Managing Digital Business Acceleration for the New Normal

69% of BoDs have accelerated their digital initiatives in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, but how will businesses keep up with this accelerated pace of change?

Managing Digital Business Acceleration for the New Normal

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The forthcoming Gartner Virtual IT Symposium has a heavy focus on digital business acceleration, which Gartner see as one of the major trends for business as the world recovers from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Research from the firm found that 69% of Boards of Directors have accelerated their digital business initiatives following the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, with almost half anticipating a change in their business model due to the pandemic. The acceleration of digital change increases the speed of an already rapid process, demanding more and more from enterprises struggling to meet the demands of the information age. Inevitably, some firms placing their foot on the accelerator will end up slamming into a digital wall. 

Even Big Enterprises can Struggle 

Even a quick browse of the news will throw up plenty of examples of risky digital moves. Car manufacturers who have bet big on “smart” cars powered by computer chips now find themselves unable to manufacture due to global supply chain issues with semiconductors (an issue that will affect many involved in Internet of Things). Planning to move into cryptocurrency trading or accept the currencies for e-commerce? The Chinese central bank has dealt the field a massive blow by outlawing cryptocurrency transactions. Even an ‘internet native’ firm like Twitter has seen a number of initiatives fail to generate significant revenue while spending more than $3bn on R&D.  

Twitter’s example highlights the hidden risk of careless acceleration as well. Development resources are an obvious loss, but rushed digital initiatives can also cause damage through the exposure of security flaws and potential for hacks. Twitter’s Tip Jar payment feature launched in May came with several potential privacy flaws. 

Recognize the Risks 

That rapid change comes with risk is not exactly a noteworthy observation. Gartner’s research and the forthcoming IT Symposium advertise the importance of acceleration, but they also take care to note that sustained pace is not easy to maintain. The linked article highlights three steps that can help: Pause, Evaluate and Teach; hardly the actions of a reckless strategy.  

Beyond Gartner’s sage advice, what steps should businesses take to keep up with the pace of change, without imploding?  

There are a wide range of possible actions a firm can take, but at Orbus Software our focus is on Enterprise Architecture (EA), which could be the perfect solution for many of the issues raised by rapid digital transformation. 

Lean, Efficient Strategic Portfolios Minimize Digital Friction 

One way to maintain a lean and efficient digital profile while keeping costs down is to engage in Application Rationalization, eliminating unnecessary app costs and prioritizing a slim application portfolio. This aligns with the advice of Gartner VP Stephen Smith, who recommends that businesses targeting digital acceleration remove irrelevant pre-COVID assets and try to minimize “digital friction” caused by unnecessary processes and tools. Orbus Software’s iServer365 can produce rationalization recommendations within 4 weeks, thanks to its central repository and built in visualizations removing many of the roadblocks in the process. 

Agile EA is an Opportunity 

Agility has been one of the biggest advantages for start-ups and other smaller entrants over the past decades, with these nimble companies outfoxing the much larger established enterprises. Now, Agile development and the related culture has become a buzzword in business circles, with every company seeking to improve their agility and perhaps implementing some form of Agile. Certainly, improving agility should help a business accelerate their digital business while maintaining the ability to react to external change, but can it work with EA? Fortunately, the two can complement it each other quite well, despite the seeming contradictions. Agile and Agile DevOps are big topics which we can’t focus on here, but for any who want to read more about incorporating Agile with EA, “Architecting for Agile DevOps” should answer key questions. 

Faster Decision Making Protects Against External Change 

As an Enterprise Architecture practice matures, it will also play a large role in business strategy and decision making. Properly implemented, EA will portray every aspect of a firm’s technology and strategy, as well as the relationships between these different elements, enabling impact analysis. Business Capability Models built on enterprise data can highlight capability gaps which demonstrate where investment is needed. iServer365 enables businesses to make smarter, faster decisions that enable transformation thanks to its decision analysis features and seamless integrations with collaborative software. A capability model can be rapidly put together by architects and socialized with key stakeholders, while out of the box impact analysis visualizations demonstrate the potential effects of changes before they occur. 

“Having one source of truth gives us great visibility so everyone knows what they’re doing. It plays a foundational role in digital transformation.”  

In truth, we have only covered a fraction of the possibilities for EA to manage the pace of your digital transformation initiatives in this blog. If you’d like to learn more, visit our virtual booth at Gartner’s Virtual IT Symposium and chat with us, or contact us directly to see how iServer365 can help your business.

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