The IT modernization movement is moving beyond the initial euphoria around the potential of digital technologies. Companies taking steps to modernize their IT are recognizing that it’s a very substantial endeavor and will take years to accomplish. In committing to the long haul of the modernization journey, several situations are becoming apparent, causing companies to take a more mature, measured approach in how they evolve their technology.
I marvelled at the passion demonstrated by the London Extinction Rebellion activists while I attempted to make my way to the Digital Agenda Power & Responsibility Summit at the British Library on 9 October.
During the Summit itself – while listening to presentations delivered by eminent speakers including Matt Warman MP, Minister for Digital and Broadband at DCMS; Sana Khareghani, Head of UK Government Office for AI; Russell Haworth, CEO, Nominet; Cheryl Stevens MBE, Deputy Director for Trust & Identity at DWP; Jacqueline de Rojas CBE, President, techUK; and Caroline Criado Perez OBE, award-winning author of Invisible Woman and activist – it struck me that consumer disillusionment with unethical applications of technology could lead to its own type of activism in the form of product and service boycotts.
In today’s increasingly competitive environment, enterprises need to package their offerings with superior and memorable experiences to remain relevant. They need to streamline their efforts to deliver a unified and seamless digital experience to stakeholders. While they’ve attempted to achieve this with point solutions such as CRM platforms, campaign management tools, and other experience management solutions, their disjointed and incompatible portfolios have often created more problems than solutions.
Enter the Digital Experience Platform (DXP)
In response to an obvious need, vendors including Adobe, IBM, Oracle, and Salesforce have created a digital experience platform or DXP. We define a DXP as a comprehensive suite of solutions enabling enterprises to deliver a content-rich, stakeholder-driven digital experience (DX), encompassing all digital touchpoints.
Its main function is to digitally enable the three pillars or modules of DX – content management, brand engagement, and digital e-commerce – so enterprises can create business value through a well-structured and unified experience.
The Digital Experience Platform (DXP)
- Content management: A DXP offers various services across the content management lifecycle, such as dynamic templates for designers, a library of frequently used content, and widgets and tools for reviewing and publishing content to multiple platforms, which help enterprises effectively and centrally manage the content they publish.
- Brand engagement: A DXP unlocks numerous aspects of brand engagement across functions including marketing, advertising, sales, and experience management. With capabilities like end-to-end campaign automation and drag-and-drop tools to design customer journey maps, a DXP enables experience-as-a-service for enterprises.
- Digital e-commerce: A DXP activates different facets of digital e-commerce with solutions like AI-enabled merchandising, visual merchandising, automated management and maintenance of product data, and central dashboards to manage all websites.
In addition, a DXP has tools to help deliver a data-driven experience across the customer experience value chain by enabling functions such as sales, marketing, merchandising, and content publishing via different modules.
Beyond the basics
Most of the DXPs in today’s market provide the same basic services. But the leading DXP providers also provide ancillary, value-add services on top. Some of the most popular are omnichannel services, API-integration, and tools for improved developer experience.
Per our recently released research report, BigTech Battle: Digital Experience Platforms (DXP) Assessment – Rise of the Digital Experience Platform, the leading players are adding more functionality to the DXP to enhance its features and functionality. For instance, they are helping make the development process less technical with the help of services such as What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWIG) interfaces, drag and drop functionality, and templates to create new experiences. This significantly reduces the creative team’s dependency on the technical team and improves the overall efficiency of the experience delivered. The top providers also have tools for end-to-end omnichannel customer journey mapping and enable the use of “win scores” to prioritize sales opportunities and probability metrics to measure the experience delivered.
These players are also using technology to enhance the functionality of the different solutions they offer, such as AI for content creation, event-based automation (cart abandonment), and advanced analytics solutions.
Simply put, a DXP is a more efficient way for an enterprise to manage its DX. In today’s increasingly competitive market, enterprises need to leverage a platform-based approach to deliver a compelling and sticky experience.
For more insight on the DXP market and a detailed analysis of current vendors, please read our report: BigTech Battle: Digital Experience Platforms (DXP) Assessment – Rise of the Digital Experience Platform.
It’s getting harder and harder to do business with third parties because of complications arising from security, data privacy, GDPR, and other regulations. The complications are running headlong into the need to be agile and operate at high velocity. To do that, companies need to be able to move quickly and make things simple. But these regulatory requirements are making that complicated; they take time, thus creating real friction in trying to conduct transactions. This is particularly the case with trying to do business with third-party services. The consequences create a formidable barrier in trying to select the best providers/vendors.
The story we tell ourselves as executives is that we make decisions based on facts, on data. We want our organizations to be data-driven organizations with decisions based on “institutional conviction.” In reality, making well-informed decisions and getting others to support those decisions is a factor of how deep and well supported the convictions are and leaders’ ability to persuade others of those convictions. However, without data and facts, people typically believe the executives’ underlying assumptions are wrong or incomplete.
