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The Ferrari of Digital Governance

With the staggering sway of adaptive methodologies like DevOps, IT organizations are beginning to reflect on the long-term implications of adopting agile frameworks and whether it is worth integrating them into their governance models. Let’s look at what CIOs should envision prior to undertaking this transformative task.

The Delusive Intent of Bimodal IT

"Hybrid, two-speed, bimodal..." were some of the buzzwords minted by the industry only a short while ago to appease the nerves of big companies which couldn't reinvent themselves and weed out the "old thinking" holding them back. These overhyped terms also conveyed the idea that innovation and explorative frameworks had to be fully compatible with keeping control of the classic IT environment, and that both worlds - with appropriate governance - would coexist without hampering or impacting one another. From the very beginning, it was clear to many experienced IT professionals that the navel-gazing discussions on speed and hybridism were only tactical and failed to shed light on the strategic questions IT shops must face before embarking on a digital transformation:

  • Why and how should IT architect the business?
  • What changes will the new digital paradigms bring into play?
  • What will be the most visible and the most important "hidden" forces between IT and the business?
  • Will we be able to interpret these forces correctly? If not, how could we expel the wrong assumptions at minimum cost?
  • Can IT mature enough to leverage digital capabilities for a durable and sustainable digitalization?

These and many other strategic questions, generated separately by each organization, create the basic ingredients for successful digital transformations: context awareness. Unfortunately, no mantra -not even sponsored by top management - can provide sound responses until companies institutionalize a rational, balanced and seamless digital governance model (please note that seamless in this particular context means much more than hybrid, bimodal.. and definitely much more than two-speed!)

The Axes of Digital Governance

Functionally speaking, digital governance covers at least six axes that reveal the extent of maturity on the adoption, integration and consolidation of digital services. It bears the equation of classic environments on one side, and the increasing importance of the digital ecosystem made up of integrators and partners on the other. The typical axes are:

  1. Strategy: to keep the digital strategy aligned with business objectives
  2. Analytics: to define the efficient allocation of resources for big data projects, IoT and other analytics requirements
  3. Services integration: to establish correlations between multiple digital sources and communication of insights, as well as ensure that the presentation and the delivery of digital services is kept consistent throughout the organization
  4. Data: to industrialize the processes that turn data into business insights (don't confuse it with analytics governance)
  5. Adoption: to define the policies for digital role-based training and change management, including aspects like security, consistency and quality of the digital culture
  6. Optimization: to identify new digital opportunities and test various scenarios both inside and outside the organization (driving continuous improvement fed by the aforementioned digital ecosystem and keeping balance with the legacy environments)

The Future of Digital Governance

Nobody knows for sure which model will be the reference in the near future, but one thing is clear: internal complexity of IT, giving in to the technology hype and navel-gazing within IT are the three biggest obstacles to sustain a customer-centered transformation. Those carrying out the transformation must keep an eye on all the governance domains of every business - digital or not:

  • strategic alignment
  • value delivery
  • risk management
  • resource management
  • performance measurement

It is not easy to achieve a seamless digital governance model, but it is crucial that companies start searching for it. After all, as I stated in a previous post: "Speed without governance is like driving a Ferrari on an ice skating rink". So, let's drive it on firm ground!

Author: Alvaro Martin, Digital Transformation Consultant at Quint Wellington Redwood

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