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How Do You Know if IT is Truly Transformational?

By Daryl Bishop

Daryl Bishop-crop“Transform your organisation by leveraging the convergence of cloud with the inherent synergies between the information superhighway and the innovation confluence between crowdsourcing and viral inputs.”

We’ve all sat in meetings and presentations listening to meaningless strings of words like these being thrown around with reckless abandon. The biggest offender among these terms is the word transformation. It seems that every IT organization is undergoing a transformation of one type or another.

In the dictionary, transformation is defined as a marked change in form, nature, or appearance. By this rationale, any IT project could be considered a transformation, however I think it’s a little more nuanced than this.

For example, a number of years ago I was involved in a mail platform migration from Lotus Notes to Exchange. Within the technology department, this project was heralded as a major transformation. Was this really a transformation? The first step in deciding is ensuring that we’re all speaking the same language, i.e., we have a common definition.

To decide whether an initiative is truly transformational, there are some key attributes to consider:

  • Aligned to a business transformation
    The surest indicator of an IT transformation is whether it is aligned to a business transformation. When the business undergoes a transformation, for example moving into digital markets, then IT needs to follow suit.
  • Touches technology, process, and people
    Transformation should not be limited to just technology; it needs to reach across the IT organization to include the elements of people and process. The software-defined data center (SDDC) vision is a great example of a transformation that drives efficiency and automation across the entire IT organization and fundamentally changes the way IT does business.
  • Usually a large program of work
    Larger programs of work have more touch points across the IT organization. This is not solely an attribute of transformation, but it’s certainly an indicator. In my earlier example, if the mail migration were a component of a larger activity based working (ABW) program, then it would be a transformation!
  • Often has a cost reduction coupled with a productivity dividend goal
    IT is continually being asked to reduce cost while delivering improved service levels. As a result, transformation almost always has cost reduction, efficiency, and productivity dividends. Otherwise, why would you bother?
  • Is innovative, introduces something new, or modernizes
    By definition a transformation is a change — and real transformation is driven by innovation within the IT organization. Businesses survive and thrive based on driving new innovations within their markets. IT is no different and must continually innovate to remain relevant and deliver the services the business needs, all within budget.

Using my previous mail exchange migration example, the outcome was not transformational as it was purely technology-focused with the business impact being a change in mail platform; evolutionary perhaps — certainly not revolutionary.

Now that we understand and have defined what constitutes a transformation, I’ll talk about how to transform your IT organization using VMware’s end-user computing vision in my next post.

In the interim, if you think of other elements that are required for a transformation or have any feedback, please drop me a line.

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Daryl Bishop is a business solutions architect with VMware Accelerate Advisory Services and is based in Melbourne, Australia.

CIOs Need to Restructure to Deliver Today’s Innovations

No doubt you’ve heard the argument that CIOs are merely technology brokers who “don’t matter” in the world of digital business. We all know that the opposite is true: CIOs who understand the intersection of business and technology matter more than ever. What also matters is that you understand when it’s time to change your organization to meet the needs of the business.

infoweek coverTake a moment to check out this InformationWeek report, which provides practical advice on when and why to restructure, what guiding principles apply, how to get help, and where it pays to take some calculated risks.

Related: Infographic distills 2014 Strategic CIO Survey results