As companies look to rapidly scale their digital efforts, they recognise the need for a digital service platform to enable broad-based transformation using information and core services. They also know they must restructure for new digital realities — changing their culture, empowering their employees and developing high-performing teams who use all of the advanced tools available to them.
The leaders will be organisations that re-architect themselves into 21st century enterprises with substantially different products and services, operating models and organising strategies.
A new paper series, DXC Digital Directions, examines this next phase of digital transformation. In the first of a series of conversations with DXC Technology’s chief technology officers who authored the papers, THRIVE caught up with CTO Dan Hushon to talk about how organisations are plying these digital platforms, emerging technologies and new strategies to flourish in the digital economy.
Q: What does a modern digital business platform look like?
A: Modern digital platforms are intelligent, distributed and autonomous and connect to many of the players in the information ecosystem. The platforms are composed of software layers that gather and synthesise large volumes of data to make digital services accessible on different devices with superior user experience. They provide economies of scale and scope of data, within and sometimes across organisations. They simplify the complex interactions of new and legacy systems, and allow them to evolve — enabling high levels of innovation at a low total cost of ownership. They make it easier to define and enforce rules about the way work gets done, and they help coordinate activities.
Q: What are some of the new technologies that power a digital business platform?
A: The latest generation of digital platforms is architected as increasingly open, modular and granular services, provisioned using the cloud and delivered as platform as a service (PaaS). As these intelligent layers of software and data continue to commoditise advances in big data, analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and automation, and root themselves in agile/DevOps practices, they create low-cost, increasingly automated and smart agile workflows that replace and improve upon human effort.
But remember: The goal of a platform is to provide information services that are composed to deliver business outcomes.
Q: How are you describing information flows in this context?
A: Think of an information flow as an information supply chain. Trace how information flows from the point of origin to the customer, application or smart thing where it delivers value. Along the way it might be combined with other information (from internal or external sources). Is the information flow working? Are customers receiving information in context, at the right time, on the right device? Is your information flow maximising the value of your data? For example, think about how drivers consume and benefit from huge amounts of data as they drive — everything from diagnostics, GPS and telemetry to crowd-sourced traffic apps and full-blown entertainment systems. The data increases exponentially as drivers intersect with other drivers, smart highways and smart cities. Mastery of the information flow determines who has the customer relationship.
Think of an information flow as an information supply chain.
Mastering information flows and information markets creates tremendous opportunities for companies to deliver better service to customers, develop deeper levels of engagement and rethink business models, resulting in improved customer satisfaction, new revenue streams and cost reductions. Internally, companies have the opportunity to empower employees with self-service and more efficient collaboration tools, making them more productive and increasing the rate of knowledge creation and monetisation.
Q: How do digital business platforms transform the enterprise?
A: Modern digital platforms help traditional and platform organisations alike excel simultaneously in customer intimacy, product leadership and operational excellence — the three value disciplines [detailed in Michael Treacy and Fred Wiersema’s 1995 book, The Discipline of Market Leaders]. Once, organisations needed to choose which single discipline to excel in and then settle for being competitive in the other two. Now, digital platforms can reduce the trade-offs between the disciplines, so companies can excel in all three. That’s a powerful way to accelerate digital business.
Learn more in the DXC Digital Directions paper series.