Control of the means of innovation is the key to digital transformation

When our enterprise clients are about to undertake a massive digital transformation project, they often ask us some difficult questions: why are digital leaders – Facebook, Google, Amazon – ten times better at rapidly delivering innovation than mainstream enterprise organisations? And why are some of the world’s biggest brands, with all their resources, experience and established market share, unable to fight off software-driven disruption?

Our answer: in today’s technology and software-driven world, companies need to own their innovation capability.

If technology is your business – and it is – you cannot risk outsourcing it to a sub-par third party under a slow transactional arrangement at the lowest possible cost. In this way we’ve seen countless enterprises treating IT as a commodity that they outsource to concentrate on “running their business”. This is a fallacy. These companies won’t notice it straight away, but bit by digital bit, step by innovative step, new market entrants with superior in-house innovation capabilities will eat them alive over the coming years.

If you wish to iterate on your software with speed, agility, innovation and invention – digital transformation – then you need to bring those skills closer to home, where they can be nurtured and matured.     

But enterprises lack the means for their own reinvention. They lack the internal skills and talent due to a combination of technological and organisational legacy and unattractive and frustrating work environments that mean the digital talent they need doesn’t want to work there. This results in the above-mentioned reliance on outsourcing, which leaves the enterprise hollowed out over the long run.

But it’s not simply a case of opening the cheque book and hiring in the skills. There is simply a shortage of digitally mature skills in the industry, which drives the cost of talent up even if it can be sourced.

The old guard – the system integrators or SIs – can’t help either. They are set up to deliver cost efficiently and predictably, with a focus on keeping the lights on. Much of the work is offshore and involves ticket-based requests into overburdened shared service teams. They have established cost bases including physical data centres, existing investments in old skills, and need to land and expand with big teams of people numbering in the tens of hundreds.

DevOps methods in the cloud delivers two-week innovation timeframes from idea to implementation for new software features

As a result, these SIs are losing their status as an employer of choice, making it harder for them to secure the top, niche talent in modern areas such as cloud computing. In turn, this reduces the level of service they can offer to their enterprise clients.

Where enterprises are trying to deliver software faster, more frequently and better, these traditional SI relationships have become a challenge. They are in no way set up to support the speed, agility, innovation, creativity that companies need from technology partners supporting their own digital transformation.

Contino seek to transform through simultaneous delivery and upskilling, focusing on high-performing DevOps ways of working in the public cloud. We’ve helped some of the world’s biggest enterprises to reinvent themselves by giving them the skills they need to innovate at speed and scale. DevOps methods in the cloud delivers two-week innovation timeframes from idea to implementation for new software features.

We work within one team to build lighthouse projects that demonstrate to the rest of the company the effectiveness of modern ways of working, before pushing this model out to other teams gradually. We work alongside our clients as a team so they can experience the more effective tools and ways of working that characterise the digital leaders, and then learn to replicate these for themselves.

This means that our clients are in a position to maintain their digital momentum themselves over the long term.

Our white paper Fast & Furious: How to Unlock Digital Transformation Value Through Lighthouse Projects explains our unique approach that focuses on partnering with clients to deliver small-scale projects, which act as a beacon for future capabilities and enable successful transformations at scale.