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Exploring the science and magic of Identity and Access Management
Thursday, December 3, 2020

What in the world is Digital Transformation?

Business, Technology
Author: Mark Dixon
Friday, September 4, 2015
5:11 pm

Digital: “of, relating to, or using data in the form of numerical digits

Transformation: “change in form, appearance, nature, or character.”

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The more I read about and discuss the hot buzzword “Digital Transformation,” the more I think of the old “Blind Men and the Elephant” story.  Each blind man’s perception of reality was different, depending on which part of the elephant’s anatomy he examined. The meaning of Digital Transformation also seems to depend highly on who is thinking about the subject.

First, consider a few examples of how business leaders may think of Digital Transformation:

To the business leader who has the vision of leveraging a company’s vast data resources to open new revenue opportunities through selling access to that data to interested customers, Digital Transformation is all about rapidly delivering that digital asset (data) to customers in new, innovative ways.

To the leader who is primarily interested in customer acquisition and loyalty in a consumer goods market, Digital Transformation may include “store of the future” concepts and providing a omni-channel customer buying experience.

To the health care executive, Digital Transformation may include providing electronic health records for patients that span multiple care providers to provide a more seamless and effective experience for patients and more profitable revenue channels for the many enterprises involved.

I’m sure thou can think of many more business examples.

Now think about what you have heard technology vendors say about Digital Transformation:

“You must leverage the Cloud to enable Digital Transformation.”

“Exposing and consuming APIs are essential are essential to Digital Transformation.”

“Digital Transformation is removing or consolidating information system silos.”

“Digital Transformation is all about enabling multi-channel customer experience.”

“Digital Transformation is all about harnessing Big Data.”

There are lots of body parts to the Digital Transformation elephant. Each of the viewpoints above is somewhat correct, but is lacking in completeness.  Digital Transformation is a big subject.

Perhaps the overall business perspective might be described in these ways:

Digital business models have become essential for companies across a range of industries. … going digital is now a prerequisite for surviving and thriving. (McKinsey)

Competing successfully in the digital industrial economy is rapidly becoming a leading strategic imperative for businesses all around the world. (Gartner)

Digital Transformation involves dramatically changing the enterprise to embrace and leverage digital technology to compete in new, innovative and disruptive ways.

From the technology viewpoint, we must remember that technology must enable business, not just exist for the sheer beauty of new stuff. Many technologies are converging to enable Digital Transformation – Mobile, Social, Cloud, Big Data, Internet of Things, APIs – I have probably missed a few. Any or all of these technologies can be leveraged in a Digital Transformation, depending on what is needed to support the business. No single technology is sufficient.  

We must remember that huge changes must be made in IT to enable dramatic changes in business. Gartner’s Peter Sondergaard recommends:

Digital startups sit inside your organization, in your marketing department, in HR, in logistics and in sales. As IT leaders, you must design, resource and deploy for a world that’s digital first. In this new model, every business unit is a technology startup. Now is your opportunity to create that team. Partner with the digital startups inside your organization and prove that you can move fast too. Embrace the outside change. 

Taking both business views and IT views into consideration, I rather like this definition of Digital Transformation from the Agile Elephant, a UK based consultancy:

Digital transformation is the process of shifting your organisation from a legacy approach to new ways of working and thinking using digital, social, mobile and emerging technologies.  It involves a change in leadership, different thinking, the encouragement of innovation and new business models, incorporating digitisation of assets and an increased use of technology to improve the experience of your organisation’s employees, customers, suppliers, partners and stakeholders.

This made me remember a statement made by Tom Peters in his book, Thriving on Chaos, which I first read in 1989:

Excellent firms don’t believe in excellence – only in constant improvement and constant change. That is, excellent firms of tomorrow will cherish impermanence and thrive on chaos!

A word of warning, however. Several years ago, when “Business Process Re-engineering” was a popular buzzword, a friend of mine was really excited when he was first assigned to a re-engineering team in his company.  He was not so happy a while later when he hold me his position in the company was re-engineered. He had been laid off!

