Aligning IT and Business in a Digital-First World

Connections ’22 was a day-long conference offering insight, networking and information. It offered inspiration and, perhaps, intimidation. Sponsored by e-Core, Connections ’22 was true to its name. It brought together some of the leading thinkers in IT. It also offered specific solutions to such popular IT topics as Cloud migration, cybersecurity and ITSM. {It was attended by more than 200 IT professionals, representing 61 companies.}

As expressed in its title, the premise is laudable but daunting: “Aligning IT and Business in a Digital-First World.” Most enterprise businesses and IT organizations are better aligned than ever in their goals and strategies, said Bruce Guptill, chief strategist at Addressable Markets and contributing analyst at The Analyst Syndicate. But, even after 50 years of enterprise IT, an average of 70% of business IT projects still fail to meet objectives within time and cost expectations, he asserted.

That we are in a “Digital First World” was undisputed by the many speakers. Digital transformation is coming for us all, whether we like it or not. Daunting challenges and an ever-accelerating pace of that digital world are alarming. Terry Jones noted it took the telephone 50 years to reach 50 million users. Pokémon Go did it in 15 days. Jones is founder of Travelocity and founding chairman of Kayak.

However, before you rail at your boss who, “just doesn’t get it,” take a look at Nancy Rademaker’s presentation. She pointed out that while technology growth is exponential, human minds are linear. She cited Martec’s Law, which states that technology develops exponentially, but organizations change logarithmically. Even Bill Gates said, “We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next 10.” Rademaker is a futurist and co-founder at Drawify.

In fact, before you’re assigning the blame to someone else, consider owning it yourself. Spencer Horn, from Team Performance Authority, espoused “Owning Your Outcomes.” He cited latest Gallup research saying only 21% of us are engaged in our work. He defined three types of responsibility: non-responsibility, irresponsibility, and responsibility. He offered five steps to take greater ownership in your work: own your values, own your outcomes, own your failures, own your development, and own your thoughts. Employee engagement is critical for successful digital transformation. Rademaker said that 70% of all digital transformations fail, because the human side of change is not addressed. She quoted Doug Conant, CEO Campbell’s Soup, “To win in the marketplace, you must first win in the workplace.”

Speakers agreed that change – deep, radical, change – is coming to all businesses. Rademaker said, “Three quarters of (executives) predict significant industry disruption in the next three years.” She explained, “It’s all about survival in what I call the ‘next normal.’ The next normal is basically this era where we’ve moved from digital being a novelty to digital becoming the new norm.” Guptill said, “It doesn’t matter what business you are in anymore. You’re going to emphasize your technology.” Jones said, “Disruption is here. It’s now. And we have to deal with it,” he said. He added that disruptors are defined by perspective. “The only reason you call it a disruption is because you didn’t do it,” he said. “To the disruptor it’s an innovation.”

They talked about how hard it is to change. The engine of innovation rests on two pillars, Jones said, culture and teams. “Changing culture is a contact sport,” he added. He suggests hiring people who don’t fit in, people who are not like you. Jones quoted Gordon Moore, co-founder Intuit, “The world wants geniuses. It just wants them to behave like other people.” Jones said digital transformation requires a change in culture to allow experimentation and failure. Innovation is not the Olympics, Jones opined, a one-time, one-shot at your best. “Innovation is like baseball,” he said. “If you fail 70% of the time, you’re actually awesome. You get a lot of chances in baseball.” Jones said, “Twenty percent of what Kayak displays every day is a test.” Rademaker quoted Jack Ma, CEO, Alibaba, “At Alibaba we don’t have strategy. We do A-B testing every single day. And we adapt accordingly, preferably within two days.”

Jones said, “We have to allow failure. That’s one of the biggest problems in corporations. They don’t take risks. You have to kill projects and not people. I think the biggest thing in the twenty-first century is you have to say ‘yes.’ If you come together, you have assets any startup would die for. All those startups have already said yes. They’re focused on one thing, and coming to kill you.”

They outlined consequences of failing to act. “Change is inevitable, but growth is optional,” Jones said. “The problem with innovation is most people are afraid of it,” he added. Guptill said, “There’s no such thing as a sustainable technological advantage.” Rademaker quoted General Eric Shinseki, U.S. Army Chief of Staff, “If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.”

There’s so much more! Connections ’22 outlined some specific tools to accomplish digital transformation. From breaking data out of silos to fostering strong communications among teams to speeding innovation. Rachel Wright, author of “Strategy for Jira” offered strategies for improving team performance using Jira and automation. Chris Kissel, research VP, security products, at IDC, described how to establish your understanding of cybersecurity posture and move beyond its core. “Every time we develop a digital transaction, we develop a new adversary,” he said. As Marcio Silveira, CEO, e-Core said in opening the day, “It is about gaining insights from leaders across the tech landscape. We offered ideas, new perspectives, for your company and your employees to support your digital transformation journey. We offered content, practical advice, so you can better prioritize your digital transformation efforts.”

Silveira also noted you do not have to go it alone. His company offers people, process and technology to assist your company in its digital transformation. His take on digital transformation comes from working with 270 customers across the globe, leading a team of more than 670 e-Core employees that, “go above and beyond every day.” Silveira said, “Leaders face many challenges. Living with technologies of the past. Working with challenges of the present.”

In addition to the high-perspective quoted in this blog post, there was practical advice about Cloud Migration, ITSM, cyber security, customer and employee communication tools and more.

Round table discussions with experts in their respective fields included:

  • Enabling Innovative, Safe and Agile Use of Cloud Computing for Business,
  • How to Weather the Cloud Skills Shortage, and
  • IT Leaders in Cloud Getting Coffee.

Tech sessions included:

  • e-Core Cloud App Modernization: Product Demo
  • ITSM Maturity Level: How to assess it and move forward
  • Case Study: Atlassian Cloud Migration – Acuity Knowledge Partners
    • Empower, Innovate, Transform: A Successful Jira Cloud Migration
  • Enabling Innovative, Safe and Agile Use of Cloud Computing
  • Be More than Just Fine: Why to adopt e-Core Atlassian Prime Services
  • AWS Well-Architected: Learn, measure and build using best practices
  • Google Cloud: GCP — Application development specialization, best practices
  • e-Core Squads: Product Demo

More content from Connections ’22 will be made available, including video highlight reels edited from the presentations, quick-read summations, and full presentations. You can also listen to our e-Core Connections ‘22 podcast, where  Guptill moderates conversations about digital transformation, modernizing IT through the cloud, aligning IT initiatives with business goals, and the rules of the cloud game. Stay tuned!

About e-Core:

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We combine our global experience in diverse industries with leading-edge technologies to help our clients transform and accelerate their business models, develop innovative digital solutions, scale technological capabilities, and sustain their growth.

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Topics: Agile, Atlassian, Cybersecurity, IT Solutions, Remote Work

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