The demise of the mainframe has been predicted every year over the past decade. With digital and cloud transformation becoming the enterprise norm, the death-knell has been getting louder. But, for multiple reasons, mainframes aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.
For example, they are designed for efficiency and allow enterprises to run complex computations in a compact infrastructure with high utilization levels. They receive regular updates that can be applied without any business disruption, making them easily expandable and upgradable. The latest mainframes work well with mobile applications, which are becoming the norm across industries. And the fact that mainframes host some of enterprises’ most critical production data has created somewhat of a lock-in situation.
Despite mainframes’ staying power, a variety of factors – including 1) difficulty integrating mainframe-housed data with the rest throughout the enterprise; 2) the shrinking number of IT professionals who understand mainframes’ architectural complexities; and 3) mainframes’ lack of agility – can prevent enterprises from excelling in today’s digital environment.
Levers Enterprises Can Pull to Maximize Their Mainframe Value
With these issues in mind, some enterprises think they should eliminate mainframes completely from their technology environment. But that’s not the best route to take in the short- to medium-term. Rather, by embracing the best of mainframes and digital technologies, they can gain on operational costs and capital invested and realize business flexibility and agility without a loss of continuity or high mainframe efficiency levels.
Our Recommendations on How You Can Achieve Maximum Value from Your Mainframes
Mainframe upgrades – The latest mainframe releases mimic the benefits offered by the cloud. If you haven’t upgraded to the newest release, you should consider doing so now.
Phased retiring of applications – For applications that can work as effectively on the cloud as on mainframes, you should develop new ones on the cloud and slowly phase out the old ones from your mainframe. This approach will avoid business disruptions and help you quickly build new services while still being able to access real-time mainframe data.
Mainframe-as-a-Service (MaaS) –If you’re looking to go asset light, you can adopt MaaS, wherein your existing mainframe assets are transferred to a services provider. In these arrangements, you’ll be charged on an actual consumption basis if you meet a minimum volume commitment. You’ll gain the most value from MaaS when you use it in conjunction with phased retiring of applications, because it will allow you to gain the benefits of a consumption model while preparing your cloud environment in parallel.
Automated migration to modern tech stacks – Multiple tools and services are available to migrate a legacy stack (such as COBOL-based) to a newer stack (such as Java-based or .Net-based,) in an automated fashion. Given the variety of mainframe languages, databases, and infrastructure technologies going into the migration, you should always adopt a custom migration approach.
Wrapper approaches – In the short-term, instead of migrating away from your mainframe, you can augment it with agile data services that enable data interoperability with the rest of your infrastructure. You can also run emulators on the cloud and host legacy application code with minimum changes.
Mainframes are far from dead and will continue to form the backbone of many large enterprises in the near future. However, to excel in today’s digital world, you need to reconsider your mainframe strategy to get the best of all emerging digital technologies. Of course, there is no one size fits all solution. So, you’ll need to take a customized approach, combining the various transformation levers that are most applicable to your enterprise’s unique situation.
How do you think mainframes will fare in the digital world? Please share your thoughts with me at [email protected].
Change can be painful for companies and individuals. But if you are undergoing a digital transformation, there’s simply no getting around it. In fact, the degree of change is greater, and there is a cascading set of consequences for these deep changes, which each require their own change management.
At Everest Group, executives often ask us, “What is the most effective change-management tool or method for driving the necessary change in transformation?” Answering that question, I first point out two hard truths:
Executives cause their own problems with change management – often in three key areas – that make their efforts to drive change ineffective. As a result, they encounter big, expensive problems and passive-aggressive behaviors that delay achieving the objectives or even cause the transformation initiative to fail.
People don’t change unless they want to.
There is a “changing of the guard” at DXC Technology. Mike Salvino is now President and Chief Executive Officer and succeeds Mike Lawrie, who served as DXC’s Chairman, President and CEO. The change in leadership is happening at one of the last US national champions of the services industry. This move will be viewed with interest in many of the largest US and global firms, as DXC is a strategic partner to many of the Fortune Global 500 companies. Here’s what you need to know about the challenges and opportunities DXC and Salvino now face.
Here’s a sobering fact: Everest Group research found that 78 percent of enterprises fail in their digital transformation initiatives. Failure here can mean multiple things, including unsustainable returns, lack of user adoption, or, even worse, abandoned projects.
The following picture illustrates one of the key reasons they’re failing. What is it?
It’s a Steaming Pile of Technology – what we call a SPOT. And, unfortunately, it’s where most organizations start their digital transformation journey.
Why do I say unfortunately? The truth is that a technology-led approach won’t enable you to achieve the business value you expect from your digital transformation initiative. Indeed, as you see in our holistic, interconnected Digital Success Model, technology is only one of eight components that you need to get right to succeed.
Let’s take a quick look at all eight components, which we categorize under strategy and solution.
