The thinking that an enterprise is defined purely by its economic impact is giving way to a more holistic and longer-term view of value creation. This is especially true as the world navigates the impact of a pandemic. Digital Transformation (DX) has become even more relevant, as a means to manage the need for social distance, as we interact, collaborate and deliver commercial outcomes for customers.
DX is a means to evolve your enterprise and make it more resilient, relevant and resonant with all your stakeholders. But be warned DX is a paradigm shift – where experience and a willingness to experiment matter in equal measure – and where mindset, coupled with new technologies meet new business models.
In short Digital Transformation is about applying a new model to creating inclusive business outcomes. Central to achieving digital business outcomes is the concept of a digital platform – something that is far more than a stack of technology reflected in a reference architecture. Platform Thinking encompasses a business model for solving a business problem by leveraging the creative talents of an ecosystem of partners, to collaborate with your people and organisation.
Platforms enable simple tasks to be performed and process efficiencies to be gained at one end of the spectrum, and at the other end to create entirely new ways of delivering value, by leveraging digital assets such as information, sensors and Artificial Intelligence.
For asset intensive enterprises, evolving into a platform-based business model is the new imperative to insure continued relevance and value to stakeholders.
It is a process and it is dynamic and continuous – hence the infinity loop. And it is reflected in agile processes and lean thinking approaches;
It starts with security and data management: They have to be baked into everything. They are the fundamental building blocks of digitisation that wrap around the following;
Systems & applications production: Which is a combination of methods, frameworks, processes, tool sets and practices, kind of like a mechanical workshop or production line
Next is infrastructure: That spans cloud, mobile devices, connectivity like 5G, and the underlying information management infrastructure, to capture and handle data at source and in the cloud in proper orderly, scalable way
And lastly, Culture.
Achieving transformation starts by connecting your core requirements with the outcome you are looking for. Achieving that outcome then requires the application of an iterative process that’s attuned to your ambition. Recognising this, having a pragmatic framework that enables, and most importantly, helps align stakeholders is key to achieving a fit-for-purpose outcome.
Since the process of becoming a digital enterprise is a continuous one, the next step is to start the process over.
When we talk about “platforms” in technology circles it tends to centre around a technology stack that typically sits in the cloud. However, the rise of platform businesses such as Uber, AirBnB, and Xero along with other such as C3 IoT and GE Predix, have redefined what a platform represents for both consumers and suppliers of that platform business. Each party on a platform forms part of an ecosystem that leverages that platform to achieve some form of digital business outcome. Platforms enable value creation via digital means. Platform thinking, therefore, is a mindset, built around a business model that leverages digital capabilities that the platform delivers.
In asset intensive enterprises, taking a platform approach enables you to view two different sides of your business as one. This, in turn, creates opportunities for new forms of value. For example, smart metering intersects both the consumption (or retail) side, as well as the supply (or generation) side of the whole business. Being able to view the entire business as a platform – versus a set of disparate systems – means you can unlock innovative ways to provide value to all stakeholders and build a more transparent, resilient and accountable enterprise over time.
Applying a platform approach to building your business means that you can take comparatively short-term enablement projects and add longer-term value as they will contribute to the building of intelligent system or digital business platform, that will enable innovation.
Platforms and ecosystems go hand-in-glove. One enables the other symbiotically. To deliver business outcomes on the platform, for you as a customer, there are a range of services, expertise, capability, and industry-specific knowledge that you want to work with – in partnerships. This type of collaboration needs to be managed and orchestrated in a seamless transparent way that delivers digitally relevant value or “what it says on the tin”.
Wrapped around the platform, and as part of the experience the platform delivers, is the Accelerate ecosystem program. This is designed to support you as a DX adaptive leader – with executive-level education, the latest innovative thinking and a community of professionals to support you in delivering better digital business outcomes. And subsequently – depending on the project or initiative – digital relevant value across the spectrum from enablement, systems improvement, to people and process improvement, to business intelligence, through to more effective innovation.
Depending on the category of your needs, there are three pathways to solving your business problems. Understanding the rationale or destination type is key to choosing a pathway that will generate a fit-for-purpose outcome.
For instance, if you are wanting to implement some piece of technology then in all likelihood commissioning a digital enablement services provider will yield the right result, in the right way for your needs. Whereas, if you are wanting to improve your enterprise's deployment and use of business intelligence, then a solutioning and intelligent systems provider is likely to yield the best result.
Similarly, effecting innovation requires an interdisciplinary approach which leverages a combination of management consulting methods, design thinking and digital methods to inform the architecting and delivery of a digital initiative.
When deploying a point solution or digital business platform you want to leverage deep industry experience and proven methods to deploy applications with confidence. Our team works with you to help select the best-of-breed toolsets and access the right ecosystem partners to enable your digital initiative.
Address more complex, cross-functional and interdisciplinary requirements to evolve your operational environment into an intelligent system, that embraces industry templates, capabilities and experience. This shortens the ime to deliver, leveraging the power of platform thinking and an ecosystem approach to deliver your digital initiative.
Innovate, optimise and modernise leveraging a range of management consulting, design thinking and digital methods. This holistic approach enables your enterprise to embrace the right set of methods based on the organisation's appetite for innovation. The most cited reason for failure in digital transformation is failure to get stakeholder alignment and cultural inertia. Addressing these challenges at the beginning is key to embracing new business models and strategic DX initiatives.
In industries with "sweat assets" which require substantial capital investment upfront, and also tend to be highly regulated, there is a natural barrier to competition entering the market. This often means that Asset Intensive enterprises are insulated against market change. However, the nature of exponential change and advent of a platform approach means that, eventually, your enterprise will potentially be undercut.
Consider the taxi business in New York, an asset intensive business that saw the cost of taxi medallion – the means by which you could operate a yellow cab on New York streets – rise to over $1million, making it inaccessible to your average operator.
Along came an upstart digital platform provider called Uber. At first, it did not represent a threat, but their unique digital business model has totally transformed the ride-hailing and public transport industry, as well as the labour supply for the taxi industry. Taxi companies have been forced to improve their digital operational model with ride-hailing apps and new forms of payment.
The risk that other asset intensive industries run, is that similar upstart models – that view their business from a completely different perspective and are unencumbered by existing capital investments – turn your industry on its head.
Adopting a platform mindset, that leverages a digital business model, may the key to stemming upstart competitors, as well as the impact of exponential change, and its effect on your long-term viability as an industry.
Get in touch with us if you could like to have a conversation about how platform thinking can help you achieve your digital ambition.