Author and professor Venkat Venkatraman recently spoke to the SIM Boston chapter about how IT leaders within established companies can recognize and respond to digital shifts.

The observations and advice that Venkatraman offers in his book The Digital Matrix: New Rules for Business Transformation Through Technology are practical and prophetic at the same time. He covers many valuable concepts including the digitization of business models (products, services, and processes), the future of digital (based on the trajectory of bandwidth, connectivity, and computational power), and how to create and capture value (through scale, scope, and speed).

 Digital Business Transformation is the Defining Leadership Challenge of this Generation

TWEETTweet: “Digital business transformation is the defining leadership challenge of this generation” @NVenkatraman #abraic #digitaltransformation

Why Companies Fail

One idea struck me as particularly poignant: companies fail because they over-invest in what they do today. We all need to come to the realization that in the digital age, people will not need the products and services we provide today.

invest in what you should be good at tomorrow

Operating under this assumption, how can an industry incumbent successfully change course to maintain relevance in the future, and avoid having a “Kodak moment”?

A Game Plan for Success

An understanding of the progression of the digital transformation journey can help. According to Venkatraman, there are 3 phases:

  1. Innovate: Experimentation at the Edge
  2. Disrupt: Collision at the Core
  3. Transform: Reinvention at the Root

While many IT leaders are struggling with how to drive digital transformation within their organization, such a roadmap can help set expectations and align stakeholders.

Venkatraman also poses some key questions to help business and IT leaders jumpstart the journey:

What ‘experiments at the edge’ are you doing now?

How are you using digital technologies to solve customer problems at scale and speed?

What business and customer problems could you solve with digital technologies?

Then What?

We come across many organizations that are either too comfortable with the status quo, or too conservative in their experimentations to qualify as adequately prepared for the inevitable changes coming their way. Venkatraman’s vision for the future of business as fundamentally digital is inspiring and exciting, but it takes a team of strategic practitioners with a long-term transformation plan to ensure a well-established organization survives and thrives in this new reality.

Operationally, this means experimenting and failing fast; enabling interactions directly between IT, partners, and customers; redesigning internal business processes; and strengthening IT/Business alignment.

TWEETTweet: “Many ‘Experiments at the Edge’ appear crazy & irrelevant; suddenly they become significant” @NVenkatraman #abraic #digitaltransformation

All images courtesy of Venkat Venkatraman