Digital Transformation is the ultimate goal of cloud computing and related initiatives. The phrase is certainly not a precise one, and as subject to hand-waving and distortion as any high-falutin' terminology in the world of information technology.
Yet it is an excellent choice of words to describe what enterprise IT—and by extension, organizations in general—should be working to achieve.
Digital Transformation means:
handling all the data types being found and created in the organization
understanding that through mobility, data is being generated and analyzed on the edges of the enterprise more than at the center
mixing and matching that data in an ecosystem of specific, loosely connected applications and services
automating processes; analyzing and acting upon data in short timeframes to develop, improve, and enhance products and services directly through IT
having enough well-trained people at all levels of the organization to address the inevitable technology glitches while also maintaining a high-level strategic view of what's going on.
I recently attended the Cloud Foundry Summit 2015 in Santa Clara, CA, and listened to many stories of Digital Transformation. The catalyst in these cases was, naturally, Cloud Foundry, an open-source PaaS that is used to handle the complex infrastructure that underlies cloud-computing development, provisioning, and operations.
I was struck by the impatience of much of this discussion; many presenters spoke of the old ways of doing things versus the new, slick, automated, loosely coupled, transformative way and how great progress was being made and would continue to be made this year. One could get the idea that Digital Transformation is a product or service itself, and one that needs to be installed right now.
This type of thinking is only natural in a modern business environment that does not reward patience. Things must be accomplished in a few months, rather than years. In an era where servers can be ordered up and deployed “within seconds,” according to many glowing reports, the idea of a true long-term strategy gets lost in the excitement.
But Digital Transformation is something that should be thought of in terms of years, and decades. We must retain the ability to look back over a period of 20 years and longer, to see what's truly been fundamentally accomplished. My twitter handle of “IoT2040” reflects my viewpoint, as I'm researching, covering, and instigating progress over the next 25 years, whether I'm around to see the end-state of this progress or not.
Taking the long view does not mean throwing a bunch of exotic visions and soothing words in the air. It means setting measurable goals and focusing day-to-day efforts to turn those goals into self-fulfilling prophesies.
I'm inspired by Moore's Law, which is not an absolute, but rather something that people have assumed is an absolute and therefore worked their tails off for decades to adhere to it. A similar commitment to measurable Digital Transformation would seem to be in order.
I can dovetail this thought into our ongoing research at the Tau Institute, which measures dynamics of IT environments in the nations of the world; and in my role as Conference Chair of Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo, which continues to offer a mix of proven use cases and envelope-pushing vision.
In the first role, we can argue that a lack of commitment to IT in Greece is a reflection (or perhaps precipitator) of the country's perilous economic state, whereas an overheated technology environment has caused (and is causing) societal disruption in several countries throughout the world.
In the second role, I'm pleased to point to some slight yet significant tweaks to the eight core tracks being offered at the next Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo, to be held November 3-5 in Santa Clara. Cloud APIs have their own unique track this time, Containers and Microservices have their own track, and our three IoT-focused tracks have been focused more tightly on the latest developments.
Here's a list of the specific tracks:
Track 1 – Enterprise Cloud Adoption
Track 2 – Mobility | Enterprise Security
Track 3 – Containers & Microservices | PaaS
Track 4 – Cloud APIs
Track 5 – IoT | Big Data & Analytics
Track 6 - IoT | Consumer/Wearables
Track 7 - IoT | Enterprise/Industrial Internet
Track 8 – WebRTC Summit | Hot Topics
We'll also be holding another DevOps Summit at the same time, with tracks devoted respectively to Development and Operations.