It’s a stretch to compare how organizations go through the human grieving process when trying to digitally transform. However, While working with 200 or so large organizations over the past decade, Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’s classic books are a strong contender. of death and dying; and travel organizations face as they strive for digital transformation.
Kübler-Ross describes the grief process in five stages: denial; being angry Bargaining Depression and acceptance. Those levels are not comfortable with what CEOs and their teams have experienced. We can look at the five stages of digital transformation over time with the aim of learning from the efforts of others.
Denial: Cognitive Computation
During the 2010s, The digitization of manual corporate systems coincided with a time when more than half of Western households owned a personal computer, setting the stage for the next revolution—digital transformation, or DX. The era of “cognitive computing” has arrived.
In 2011, IBM Watson won the title. Danger!The DX inflation curve is steepening. IBM describes Watson as an artificial intelligence powerful enough to diagnose cancer better than any physician. Enterprises like IBM and GE, which launched GE Predix to create a “digital twin” out of nothing, have turned to vendors to bring them into the digital age.
the result? Institutions such as Memorial Sloan Kettering have had high-profile IBM Watson projects fail; IBM ended up selling IBM Watson Health to a private equity firm for pennies. And that’s before Watson’s missteps contributed to the departure of then-CEO Ginni Rometty. About GE Predix: Its well-documented failure coincided with Jeff Immelt’s departure.
Organizations move from a state of denial—to outright anger—in the sense of “this can’t happen to us”—from these embarrassing failures.
Rage: Digital Strategy
Major IT losses require business leaders to take over from the IT side; It prompted the hiring of expensive consultants and ushering in the “digital strategy” era.
This phase leads to the development of a “proof of concept” (POC) rooted in each business unit. Few POCs have succeeded; No one can measure it. When CEOs describe this stage of their journey to me, there is a general lack of focus; little coordination within business units; different technologies; They blame it on stiff “adjustment” meetings and a rough understanding of little business value.
Bargaining: The lake
In the Kübler-Ross model, denial and anger are followed by bargaining. When costly strategy changes fail, data is blamed. “Garbage, The phrase “trash out” is popular. This led to another shining mirage: the “data lake.”
The idea of a data lake is to create a unified, federated image of the entire enterprise, with all data in a single, gathered, to bring it into a unified repository. Such efforts date back to the ill-fated “data warehouse” effort of the 1990s.
I am not aware of any successful effort to create a complete enterprise data lake. For a large organization with hundreds of resources and data types, the problem turns out to be simply intractable. Organizations have spent years and untold millions on these efforts.
This led to sadness and regret reaching the board level. These data ia mistakes have cost many CIOs and even some CEOs their jobs. At this point organizations raised their hopes for salvation to the cloud.
Many companies have stagnated at the “cloud” level. Today’s technology landscape is being disrupted by new cloud technologies and services that aim to transform data and applications within the enterprise by moving them to data centers elsewhere and integrating everything through APIs. Most organizations are experimenting with various cloud technologies and services, but with little value.
Elastic cloud computing is a highly valuable, hyperscale cloud service—Microsoft Azure; Google Cloud and Amazon Web Services—are essential. But cloud computing alone is not driving digital transformation. Many savvy executives champion migrating their IT operations and systems to the cloud, frustratingly; I’ve only seen applications from an ever-changing collection of products and services cobble together.
Adoption: Digital Transformation.
In true digital transformation, organizations are clear about digital transformation—yes. Acceptance—occurs only upon arrival. New programs are better than flashy programs. When resolved, We need to focus on problems that deliver measurable value and can methodically apply this approach across the industry.
to be sure Some organizations are already achieving true digital transformation. Both Shell and the United States Air Force’s Rapid Sustainment Office are prominent examples. Each focuses on solving high-value problems and replicating that success in a systematic way.
Can you summarize the five steps?
Not sure. Most organizations I know go through some form of the five stages. Until the organization goes through these experiences, little progress is made.
If you understand where your business sits in its digital journey; You’ll be in a better position to skip a painful Kübler-Ross-like step or two and accelerate your progress toward true digital transformation.
Thomas M. Siebel is chairman and CEO. C3 AI. Previously, he founded Siebel Systems and served as its CEO and President from 1993 until its acquisition by Oracle in 2006. Digital Transformation: Survive and Survive in the Age of Mass Extinction..
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