Every single day, I get a front-row seat to see how enterprise technology is transforming how we do business. And make no mistake, the world is changing more rapidly than ever before. The one thing that every company I work with has in common is everyone is trying to increase the clock speed of their business.
What do I mean by clock speed? Traditionally, clock speed refers to the rate at which a device performs transactions. But through an enterprise lens, clock speed refers to the execution speed (e.g. time to market) and the corresponding rate of change. In support of this, we are finding that clock speed has increased by three, four, or even five times in the last ten years, and change cycles are also being compressed by a similar factor.
So if historically IT would say, “We’re going to take a year to roll out Salesforce,” today that needs to look like three months or perhaps six plus months in more complex environments. The team might also say, “In six months, we need to drive the first change cycle for that application to leverage additional business functionality.” But today that change cycle might look like 45 days. In short, our operating environment has changed. We now need to move at a completely different pace, driven by what is now possible for the business and even more importantly for our competitors. The reality is we now make major changes in six weeks, not six months — which is exactly what I mean by increasing the clock speed of your business.
The technology trends that are forcing change
The promise that software is eating the world is actually now a well-founded reality, and so every organization is becoming a digital organization. Technology is the primary line item on the every business initiative’s critical path. That means the enterprise is only as effective as its IT organization. But there’s a problem; these companies know that often traditional IT operating models aren’t able to meet the demands of this changing clock speed. What’s behind this?
- The first is competitive pressure. Competition is coming from everywhere — not only from traditional competitors but from new entrants seemingly coming out of nowhere. Who knew, 10 years ago, that Amazon, an online bookseller, would one day become the industry heavyweight in cloud infrastructure?
- The second is that there are more tools than ever that organizations can leverage to transform their business. With IoT, SaaS, big data, social, mobile, cloud and APIs, (“big 7 technology drivers”) they have more innovation opportunities, more new product ideas, and more new channels they can leverage.
These technology drivers are forcing a dramatic acceleration in what the business can and should do to remain competitive and relevant. How nimble and responsive should you be?
How organizations are dealing with change management today
I’m extremely fortunate to have conversations with top executives from leading enterprises around the world where I have an opportunity to understand how their organizations are changing. What’s been fascinating to me is that changes in technology are bringing about even more dramatic changes in how organizations think about their people and traditional executive roles.
Today, I am seeing an interesting convergence between the CIO, the COO, and the CEO — and, in fact, am seeing this convergence extend to the chief product officer. This convergence of roles is the natural result of this new operating environment. Enabled by the big 7 technology drivers, technology is now at the center of every key business initiative. Therefore the CIO is essentially playing the role of COO and CPO in addition to their day job. This extends well beyond the typical ebb and flow of the role of the CIO and speaks to a much more fundamental and lasting shift in the CIOs remit.
Another trend I have observed is how much attention executives are investing in microservices, containerization, DevOps, and related strategies. As relevant as these technology strategies may be, what the CIO, COO, and CEO are really trying to understand is how they should think about responding this new pace of change.
I often hear, “Wait a minute, I understand there are new technologies I can leverage but help me make sense of it all! I know I need to be much more nimble, much more agile, and able to achieve higher clock speed but what do I actually need to do?”
A strategic change in mindset
Our answer doesn’t necessarily involve buying software and hoping that will solve all of our problems. We’re not suggesting a big change initiative. What we are suggesting is this: by changing your approach and mindset about how IT projects are delivered and how your extended project teams engage you will create fundamental change in your clock speed. Not simply for this project but for all subsequent initiatives which drive multiplicative effect for the business.
We believe the API is the core building block of the enterprise and that driving an API-led connectivity approach will result in faster delivery and increased reuse. But even more importantly, it will result in an enterprise that is composable. A business that can leverage these composable APIs to dynamically compose and re-compose these reusable assets to drive innovation, new market opportunities and respond to competitive threat.
The answer is really about changing the way we think – how do we drive agility across the enterprise (not simply in IT) and create an environment that supports change as a constant for the organization. This shift in thinking and the corresponding operating model can only be driven by leaders who have the visibility organization-wide and market-wide to understand the forces of change fully. These are often the leaders in the enterprise who also have the mandate to create change. They have the resources, the budget, and are the players who have the power and the influence to change the way the business thinks and operates.
For more about how visionary leaders are changing the role of IT in the enterprise, take a look at our whitepaper Leading the Emerging Composable Enterprise.