Digital Transformation and Data Integration
Digital transformation (DT) is one of those new buzzwords that I now hear a lot. However, it’s a bit confusing. I mean, did we not transform ourselves to digital systems years ago? If not, what is left to do?
If DT is about just converting those systems that are not automated into automated, those documents that are not digitized into PDFs, I’m not sure this aligns with the true spirit of DT. The best description of DT comes from my colleague, Galen Gruman, over at InfoWorld.
…“digital transformation is about more than digital products and services; it’s also about the processes that create, enable, manage, and deliver them. That’s where IT comes in. Processes and the underlying technologies should be fungible as well. Not all processes and technologies, of course — we still need reliable systems of records — but more than most companies now have.”
So, it’s not about the simple transformation of business assets into digital versions; it’s about actually doing something with those digitized assets. This is what most DT strategies miss, as I see it.
Data integration is a prime enabling technology in this arena. To maximize our DT, and find “processes that create, enable, manage, and deliver them” to the right entities in the company, then a DT and data integration strategy are joined at the hip.
Some DT has occurred over the last 20 yeas, and some data integration as well, so what’s left to do? Now is the time to back up a bit and understand exactly what’s been happening. This means finding out how much DT has occurred, and how we use those digital assets to drive the business. With many enterprises, it’s just doesn’t provide the value it should.
There are a few things to do: First, don’t get all caught up with this DT talk. It’s so vaguely defined that it’s actually counterproductive. Second, understand the real value. It’s about moving data to the right places at the right time to better automate the business. A better-automated business provides better value, but it’s also easily changed. This ability to change delivers the fungible processes, which is the true value of DT.
So, DT, at least, how I define it, won’t do you much good if you don’t pair it with data integration. Indeed, both are cheap compared to the value that they can bring to the business.
So, now is the time to get both DT and data integration strategies front and center, and generously fund them for 2016 and 2017. I understand that DT has been going on for the last 20 years, so continue that fight. But, the pairing of DT with data integration will be the single most productive thing that DT brings to your organization.