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Understanding digital transformation

Organizations have always had to evolve with changes in technology. But these days, change is happening faster―largely due to the scalable nature of “digital,” or how you use new capabilities to improve how you serve your customers. The exponential rate of change requires constant, iterative innovation. That’s digital transformation.

What is digital transformation?

Digital transformation is a way to describe the evolution of organizations―and entire industries―due to rapid advancements in digital technology.

The phrase “digital transformation” can mean different things. Sometimes, it’s about what’s happening in the world. The past decade has seen disruptive shifts in markets and business models, and in cultural expectations. Organizations are under tremendous pressure to keep up, let alone be digital leaders. That’s the other meaning of digital transformation: how an organization might change to better serve their customers and create value in more innovative ways.

Digital transformation is about integrating new technology and new applications into your existing infrastructure, fundamentally changing how it operates. But transformation doesn’t happen with technology alone. It requires adjustments in the processes and, ultimately, the culture of an organization. Because it doesn’t matter how functional and efficient your applications and infrastructure are if old bottlenecks still slow you down.

What is not digital transformation?

Digital transformation is not just about getting to the cloud and automating processes. It’s not a product or solution to be purchased, It affects everything IT touches in every industry. It’s about changing both your technologies and business. And it’s never over.

To some extent it’s all about culture, but that’s not where you start. Culture is an output of leadership, processes, and systems. Change the leaders, and leader’s roles, change the processes and systems. Spend at least as much time thinking about how you unleash your people’s potential to act in the moment, to apply judgement and creativity, because the winners in the 21st century are those who can pivot and react to change.

Jim Whitehurst, previously President and Chief Executive Officer, Red Hat

It’s actually about digital leadership

The word “transformation” implies that there’s an end―something becomes a different thing. But new technologies and capabilities will always emerge and evolve. Because of that, we prefer to think of these ongoing efforts as digital leadership.

Digital leadership is about turning a company’s core competency into technology. The lines that used to exist between IT and business strategy are now blurred. Digital leaders are putting aside departmental separation to collaborate toward unified goals. Business leaders need to be more technologically savvy to know what’s possible. And IT leaders need to align with their organizations’ business strategies.

Digital leaders are deliberate in their adoption of technology. They constantly talk about it and build it into the culture. They ask, “What aspects of our business can we solve with technology? Can we integrate new solutions with our current IT? Does our team have the right skills?”

Goals of a digital leader

  • Create tangible business value.
  • Elevate the role and relevance of IT within the organization.
  • Help bridge the skills gap.
  • Get teams to work better together.
  • Free up resources for higher-value tasks.
  • Reduce risk.
  • Provide greater IT reliability, scalability, and security.

Perhaps most importantly, digital leaders are open to experimentation―to trying something inherently new. The key is to convince people that what they were doing wasn’t wrong; it’s just that the world is different. The tools are changing. The opportunities are broader.

Success today requires a new outlook, some blind steps, and hopefully ... failure. Because failure means you took a risk and learned what not to do next time. Most people aren’t comfortable exposing mistakes. But innovative leaders celebrate their own failures as crucial learning opportunities. Learning from failure has to become an ingrained part of the culture.

Big changes start with small, iterative steps.

The digital transformation journey

The “how” of digital transformation

Because everyone starts from a different place, there’s no digital transformation framework, playbook, or roadmap that’s universally applicable. You might need to rethink your organization’s existing software, development methodologies, business processes, and personnel responsibilities—or you may already be in a good architectural position and just need to add new functions.

Embracing digital transformation is a long-term strategy, not a short-term tactic. It must involve lasting cultural and technological change to bring enduring organizational and business success. That change doesn’t have to be revolutionary or disruptive. Incremental progress is still progress. The goal should be to get comfortable with change before the market demands it. Because the market will demand it.

The “why” of digital transformation

Our world is digital, and we expect technology to work for us seamlessly. Organizations have to invest in technology that serves employees and consumers alike in ways we expect. Clouds, mobile apps, and Stuff-as-a-Service require new types of storage, analytics, automation, and management. One innovation leads to another. New technology leads to process improvements, which lead to better products and services. Then people demand even more improvements because they’ve grown accustomed to certain experiences in their daily lives.

Why should I work with Red Hat?

Open source values like meritocracy, community building, and transparency are changing the way the world approaches business and life. We believe openness is the default 21st-century innovation model. It’s the Red Hat way.

Red Hat offers tooling, principles, and standards that deliver a foundation for flexibility and innovation. Together, we help your company enable the transformation of culture, rapid development, and scalable collaboration.

Red Hat can help transform your business with our open framework and broad solution portfolio. We can help you speed innovation by uniting people, process, and technology.

Open culture, open process, open technology

You can digitally transform with proprietary or open source, but using open source will reduce your time to transformation.

The technologies that spur digital transformation—big data, mobile, cloud, containers—are all open source. The biggest implementation of big data, Hadoop, is based on open source technology. The largest mobile operating system, Android is based on Linux®. The leading container technologies—Kubernetes and Moby—are open source. Today’s largest public cloud providers use open source software, and the most-used private cloud product is OpenStack®.

If digital transformation is evolution sparked by technology, and the leading technologies spurring digital transformation are open source, then digital transformation is inherently open source.

The good news is, so are we.

Keep exploring digital transformation

Icon-Red_Hat-Documents-Paper_Lined-A-Black-RGBHBR report

Reassessing digital transformation

Icon-Red_Hat-Hardware-Laptop-A-Black-RGBBlog post

Organizing for innovation


Digital transformation, the open source way

Icon-Red_Hat-Hardware-Laptop_webinar-A-Black-RGBRed Hat Summit

The killer app in digital transformation is human connection

We can help guide your digital transformation

Red Hat Open Innovation Labs

This residency with Red Hat experts shows you how to use an agile methodology and open source tools to overcome your digital transformation challenges.

Red Hat Consulting

Our strategic advisers help you get from where you are to where you want to be using comprehensive, cost-effective solutions.

Is your team ready to innovate?

To compete in today's market, you need more than technology. Measure your organization's cultural, process, and platform maturity and learn the steps you need to take on your path to digital transformation.

There’s a lot more to do with digital transformation

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