With so much at stake, you have to begin your digital transformation journey by defining where you want to go and how you’ll get there. The four critical strategy components you must address at the very onset are:
This must clearly and concisely cover what you specifically want to achieve in both the short- and long-term. For example, is the initiative to drive revenues, cut costs, improve customer experience, extend competitive advantage, be compliant? The objective functions will fundamentally dictate your digital transformation journey’s “rate of spin.”
Typical funding models don’t work in digital transformation programs because they focus on achieving ROI in a short timeframe. Instead, you need to establish the right budget centers in the to-be-transformed business and functional unit/s, and the right funding mechanism – CapEx versus OpEx. Additionally, you should put in place funding gates to ensure your business objectives are met during interim check-points.
Organization and cultural
We consider organizational culture and change management the most important element of the digital strategy model. In order to succeed, you must create an empowered, cross-functional journey team that aligns the C-suite, business stakeholders, and IT stakeholders. Emphasis on agility, risk tolerance, and decision-making speed and flexibility are key. And to make sure your new culture takes hold and sticks, you need to adequately budget both time and money for a comprehensive change program.
Performance and governance
As management guru Peter Drucker said, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.” To effectively manage the success of your digital transformation journey, you need to identify and measure metrics that tie back to your vision. You also need to establish interim milestones for these metrics to track progress, allocate funding, and drive any needed course correction. Many enterprises find that investing in a digital transformation Program Management Office can help them handle performance and governance on the operational, tactical, and strategic levels.
Once you have your strategy in place, you can move on to shaping the solution.
When selecting your technology, a “one-off, one and done” approach may deliver very short-term spurts of success, but it won’t deliver sustained business value. To achieve ongoing success, you need to embrace a platform-based operating model as the foundation for your digital transformation journey. What we call a Digital Capability Platform helps you look at all your users – your employees, your customers, and your partners – in the context of all the technological enablers to drive the customer experience, decisions, process efficiency, and scalability and performance.
The best strategy, funding mechanisms, technology, etc., can’t deliver to your expectations if you don’t have the right talent. Indeed, your ability to compete in the digital era depends on having the right talent, at the right time, in the right places. You need to prioritize using an elaborate sourcing ecosystem to find the talent you need today, and establish a robust resource management program to help you plan for future skill requirements.
Not surprisingly, data is a key enabler of your digital transformation success. Consider this: our research found that 100 percent of successful enterprises use digital initiatives to collect data and perform analytics for better insights that drive better outcomes, and 94 percent use some form of data and analytical solutions to augment their strategic decision-making. You need to be able to convert your existing volumes of data into a high-quality, actionable enterprise asset to achieve longer-term digital transformation success.
Ecosystem and sourcing
And finally, digital transformation cannot happen within the boundaries of your organization, or even the boundaries of the industry in which you operate. By partnering with start-ups, academia, government, tech vendors, staffing companies, transformation partners, orchestrators, and peers, you can unlock breakthrough value from your digital efforts.
This full-scale realignment of your digital strategy and solution ecosystem is challenging and can feel overwhelming. But it’s critical to your short- and long-term success. Our IT and digital transformation membership offering can help. To learn more, please click here.
There is no business we can think of that is immune from the shifting demands of consumers in our digital world.
I was recently doing working with a 125-year-old insurance company headquartered in the American Midwest to develop a digital transformation strategy. As with most insurance companies, its policies are sold through a network of financial professionals, who, in this instance, are predominately male, “middle of America” seasoned investment advisors. They have their ways of doing business that have worked for them for decades.
But here’s the challenge they are facing. Their customers are aging and, in a few years, their wealth will transfer to their children. Connections need to be made today with this generation of people set to inherit their parents’ wealth. Most likely, the old ways of doing business will not work with them.
One of the first exercises I performed with the senior executives of this insurance company was to ask them to individually share digital positionings of other companies that they admired and could be used as examples for their own transformation. In total, they provided 25 names with 11 of them being digital natives. The significance of this is that a group of senior executives of a 125-year-old, Midwest-based company competing in a highly conservative industry offered companies such as Amazon, Uber, and Zappos as ones they wanted to emulate.
The impact digital native companies are having on customer expectations is so pervasive in the marketplace that not even this group of conservative executives could escape it. Regardless of your industry, customers will expect a digital experience.
Elements of the pervasive digital expectations that are currently in the market include:
- Anywhere, anytime functionality, including a fully functioning mobile-first user experiences
- Minimal wait times with preferably near real-time processing of everything
- Micro-customization of the user experience based upon data and analytics
- Multi-channel communications
- Self-serve service and delivery options
As you think about and plan your digital transformation journey, do not think you are immune from the massive shift in consumer expectations – even if you are in a B2B industry. The reality is that all businesses are filled with humans that consume goods and services in a digital marketplace every day. Once exposed, they cannot help but bring the same expectations of convenience, speed, and customization to all of their business and commerce interactions.