From deliverables to outcomes, rethinking digital transformation Ilya Lukichev

To make digital transformation more than just another buzzword, industry must focus on delivering results rather than technology.

Much like “unprecedented” or “thought leadership,” digital transformation is one of those industry buzzwords that has become so overused, it’s begun to lose all meaning. But what if that didn’t have to be the case?

Rather than acting as a proxy for cloud migration or replacing legacy processes with new software-as-a-service technologies, digital transformation should address the entire technology ecosystem and organizational value chain.

Whether it’s from infrastructure to the edge, through the cloud and across networks, or from mainframes to mobile, truly transformative business solutions must improve readiness, provide resiliency, and drive measurable results in a streamlined, concurrent fashion.

This creates new efficiencies and delivers a better overall experience in which multiple aspects of the business are elevated at the same time. The secret to achieving this end-goal is to structure new technology capabilities around an outcome-based model.

Traditional consulting focuses on hours billed, not outcomes achieved

There are several roadblocks that all public and commercial leaders face when revamping their operations to meet new demands. This can range from how to balance long-term needs against everyday operational challenges to labor pressures amid a competitive hiring environment. And that’s not to mention the logistical complications of retiring entrenched legacy systems and funding the often nebulous cost of technology acquisition and maintenance.

In a traditional consulting model, organizations will often structure statements of work around the total number of billable hours allotted to a given project. But to scale their operations, add new capabilities, and fine-tune deliverables, an hourly model requires them to add more consultants and increase their overall budget. Not only does this make costs unpredictable, it doesn’t necessarily solve the problem.

Instead, solutions providers can create a new business model in which risks are shared, costs are constrained, and clients are liberated from vendor lock and never-ending project timelines. The key to achieving this state is focusing on desired outcomes rather than contractually obligated deliverables.

Components of an outcome-based model

So, what does outcome-based digital transformation look like? It starts with the cloud, then expands from there with infinite possibilities. Public, private, multi, hybrid, and classified cloud configurations can all be leveraged in different environments to drive results. The key here is restructuring the way you approach procurement so that it’s based on success rather than granular technology details.

For example, if your overall goal is improving customer satisfaction with a core solution or product, look for ways to increase system uptime rather than enabling a multizone architecture. This approach requires organizations to have a deep understanding of their environmental constraints and the challenges they’re seeking to solve.

Of course, these challenges vary, including access, speed, scale, and security. Cloud technologies are critical in enabling the use of data across sources while quickly and securely delivering that information to the point and time of need. They can also help enterprises adapt to changing requirements and protect sensitive data, systems, and users without compromise.

However, cloud platforms are only building blocks. If your answer to digital transformation is simply to migrate existing assets to the cloud, then you’re unlikely to see improvements in productivity, decision-making, or results. Instead, cloud migration should be focused on extending infrastructure while also providing high availability, scalability, and security—and above all, resiliency. Elevating multiple components at once is key to driving transformative results.

Automation is another key aspect of outcome-based digital transformation that goes hand in hand with cloud technology. By embedding automation into as many business processes as possible, organizations can offset the burden caused by tedious, repetitive tasks. This enables teams to focus their attention on transformative work that moves the needle and drives greater value for the organization as a whole.

Outcomes drive strategy, not technology

Ultimately, technology shouldn’t drive organization strategy. Instead, it should support business objectives and processes, while outcomes act as the true driver behind your strategy. That’s why we recommend examining every layer of the value chain to find areas where impedance can be removed, speed and quality can be improved, and resiliency can be increased.

By moving away from traditional consulting models that are based on hours billed or deliverables contracted, organizations can work towards transformation governed by predictable spend and measurable outcomes. In doing so, companies can gain more from their technology investments at every turn, with procurement options that match their priorities.

Rob Groat is executive vice president of strategy and technology at SMX.

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