Is Digital Transformation a Trap?

It’s planning time for a new fiscal year, and IT organizations are hearing the words “digital transformation” with great frequency. In a new article on TechBeacon, Cindy Olsen, Senior Manager for Brand and UX, suggests that with digital transformation’s not-so-great reputation, perhaps innovation would be a better goal.

Observations from an out-of-state move

For the last ten years I lived in a highly suburban area very close to Chicago. Since I work remotely, our family made the decision to move to a much more rural area (with high-speed internet, of course). And while I anticipated a much more laid-back lifestyle, I didn’t anticipate that the businesses in my community would still be reluctant to adopt things like digital payment systems.

In Chicago, I paid for everything electronically. Here, cash (or cash via check) is king. These small, often family-based businesses seem to be averse to the risks and costs of one of the most basic steps into the digital economy—digital payment systems.

They face the same dilemma

And while these smaller businesses in my new community can’t begin to rival the size or complexity of our clients here at Micro Focus, even they have different appetites for digital transformation. They still see value in the systems that they’ve invested in. But they know—especially with their pandemic experience still fresh—that they have to be prepared to quickly adopt new ways of doing business using new technologies. If they don’t, they risk business failure.

Is digital transformation a trap?

For many organizations, digital transformation appears to be a trap. Its success rates are low by the most generous of measures. The idea of a repeated, endless journey that substitutes one technology for another is intimidating at best, and at worst a money pit of endless investment and risk. But what if there’s a better way? One that preserves existing value while finding new ways to interact with the digital technologies that emerge every day?

Innovation—the better alternative

Innovation is often misunderstood in the technology sector. Companies generally refer to their newest, shiniest technology as innovative. But when you research innovation, you find the meaning is wrapped up in exploiting the historical. It takes what exists, and finds a way to use it in new, original, and ingenious ways. Understanding the past then becomes the key to the future, because you are building upon the known and understood, and crucially, what’s already been paid for. You reduce costs and risks while building the new things that customers, partners, and employees are demanding.

There are some familiar examples in our day-to-day lives, such as cell phone technology. When you look at business, there are also obvious examples where innovation can move technology forward—mainframe and COBOL to the cloud, and using software robots that can automate repetitive human-based tasks. There are still more opportunities that are less well-known in technology, such as value stream management, that have the potential to revolutionize the software development lifecycle. All of these are innovations built on existing and often well-proven technologies that are being used in new ways, and moving the organizations that use them ahead of their competition.

So what’s the verdict?

It’s time to choose. Is transformation a trap? No,  transformation is a necessity. But you must approach it with an innovation mindset. This more organic and incremental approach of building on existing value helps organizations create a springboard to future success. There’s less risk and less cost. And even though incremental innovation may not be flashy, you’ll make the advances you need in the now, while you work to prepare for the next.

At Micro Focus, we work with an innovation mindset every day by building solutions that tackle our customers’ biggest digital dilemma—how to run and transform at the same time. With our broad portfolio of software and services, you can create the products and services your customers demand so your organization excels in a digital world.

Ready to learn more about our innovation mindset? Read the full article, “Avoiding the Transformation Trap” on TechBeacon.

Senior Manager, Brand and UX

Micro Focus

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