The Ferrari of Digital Governance

With the staggering sway of adaptive methodologies like DevOps, big IT organisations start to reflect on the long-term implications of adopting agile frameworks and whether it is worth integrating them into their government models. This post gives a few insights on what CIOs should envision prior to undertaking this prettty unexplored task.

The Delusive Intent of Bimodal IT

"Hybrid, two-speed, bimodal..." were some of the buzzwords minted by the industry not long ago to appease the nerves of big companies which couldn't reinvent themselves and weed out the "old thinking" all of a sudden. These overhyped terms also conveyed the idea that innovation and explorative frameworks had to be fully compatible with keeping control of the classic IT environments and that both worlds -with appropriate governance- would coexist without hampering or impacting each other.

However, from the very beginning, it was pretty clear to many experienced IT professionals that the navel-gazing discussions on speed and hybridism were just tactical and didn't shed any light on the strategic questions IT shops have to face before embarking on a digital transformation:

  • Why and how should IT architect the business?
  • What changes will the new digital paradigms bring into play?
  • What will be the visible and most importantly "hidden" forces between IT and the business?
  • Will we able to interpret these forces correctly? If not, how could we kick out the wrong assumptions at minimum cost?
  • Will IT attain enough maturity to leverage digital capabilities for a durable and sustainable digitalisation?

These and many other strategic questions, internalised separately by each organisation, create the basic ingredient for successful digital transformations: context awareness. Unfortunately no mantra -not even sponsored by top management- can provide sound responses until companies institutionalise a rational, balanced and seamless digital governance model (please note that seamless in this particular context means much more than hybrid, bimodal.. and definitely much more than two-speed!).

The Axes of Digital Governance

Functionally speaking, digital governance covers at least six axes that reveal the extent of maturity on the adoption, integration and consolidation of digital services while bearing in the equation the classic environments on one side, and the increasing importance of the digital ecosystem made up of integrators and partners on the other. The typical axes are:

1.    Strategy: to keep the digital strategy aligned with business objectives

2.   Analytics: to define the efficient allocation of resources for big data projects, IoT and other analytics requirements

3.    Services integration: to establish correlations between multiple digital sources and communication of insight, as well as ensure that the presentation and the delivery of digital services is kept consistent through all the organisation

4.    Data: to industrialise the processes that turn data into business insights (don't confuse it with Analytics governance)

5.  Adoption: to define the policies for digital role-based training and change management, including aspects like security, consistency and quality of the digital culture

6.    Optimization: to identify new digital opportunities and test various optimisation scenarios both inside and outside the organisation (driving continuous improvement fed by the forementioned digital ecosystem and keeping balance with the legacy environments)

The Future of Digital Governance

Nobody knows for sure what model will be the reference in the near future but one thing is clear: internal complexity of ITgiving in to the technology hype and navel-gazing within IT are the three biggest obstacles to sustain a customer-centred transformation which, by the way, must keep an eye on all the governance domains of every business -digital or not:

- strategic alignment

- value delivery

- risk management

- resource management

- performance measurement.

Therefore it's not easy at all to achieve a seamless digital governance model but it is crucial that big companies start searching for it. After all as I said in a previous post: "Speed without governance is like driving a Ferrari on an ice skating rink". So, let's drive it on firm ground!



Alvaro Martín. 

Digital Transformation Senior Consultant at Quint Wellington Redwood