Making the Strategy a Reality: Technology
Finally we arrive at perhaps the most obvious element of a digital transformation approach: the technology itself. Unfortunately enterprises tend to rush to tools, and spend big money on flashy software, thinking that primarily will enable digital transformation. In our experience, we can’t emphasize enough how deliberately we’ve put the above elements in priority order. Start with people, then process, then data - and finally, buy technology and build an ecosystem that suits the revised models.
In modern digital transformation programs, as mentioned above, there tends to be a wide array of technologies employed. These might include:
You might be thinking, “well we already have these tools in place”. 25+ years on from the digital revolution, modernizing and integrating the stack is where the focus should be now - not necessarily implementing the technology in the first place.
Today, your technology strategy should include:
- Moving tools into the cloud, and taking advantage of the cloud’s scalability
- Reducing or eliminating technical debt
- Enhancing technologies using machine learning and artificial intelligence
- Integrating / connecting the tools to drive automation
- Reducing manual work through the use of APIs
In modern digital transformation programs, it’s important to not just think about technology in terms of lists of requirements - rather, consider how the technology and the connection points are addressing a business or customer problem. Also important is to designate what systems are the source of truth or intelligence for various data and content - and to put together a set of “golden rules” for the tech stack to adhere to.
Recognising and then making decisions around the inevitable overlap of functionality across different parts of your digital transformation technology ecosystem is vital during the strategy and discovery stages. If left unaddressed, different groups may become territorial over who and what system owns the sources of truth. As nearly every technology is racing further from its core or legacy functionality, and it requires very careful management when integrating these technologies.
A few golden rules might include:
- The DAM system is the one source of truth for imagery, brand, and media assets
- The PIM system is the single source of truth for product data and enriched product marketing information
- The WCMS will not contain original content, it will only consume content from the systems which are the single sources of truth
- We will not manually download assets from one place and place them in another system - we will use APIs
- Choose configuration over customization, to ensure lower technical debt for upgrade paths
If you’re still implementing your first set of digital transformation tools, in some ways you have an advantage over enterprises who are replacing old systems. You can implement with an approach that’s modern, API-first, and automation-driven from the start, leveraging a component-based architecture. This allows you to swap in and out components with comparative ease, vs. replacing the monolithic architectures that were common in the late 1990s / early 2000s.