In the aftermath of COVID-19, it has become evident that every company must embrace technology
to thrive in the modern business landscape. The pandemic accelerated the shift towards online working, increased online demand, and heightened cyber threats, making technology a critical business capability. To succeed in the face of these challenges, organisations must modernise their technology functions to deliver value quickly and sustainably.
A new comprehensive approach known as “tech-forward” has emerged, addressing the complex interlinkages between technology and business while ensuring self-funded scalability. This article explores the tech-forward model, focusing on three interconnected vectors and their ten specific plays, offering insights and guidelines for successful technology transformations.
While some companies have achieved notable success in their tech transformations, many
still need help with complexity and high failure rates. Many companies are in
the pilot phase of transformation, indicating the need for better approaches.
To address these challenges, we spoke with numerous CIOs from leading companies
worldwide, identifying three standard failure modes and their corresponding
- Piecemeal Activity and Limited Scope: Initiatives often need more coordination and account for crucial dependencies. Modernisation efforts, such as migrating to the cloud, must consider other essential factors like cyber strategy, agile, and DevOps. Failure to do so can lead to missed opportunities and unintended consequences.
- No Link to Business Value: Investing in “shiny object” technologies without precise alignment with business goals can result in limited value to the organization. A governance program tied to the business, explicit P&L results, and specific metrics for tracking progress is essential to ensure that technology investments contribute to tangible business outcomes.
- Too Expensive to Sustain: Tech transformations are costly, and if the return on investment lies too far in the future, support for critical assets may dwindle. Successful changes prioritise activities that unlock value quickly, such as agile sourcing strategies, clean-sheeting portfolios, and optimising engineering
Transformation Model As Business Technical Infrastructure
To enable successful tech transformations, the tech-forward model encompasses three interconnected vectors, each consisting of ten specific plays:
Vector #1: A Reimagined Role for Technology that’s Focused on the Business
- Play #1: Technology-Led Business Models
- Play #2: Product and Platform-Centered Operating Model
- Play #3: Technology as the Steward of Digital User Journeys
Vector #2: A Technology Delivery Model Built for Flexibility and Speed
- Play #4: Agile Product-Engineering Model
- Play #5: Next-Generation Infrastructure Services
- Play #6: In-House Mission-Critical Engineering
- Play #7: Thoughtful Vendor Partnerships
Vector #3: A Future-Proof Foundation of Core Tech Systems that Support Innovation, Collaboration, and Security
- Play #8: Microservices-Based Architecture
- Play #9: Data and Analytics Systems for Insightful Decision-Making
- Play #10: Integrated Security and Privacy Protections
The Tech-Forward Approach In Action
To illustrate the tech-forward model, we look at the transformation of a consumer-services company aiming to improve customer experiences. The CIO collaborated with business-unit leaders to develop digital channels and products aligned with specific business value (Play #1). They established a new model for business-technology partnership, streamlining technology requests and prioritisation (Play #2).
The tech teams embraced an agile product-engineering model (Play #4), enabling cross-functional collaboration and user-focused design thinking. By implementing cloud-based services (Play #5) and modernising foundational systems with microservices (Play #8), they rapidly rolled out new digital offerings, realising value and ROI quickly.
1. What is business technology infrastructure?
Business technology infrastructure, also known as IT infrastructure, refers to the foundational components and systems that enable a company to develop, implement, and operate the applications supporting its business operations. These components include computing resources, network infrastructure, workplace tools, data platforms, and edge capabilities.
2. What technologies drive business transformation?
In the digital era, various technologies are vital in driving business transformation. These technologies include having a well-defined digital transformation strategy, adopting a hybrid cloud architecture, leveraging advanced analytics, and utilising cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, automation, edge computing, and the Internet of Things (IoT).
3. What are the seven domains of IT infrastructure?
In most organisations, regardless of their size or sector, the IT infrastructure comprises seven domains:
- User Domain: The individuals and their devices accessing the network and systems.
- Workstation Domain: The end-user devices (workstations) used to access and interact with the network.
- LAN Domain: The Local Area Network that facilitates communication and resource sharing within a localised area.
- LAN-to-WAN Domain: The connection between the Local Area Network and the Wide Area Network, enabling access to external resources.
- WAN Domain: The Wide Area Network that connects multiple LANs and remote locations.
- Remote Access Domain: The infrastructure that allows secure access to the network from remote locations.
- System/Application Domain: The domain encompasses the servers and applications used to support business processes and services.
The tech-forward approach offers a comprehensive and interconnected strategy for successful technology transformations. By focusing on the three vectors and their ten plays, organisations can modernise their technology functions while aligning with business goals and delivering value rapidly. Embracing agility, collaboration, and innovation, companies can navigate the complex tech landscape and emerge as resilient and tech-savvy leaders in their respective industries.