Whether getting IT transformation off the ground or spinning up new offerings or experiences, moving quickly is the only way to get and stay ahead at a time when always-on innovation is the norm. Because of this, “fail fast” is among the most common mantras in today’s corporate world. However, every corporate leader knows that the tolerance for failure doesn’t always go hand in hand with professional success.
Given this reality, IT leaders need to find ways to get their digital transformation initiatives moving quickly – at low risk. One of the best ways to do this is to bring in external expertise and vendors who can deliver pre-built solutions and components. Although many organizations we work with often initially think they need or should do
the majority of the work themselves, it’s important to remember that all or part of any new digital feature or capability an organization wants to build has likely been created already by someone else.
From packaged industry solutions to accelerators and libraries of software components that enable next-gen capabilities, there are many ways to leverage pre-existing content to enable your team to spend less time developing and more time delivering.
For example, a quick-serve restaurant looking to create a highly personalized customer experience could plug in pre-built components rather than spending the time building facial recognition, product ordering, or menu-management capabilities on its own. In the manufacturing sphere, we leveraged pre-built code and capabilities to help an organization go live with a pilot for a worker-safety and productivity solution in less than two weeks.
Yet many IT organizations still operate in a do-it-yourself mindset, where they spend time building rather than leveraging pre-existing solutions. There are inherent risks to taking this approach, and these organizations miss out on some of the benefits that come with pre-packaged offerings and capabilities beyond just speed to market. Here are a few:
Skills optimization. When it comes to digital transformation, skills around new technologies can be hard to find. Leveraging pre-built solutions reduces the time and the effort to ramp up the right team, so organizations don’t miss their window of opportunity to get to market ahead of the competition.
Focus on differentiation. Using pre-built solutions also frees up the bandwidth of the current team to build features and capabilities that differentiate your organization from the competition, which is a capability that can only come from within. The less time your team spends developing functionality that can come from elsewhere, the more time they’re able to spend developing capabilities that set your organization apart.
Built-in best practices. Because digital initiatives include new and maturing technologies like cloud, IoT, and wearables, it can be difficult to fully understand potential challenges or failure points when approaching these initiatives on your own. With pre-architected capabilities, organizations have greater peace of mind and, in general, higher quality, given that everything has been previously tried and tested. For example, when leveraging wearables as in the worker-safety solution previously mentioned, manufacturing organizations spend a lot of time ensuring that battery life is sufficient or that devices are intrinsically safe. By leveraging pre-built capabilities, they can instead focus on reporting and results.
Outside perspective. When companies build everything themselves, they risk missing out on external perspectives that could generate new ideas and opportunities that hadn’t been considered. For example, many manufacturers may think the only way to leverage their machine data is through a predictive-maintenance lens, when, in reality, there are myriad ways an organization can benefit from access to this information, from automated root-cause analysis to predictive quality.
Freedom to experiment. Initial over-investment without sufficient ROI is a risk when it comes to developing new capabilities. Digital transformation in particular requires experimentation and pilot projects before scaling up, but the ability to run proofs of concepts can be elusive in a do-it-yourself approach where dollars already spent may prevent companies from pulling the plug at the right time. By leveraging pre-built solutions and capabilities, organizations can experiment with minimal investment – and minimal risk.
Whether adopting a full scale, end-to-end solution, leveraging accelerators combining code with execution capabilities, or using pre-existing software libraries, organizations that leverage pre-built solutions benefit from faster speed to market and much more. The benefits are further amplified if pre-built code comes from vendors who have a strong understanding of both business and varied digital technologies like cloud or AI. Organizations should take a close look at their digital transformation roadmap and identify areas where they could benefit from pre-built code or capabilities.
Chiranth Ramaswamy is a Solutions Director within the application and cloud technologies business in North America. For more information about how to harness the power of cloud and application technologies to make digital business a reality, access The digital CIO’s handbook here.