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Digital Transformation – The Great Game – Part 1 of 3

This is a brief story of “Digital Transformation” from a Writer’s Layman point of view. These two words are flashed everywhere by highly paid experts and consultants to an extent where they claim that every business will die if it does not digitally transform itself frantically by adopting all or most of the new age technologies including Cloud, Social, Mobile Versions, AI, Chatbots, Machine Learning, etc.

Although true to a large extent, technology transformation projects where solutions are prescribed for problems that don’t exist yet are usually bound to run into troubles due to their lack of objectivity.

Don’t get me wrong, I can’t wait to get in a Driver-less car, turn on the TV, enjoy a CNN update and have lunch without worrying about the traffic or my surroundings, but it might be a while before we get there. So when a salesman shows up at your door telling you all the great things about Driver-less cars, I am sure you will listen to them but I doubt you would buy one right now. The same is true for some of the technology that is being sold in the enterprise.

Mapping a problem to a solution first before investing heavily in the solution itself is probably a better approach. However, if your company is in the research and development business for coming up with new solutions, you must of course invest time and money in all these new technologies and experiment with your enterprise’s R&D dollars. But, keep in mind, most R&D Dollars show up on the expense side of the P&L. As we all know, the executive management likes to see more entries in the revenue and profits side of the corporate P&L.

A few years ago, most of the enterprise IT stacks consisted of multiple legacy back-end systems (ERP, Other Systems of Records, Operational Applications, etc.) along with many internal and external facing web portals depending on the nature of the business. Many of these systems were tied together by many different integration strategies including Point to Point integrations, Enterprise Service Bus type integrations, etc. Organizations would gather data in operational data stores and feed that into enterprise data warehouses then run reports and analytics using BI Tools.

Life Was Great!

In the past 10-15 years, the “Clouds” started to show up and then, thanks to Apple, Salesforce, Amazon, Box, Dropbox, etc., enterprises figured out how to use it and what role a “Cloud” could play, and it was a lot more than just virtualized servers and storage. Computing became democratized, SaaS became the way you deliver Apps and the computing infrastructure became a commodity with almost infinite scalability and ongoing reduction in storage costs.

Next up was the Social and Mobile revolution. Although Cloud was a game changer for most of businesses, the Social and Mobile revolution did not provide many businesses with the same level of ROI, with the exception of consumer facing businesses.