We must be agile ourselves to survive and thrive!

 

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Busticate the Behemoths in Your Life

Leadership
Author: Mark Dixon
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
4:40 am

Busticate: to break into pieces

Behemoth: any creature or thing of monstrous size or power

Image14While I was in heads-down study mode for the CISSP exam last month, on two successive days, the Dictionary.com Word of the Day service sent out the words “Busticate” and “Behemoth” to my mobile phone.

I chuckled a  bit and tried to apply that advice to the exam: Break the broad spectrum of Information Security subject matter into manageable chunks and focus on each chunk in turn.  It seemed to help.  When I receive the results from my test (yes, I am anxious), I’ll have to attribute partial credit to Dictionary.com!

When confronted by seemingly insurmountable obstacles in our lives, we can benefit from this approach: Let’s break out our figurative big hammers and Busticate the Behemoths into manageable chunks that we can successfully manage.

At least for awhile, I think I’ll let this new addage replace the advice of “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time, chew well.”

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links for 2007-09-08

root
Author: Mark Dixon
Saturday, September 8, 2007
1:21 am
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Identity Risks – Large Initial Scope

Identity
Author: Mark Dixon
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
7:18 pm

“How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time, chew well.”

Those who Implement Identity Management systems would do well to learn from that old, trite saying. Because Identity Management promises such broad benefits, we may be tempted to capture all those benefits in one large mouthful. In practice, great big bites are much more difficult to swallow than judiciously small nibbles.

Large Initial Scope can:

  • Exponentially complicate system testing. Multiply 10 resource adaptors times 10 user roles times 10 workflows and we have a huge testing problem. Start with a couple of managed resources, a few roles and a few workflows. It is much easier to build the foundation and layer on functionality when the first small steps are well-proven.
  • Require too much business process change. Identity Mangement systems can have broad impact on users and business processes. Trying to change too much all at once may not challenge the technology, but can wreak havoc on your organization.
  • Delay perceived system value. Business managers want (and deserve) quick payback on investment. Building too much into the first phase of your Identity Management project can delay that benefit.
  • Undermine stakeholder confidence. Successful Identity Management projects need consistent, strong sponsorship. If things stretch out too long, it is easy to undermine the confidence of the stakeholders who are so vital to the success of a project.

So, what is the recommended approach? Simple – eat one small bite at at time, and keep eating:

  • Choose “Quick Wins.” A Quick Win is a subset of the overall enterprise solution which delivers high business value in a short timeframe. This allows a vital part of the Identity Management strategy to be delivered quickly, demonstrating that the approach is sound and establishing a foundation for further enhancement.
  • Implement in phases. By segmenting the overall solution into manageable parts, you can deliver value quickly and steadily, thus sustaining executive sponsor support and progressively implementing additional Identity functionality.
  • Tightly manage scope. Avoid the insidious scope creep demon like the plague. A few simple additions here and there can quickly add up to a schedule- and budget-killing monster.

I’ve experienced both the quickly-earned joy of well-planned “Quick Wins” and the drawn out agony of “eat the whole beast” projects. The former lays a foundation for further success; the latter spoils everyone’s appetite for more.

May all your Identity feasts be joyful!

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My One Identity Prediction

Identity
Author: Mark Dixon
Tuesday, January 3, 2006
10:19 am

People who think more deeply than I have made many predictions about Identity Management in the coming year. I offer but one prediction.

I believe that 2006 will bring new methods for more easily implementing Identity Management solutions. Why?

  1. Customers demand it.
  2. Vendors need it
  3. Both are giving it attention.

Identity Management solutions are inherently complex, primarily because they touch so many people and systems. However, best practices for Identity Management solutions beg for enterprises to bite off Identity solutions in small chunks, rather than trying to eat the proverbial elephant in one big gulp. Concentrating on small, standardized solutions will help simplify and streamline deployment. As both vendors and customers focus on that reality, new methods for implementation will emerge.

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