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Taming the Digital Dragon – Harnessing the Third Wave of IT to Shift From Products to Platforms

In their 2014 CIO Agenda report Gartner describe how 'Taming the Digital Dragon' is key to Digital Transformation strategies, with the Hybrid Cloud Platform model as the enabling technology blueprint AND business model.

Gartner principally characterizes this heightened capability in terms of competitive threat and advantage:

"All industries in all geographies are being radically reshaped by digital disruption — a “digital dragon” that is potentially very powerful if tamed but a destructive force if not. It’s a CIO’s dream come true, and also a career-changing leadership challenge."

Digital disruptors

They describe it as a dragon because it so effectively destroys the competition in its field, through a massive scale of technology leverage such as Netflix, Airbnb and Uber Taxis, with brands like Kodak or the Blockbuster video rental chain examples of those being destroyed by failing to adapt to this digital disruption.

These 'digital unicorn' startup firms have generated billions in shareholder value in only a few short years specifically through this principle, achieving inventory levels of the world's largest players simply through smart use of IT.

As Gartner conclude:

"CIOs now face the challenge of straddling the second era of enterprise IT and a new, third “digitalization” era — moving from running IT like a business within a business, into a period characterized by deep innovation beyond process optimization, exploitation of a broader universe of digital technology and information, more-integrated business and IT innovation, and a need for much faster and more agile capability."

Harnessing the Third Wave - From Products to Platforms

This corresponds with the view of Mike Rosen of IDC, who describes Platforms as a third generation.

In his OMG presentation Winning the Digital Transformation Game, Mike describes the overlay of Cloud, Mobile, Social and Big Data across the traditional legacy of hardware, software and telco services, constituting the ‘Third Platform’ and beginning around 2006.

He highlights the general explosion of the technology innovation ecosystem, everything from 3D Printers through Augmented Reality to the Blockchain, are each executing major levels of disruptive change, in parallel to one another.

As they intersect and synthesize so even larger virtual market opportunities are opened up, from digital currencies to entirely new app sets for the public sector to new mass market gaming niches.

From CIO to Chief Digital Officer

This time of hyper-innovation will be best exploited by those organizations led by Chief Digital Officers, the evolution of the CTO role to reflect this increased strategic importance, and those who are practiced in building Platform architecture.

The presentation describes:

  • Five organizational pillars of transformation: Leadership, Omnichannel Experience, Information, Operating Model and WorkSource.
  • Three primary action drivers: Create expectation-altering customer experiences, use information for competitive advantage and create new revenue streams through connected services.
  • Digital Marketplace core: A central IT design of a catalog of integrated, brokered, managed IT Business Services.
  • An Enterprise Architecture Maturity Model: That defines an evolution from local agility to enterprise agility.
  • A Performance Architecture: A management dashboard for synthesizing all of these initiatives to drive success and growth.

Mike then summarizes by describing how Business Architecture offers the skill set to define the implementation of these pillars, repeating the central theme that it provides a formal way of linking strategy with execution planning.

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