystery, too much jargon, too much cost, too long lead times. IT never liked the business fortress — too arrogant, too much jargon, too many changes, too much impatience.

As they needed each other, they found a way of working together. Business puts together big binders of requirements, ships them to IT, which, a few months or years later, delivers the finished product — an application that, when it works, meticulously fulfills every requirement. Good in theory, frustrating in practice — today’s application by definition reflects yesterday’s requirements.

In the era of Digital Transformation, business and IT are condemned to love each other for one simple reason: business without IT doesn’t survive; IT without business impact, dies.

Luckily, love has become so much easier. A natural emotion, you might say. Business people have become fans of modern technology. They now see it through the smiling faces of their smart phones, tablets and smart ‘things’. IT people share this passion, and appreciate how technology changes business.

When in love, one speaks in a way that is easily understood by the partner — goodbye jargon! When in love, one spends lots of time together. Ideas are generated, separate strategies converge and become one, projects are integrated, responses come before questions — a single rhythm binds the orchestra. When in love, one experiences harmony and collaboration.

Utopian? No, a way of life for Digital Enterprises — and one of the keys to their success.

How do you know when business and technology are in love? Here are love indices:

1. They burn the requirements binders and adopt new preferences for creating solutions:

Capabilities over Requirements

– Value Scenarios over Use Cases

– Working Prototypes over Specifications

– Dialog over Paper

– Catalog over Custom-built

– Joint understanding over Positions

– Pictures over Descriptions

- Stories over Structures

– Platforms over Crafting

2. They work as one team. Enterprise projects are entrusted to teams assembling all necessary competencies and capabilities. 

3. They start before the start, exploring and creating together. In the value chain, to ensure products and services truly fit the digital world, research and development includes information technology. 

4. They draw one architecture only — the enterprise architecture depicts, in a single blueprint, the flows of business, their technology embodiments, and the envisioned changes. 

5. And they regularly deliver, but never end their development; because, as a part of the world of networks, the enterprise needs to constantly adapt and connect and readapt and reconnect. 

Whichever ‘side’ you’re on, always ponder if you’ve taken the effort to ensure true love on the other side. Digital Transformation is a long, but exciting journey and one shouldn’t undertake it in the spirit of a ‘marriage of convenience’. 

Expert: Pierre Hessler  

Part of Capgemini’s TechnoVision 2016 update series. See the overview here.