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Sustainable Digital Transformation

The concept of “sustainable” digital transformation is to apply technology to transform the sustainability standing of an organisation.  It starts wit hthe technolgy ecosystem itself, an architectural framework that takes a holistic and long-term view to an organisation’s digital transformation journey, with principles of planet, people and principles of governance at the heart of decision-making alongside business requirement (prosperity).


Why is this approach important?

In many digital transformation journeys, there is a mistake of implementing technology for technology’s sake, or of different business streams not collaborating, which can result in a silo’d approach of similar but different applications being implemented across an organisation, resulting in technical debt, increased license costs, integration issues, data silo’s and duplication, increased training and support/maintenance costs.  Following the principles of sustainable digital transformation increases the value of the IT assets by leveraging them more deeply, while reducing costs and duplication of effort.


How is this approach implemented?

The first stage of the journey is to determine and document the organisation’s IT ecosystem, in order to have a complete picture of all IT technologies in use.  This represents the “periodical table of the elements” upon which all solutions are built.  It is rare that a system exists completely in isolation, but that it will interface with, share data with, or integrate with other systems.  From the periodical table, these technologies are combined to provide multiple line of business solutions.  Standardising the use and re-use of technologies (e.g. PowerBI for all Analytics, Dataverse to provide a secure system of record), not only reduces cost, but increases the speed at which new line of business solutions can be deployed, implemented and adopted, as there is already familiarity with the UI among end-users.


At what stage of the digital transformation journey can this be applied?

Applying this architectural framework brings benefits regardless of the stage of the journey.  While prevention (of technical debt) is better than cure, as common mistakes are avoided, the approach can be applied to a mature IT setup or one that is currently undergoing significant change due to digital transformation.  The challenges to an organisation on implementing transformational change is made easier by streamlining the technologies being used and being open to acting upon new information.


Where did this concept originate?

The Sustainable Digital Transformation concept was first implemented at a global renewable energy major, utilising a Microsoft-centric, pure-cloud ecosystem.  The architectural principles were applied rigorously to all transformation projects over a five year period, resulting in significant capital and operational cost-savings year-on-year, zero growth in IT support staff required despite a 300% growth in company headcount, an increase in live business solutions from 15 to 45, without any additional technologies being added.  The approach won the global ICMG/Zachman award in 2019 in New York for Digital Strategy to Execution

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