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A Doctrine for #DigitalTransformation | @ThingsExpo #IoT #M2M #BigData

What came first e-commerce or the Internet? What came first mobile banking, or wireless mobile communications?

In my 30-years in the high tech industry I have often heard the business maxim, "Develop a business strategy first, and then find the technology to support it." This well-worn business doctrine, I have come to believe in this age of digital transformation, is wrong and it is time to repudiate it.

Let me support my argument by first asking a few questions.  What came first e-commerce or the Internet?  What came first mobile banking, or wireless mobile communications?  What came first the commercial airline industry or the airplane?  What came first armored knights being used as shock troops, or stirrups?  Stirrups of course!  Technology innovations have a long history of appearing first, and then doctrines evolving slowly later.  What we are learning today, however, is if your outdated doctrines are dictating the timeframe of your technology adoptions - you are in big trouble! The world is moving much too fast and organizations must now align the evolution of their doctrines with the pace of technology innovations and customer adoptions.

Strategy is the art of making use of time and space. I am less concerned about the latter than the former. Space we can recover, lost time never." -- Napoleon Bonaparte

Today digital transformations defined as, "Changes across an organization associated with the application of digital technologies," are happening all around us as a result of technology innovations and fast changing consumer behaviors.  These digital transformations, welcomed or not, force new and updated business doctrines if companies are to successfully compete.

Before we move on, let's define doctrine as, "Fundamental principles by which an organization guides their actions to accomplish their mission."  It is a conceptual framework of knowledge and thought relevant to the environment and times.  It provides a common vocabulary for use across organizations.  It reflects an aggregated understanding of six key areas:

  1. Who am I?
  2. What are my objectives or missions?
  3. What are my strengths and weaknesses?
  4. What is the nature of my competition?
  5. How do I prepare to compete?
  6. What methods do I employ to compete and win?

I propose organizations today need a "digital transformation" doctrine, a DTD (digital transformation doctrine).  Without a DTD, organizations will lack a unified understanding of why they are transforming, and the role transformation plays in helping them compete successfully to achieve their overall objectives.

Doctrine represents and codifies best practice, based on enduring principles, examples from history and validated lessons from experience and operations. An approved set of principles and methods, intended to provide organisations with a common outlook and a uniform basis for action. ~ Professor Richard Holmes, Army Doctrine Primer

As we all know digital technologies do not just enhance and extend existing processes and models, but they open doors to all kinds of new innovations, competitors, businesses processes, strategies and even new industries.  An organization's DTD must be capable of leading them successfully through these massive and accelerating changes.  An organization's DTD should influence all of their strategies, how they operate and the tactics they employee to compete.  In our research, we find most companies experiencing digital transformation, but few have a recognized doctrine to lead them on this digital transformation journey.

An example of a DTD is, "Bring information dominance to your competitive marketplaces by employing superior data collection and information logistics systems, which provide full situational awareness, support data-driven decision-making, automated algorithms and enable the delivery of real-time contextually relevant and personalized digital user experiences."

More on Digital Transformation Strategies:

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More Stories By Kevin Benedict

Kevin Benedict is an opinionated Senior Analyst at Cognizant's Center for the Future of Work, SAP Mentor Alumnus, speaker, writer, and mobile and digital strategies expert. He is a popular keynote speaker, and in the past three years he has shared his insights into mobile and digital strategies with companies in 17 different countries. He has over 30 years of experience working with enterprise applications, and he is a veteran mobile industry executive. He wrote the Forward to SAP Press' bestselling book on enterprise mobility titled Mobilizing Your Enterprise with SAP, and he has written over 3,000 articles.