Digital transformation consulting is a service that can help organizations unlock new business value through technology. One common reason organizations seek digital transformation consulting is to deliver products and services to market faster, at lower risk.
Every consulting firm is different, but in general their services will evaluate more than just an organization’s technology choices. This is because the underlying social structure—people, ways of working, and how they’re organized—are also part of delivering better customer experiences and business outcomes through technology. Put another way, digital transformation consulting is socio-technical in nature, rather than just a technology implementation.
Improving the customer experience, whether that customer is external to the organization or an internal user, should be the ultimate focus of a digital transformation strategy.
This can be achieved by accelerating the adoption of technology across an organization, and maximizing its impact. Digital transformation consulting services are successful when they address how people, processes, and technology align to affect business outcomes like customer experience. This holistic approach is how organizations can successfully keep up with technology disruption, by enabling teams across a business with processes to evaluate new technology and handle rapid change.
Digital Transformation is not something that can be outsourced or done to an organization. Digital transformation requires strong leadership, often both at an individual level and through a guiding coalition within the organization. Consulting services are often engaged because they bring experience implementing digital transformation strategies in different organizations across industry sectors. This external experience can provide a balancing partnership for the insider perspectives of those leading digital transformation within an organization. How potential advisors define their view of digital transformation can say a lot about what kind of approach they will take.
The term "digital transformation" is used—and misused—to describe many IT concepts. Sometimes it’s used to mean new architectures, like microservices, or new practices, like DevOps, or new technologies, like containers and application programming interfaces (APIs). Each of these could be part of a digital transformation initiative, but none of them takes into account the bigger picture.
The Enterprisers Project, which publishes viewpoints from CIOs and other IT leaders, takes a more holistic view. They describe digital transformation as "the integration of digital technology into all areas of a business, fundamentally changing how you operate and deliver value to customers. It's also a cultural change that requires organizations to continually challenge the status quo, experiment, and get comfortable with failure."
Red Hat supports the Enterprisers Project, and takes a similar view. Our consultants view digital transformation as a process at the intersection of people and culture; process and practices; technology; and organizational structures that must evolve to unlock new business value faster. No matter the exact problem, every digital transformation initiative needs to consider and bring balance across each of these areas or they will eventually stop seeing a return on their investments.
These more holistic definitions of digital transformation often encompass the adoption of a "cloud-native" approach. Cloud-native organizations are not necessarily hosting their applications in the cloud, but they do build, run, and improve their applications based on the well-known techniques and technologies associated with cloud computing. This includes working practices, software architecture, and the organizational structure.
Cloud-native development is a popular approach to digital transformation, especially for organizations that want to improve existing technology investments they made before the rise of cloud computing. Not every digital transformation initiative will lead to the adoption of cloud-native development practices. Other approaches may include an investment in automation or simply making the shift to a technology-focused business model to begin with. Whether your digital transformation initiative involves a cloud-native approach or not, the key point is that it’s less about what technology you adopt, more about how you approach problems and are organized to respond to them.
Red Hat believes most organizations struggle with digital transformation because they think technology alone can solve their business challenges. In reality, it’s issues like organizational friction, poor psychological safety, cognitive overload within teams, a lack of empowerment and autonomy, or ineffective governance, process, and product lifecycle management that hold organizations back. They may succeed at adopting or developing a new technology, but fail to see the expected return on investment because of unaddressed socio-technical challenges.
Our approach is to connect your teams’ ideas with the best practices and tools that open source communities have to offer. Red Hat experts bring deep experience with Red Hat technologies, open source communities, and the key transformative practices needed to unlock your teams’ potential.
Unlike some digital transformation consulting firms, we don’t believe in one prescribed methodology or practice. We have over 100 field-tested open practices to accelerate cultural change and establish high-performing teams. For example, we have found social contracts, pair programming, and practices that cultivate transparency, psychological safety, and trust are essential ingredients to build high performing, problem solving teams.
Our open practices are underpinned by our adaptive framework that meets the challenge and environment where it is. We help teams establish a healthy cadence between thinking and doing, so they not only commit to action, but probe, sense, and respond in order to solve complex problems.
If you are considering digital transformation consulting, it can be helpful to review transformation examples from similar industries or technology challenges. Red Hat’s digital transformation consultants have worked with organizations around the world in virtually every industry to apply our unique combination of open source community practices and software tools to many different use cases. We’ve collected some of our best insights from these projects as case studies to help you weigh the opportunities you may find through our services.