The digital transformation or digital transition is today the subject “must have” of any corporate strategy. If it is absent, the credibility of the growth prospects will be mechanically reduced, when it is present what meaning the company must give it? The answer to this natural question is far from obvious.
If it is up to each company to create a vision of its own, linked to its business and its markets, we can still draw inspiration from the approach of Nicholas Negroponte in “Being Digital“: the true function of the systems of information is to create and manage digital doubles, bits, of real world objects, atoms. It is obvious that, having reached a sufficiently important generalization, the digital world will have a decisive influence on the real world.
We are almost there. Amazon’s 1-click purchase stems from this paradigm, such as chatbots, which can be seen as avatars of the company’s customer advisers, or the logistics machines that manage the production of orders, and deposit the expected package in the truck driven today by the good delivery man. Man is already under the control of machines, which are often better beyond him in the tasks of analysis and decision-making, thanks to artificial intelligence.
Avatars are ubiquitous, available, always ready to play their role, otherwise it would never be the digital world. And, it is, thanks to the convergence of mobility technologies: mobile telephony, tablets, laptops, wireless networks, cloud computing. But not only … It is also, thanks to distributed computing which, based on these infrastructures, makes it possible that an avatar present in only one place, would be present everywhere. The avatar dialogues with other actors through APIs.
Ubiquity, this property of being unique and everywhere, requires that the avatar has no defect, because like a model of clones, it duplicates identically. It can not be changed, as one would change human adviser, if the current does not pass. The slightest imperfection will be endured by all customers, if it is, for example, an avatar of a call center operator.
This transformation can not be achieved without adopting an agile approach because we can not reasonably conduct all operations at the same time, and yet we must accomplish them just in time. This is what the SAFE or Less frameworks allow. Agile corporate initiatives help to match business issues and technological developments over time.
If everything seems conducive to success, the foundations of the vision, the technologies, the processes of transformation, how then could be explained such a slowness in the execution of the transformation? Only by an inappropriate skill level. These are not individual skills, degree levels, but business skills.
The delegation of IT development activities to emerging countries has also emptied world companies of technical design know-how. These contracts with their sub-contractors off-shore on the basis of detailed specifications, are indeed far from agile approaches. They are unable to conduct a distributed technical design, whereas it is a proven practice in the industry thanks to the virtual design trays. The smallest technical computer operation mobilizes a prohibitive number of people and takes a very long time to complete, without pointing out all constraints related to the rejection of cloud computing.
Business competence and tooling are two critical success factors to be activated, for example by creating a transformation office that organizes business skills, distributed design modalities, trains and coaches actors, and diffuses methodological tools and software to support their activities. This is a first investment, all in all, modest for a significant expectation of gain.