It’s no secret that creating digital platforms and ecosystems demands a faster paced-IT capability.  But is moving to a two-speed IT model the best way to go?

IT leaders are challenged to keep innovating while over 60% of IT budgets remain focused on keeping the lights on.  Consumers and workers alike expect more and more apps for mobile and desktop apps that just work. They expect IT innovators to rapidly source always-on, powerful and instantly intuitive solutions to capture, access, manage and share information. To keep pace with the need for near-constant digital re-invention, a new kind of IT rapid development operations team is needed (sometimes called DevOps) and a ‘fail-fast’ prototyping approach that in itself requires a high-productivity applications platform to support it.

Embrace Digital Or Die

One fundamental change that’s happened in the last two or three years is the recognition by management teams that they can’t ignore the importance of digital technologies or their influence on markets and business models. Organizations have a stark choice; to embrace digital innovations, or die.

Buy or Build

In this new digital market reality, enterprises are faced with the option to buy an existing digital platform and ecosystem to support their business model orchestration, or build their own. In most cases, the only way for organizations to achieve a competitive edge is to do the latter.  Recognition of this change makes IT an intrinsic core competency of any business, not a support department only there to keep the lights on.

McKinsey & Co. suggest companies with digital platforms enjoyed an annual boost in earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) of 1.4 percent, compared with the 0.3 percent gains of non-players.  They go on to state that performance effects are cumulative, with EBIT improvements adding to early-year gains, so over a five- year period, platform players may capture an additional 10 percent in EBIT growth—a company’s 2 percent EBIT growth, for example, would increase to 2.2 percent in year five

 ‘The right digital-platform strategy’, Insights Report, McKinsey & Co, May 2019

DevOps – The Right Approach?

Enterprises are creating DevOps teams to support Digital Transformation (DX) at a rapid pace to speed up digital innovation and reduce the cost of operation.  Sometimes, DevOps teams are carved out of existing in-house resources and continue to report into the IT department, but in other cases, newly appointed Chief Digital Officers (CDO) roles are appointed to ensure a new culture is stitched into the design of this key enabling team. 

Which Route? Two-Speed or Integrated?

It’s an opinion only but my experience of two-speed team structures for digital transformation hasn’t been good. There’s a huge risk that some great people get left in the ‘slow-speed’ IT team that end up feeling disenfranchised. Also, the leadership of the two teams can end up squabbling all of the time and creating disruption and distractions that are at best unhelpful.  That said, if both teams accept their roles to be important, and the right personalities are placed in the right seats, then maybe it can work.

The Third Way

My preference is a third project structure. It’s what German companies call the ‘Organization Department’.  It’s a department that is responsible for managing change – a continuous improvement team that includes IT, analysts, legal, HR, marketing, program management competencies etc. in a single unifying team that sits within the body corporate led not by IT but the CEO.  Why this structure?  Because agility in business these days is a process.  It has a life-cycle like any other process. Organizations need to accept that change is not an intervention, it’s an always-on aspect of organizational performance.

Some Facts About Digital Transformation

%

88% of businesses say they are already under-going a digital transformation

%

On average middle-managers spend a quarter of their time searching for information... only to find that 50% of the data they find has no value

%

47% of job categories may be taken over by machines in the next two decades.

%

85% of businesses believe that cloud technology will transform their business or industry

%

On average over 60% of enterprise budget is spent on 'keeping the lights on' technology

%

40% of business managers cite a lack of urgency in the company as the biggest barrier to digital transformation

Source:

1. Altimeter Group Digital Transformation Survey
2. University of Oxford
3. Gartner (2112)
4. Gartner (2112)
5. Oxford Economics and SAP (2012)
6. MIT Sloan Mgmt. Review

 Why Tool-kits Matter

Without the right tool-kit, it’s not sensible or practical to consider in-house development of the technology you’ll need to orchestrate your business model.  When businesses continue to use manual coding of apps, they inevitably fall foul of the inherent weaknesses of human coding – project overruns, 

Encanvas software, and similar tools like MENDIX, SERVICENOW and OUTSYSTEMS equip businesses with the ability to design, deploy and run their own self-authored apps.  Encanvas is specifically engineered to support the project process for orchestrating business models through a series of software module developments.  This new genre of technology removes the technology obstacles of creating enterprise-scale applications such as coding, integrating and testing new applications.

How Live Wireframing Techniques Make Fail Fast Prototyping Affordable

A founding principle of rapid creation of apps is that it’s best to start small with the minimum set of requirements and get something working, delivering value.  The alternative to this is building a mammoth specifications requirements document that dreams up so many ‘nice-to-have’ features that it becomes impossible to economically produce.  When creating a best-fit app module, involving stakeholders (such as Customers, Partners, Users etc.) directly in the design process always works better. 

Removing code and presenting WYSIWYG results in a workshop environment is the best way to do this.

A Live-Wireframe is a fully functioning application prototype (pre-UAT) that proves the red-flag issues that the project team determines as being the biggest risks to project success.  The task of producing a Live-Wireframe is performed by having stakeholders work ‘across-the-desk’ with a business analyst who creates the resulting live-wireframe design in near-real-time.

As soon as line-of-business stakeholders get presented with a screen of code, they shy away from feeling they should contribute to the development process – it’s just too overwhelming.  With Live-Wireframes, stakeholders get to see during the design workshop, the live system they’re going to be using in all of its glory.  Seeing instant results in the form of a live-wireframe makes an enormous difference to project success, but it requires built-for-purpose development tools; a unifying design and deployment ecosystem that removes the need for IT to master a dozen different technology components before they can produce any outcome.

Learn More About How To Run Live Wire-framing Projects with Encanvas >

Two-Speed IT is unnecessary when enterprises create an Organization Department and install a culture of prototyping using Live-Wireframes into that team. It means digital platform design and management becomes an embedded capability of the enterprise, ensuring agility is seen as a constant (and is appropriately resourced).’

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