BizOps: High digitalization art is created in tough day-to-day work of business and IT

"Companies that have not secured sufficient digitization expertise will fail with digitization projects and pay an expensive lesson."

Digitization and the associated transformation of processes, products and customer relationships into the digital world is the undisputed megatrend in IT. However, many companies still fail to find the right approaches for comprehensive digitization. These are often individual projects in which new procedures, services or products are tried out. However, many of those responsible do not yet dare to take the big leap. There are often too many imponderables, both in business terms and in terms of technology.

Business managers rightly ask themselves how they can monetize digital services, such as the much-described predictive maintenance. IT managers, on the other hand, are often overwhelmed when it comes to selecting and orchestrating cloud services to support digital or digitally enhanced processes. The uncertainty results on the one hand from too little know-how, but on the other hand also from a certain immaturity of the services offered. In addition, there are still missing or too complex procedures for the management and performance measurement of the new services. IT managers are often unable to determine precisely enough whether the services are being provided to the promised extent and quality; in short, whether the investment of resources and personnel is indeed worthwhile from an economic point of view.

Techquilibrum: new balance between IT and business

The analysts at Gartner, who are never at a loss for new word creations, have therefore introduced the term "techquilibrum" in November of last year.

With this term, which is made up of terms “technology” and “equilibrium”, the analysts are referring to the fact that that every company - depending on its industry, its own capabilities as well as the needs of its customers - must find its individual level of digitization. According to them, it is achieved in dealing with customers when value is created in every moment in which technology and people meet.

According to Gartner, to achieve this techquilibrium and be successful in the future, companies must, among other things, overcome the "and" dilemma. Many of the things that seem contradictory at first glance would have to be managed simultaneously by companies in the future. For example: striving for growth and reducing costs at the same time, being a traditional and digital company at the same time, analyzing and executing in parallel, or being stable and changing at the same time.

Before digitization projects, there is analysis

"Techquilibrum is, of course, a typically abstract Gartner term," says Stefan Deml, co-founder and CEO of Munich-based systems integrator amasol. "But if you break it down to everyday digitization, it actually describes a very pragmatic approach, which I also recommend to user companies."

Deml advises users to first analyze their market to get a feel for the level of digitization required. "The requirements for digitization are certainly higher and more urgent in end-customer online retail than in traditional B2B building materials retail, for example" he explains. Knowing what the market needs or can tolerate in terms of digitization, he says, companies should take a thoroughly rigorous look at the capabilities of their organization, their business units, and especially their IT. "Companies that have not secured sufficient digitization expertise - either built up themselves or bought in - will fail with digitization projects and pay an expensive lesson," warns amasol strategist Deml. Finally, he advocates focusing on technology. "You can buy a lot here, in terms of ready-made services and even more in terms of platforms on which you can build services yourself. But here, too, you need a lot of know-how."

Technology management becomes business operation management

With cloud services, for example, it is easier for medium-sized companies to access certain services, but without deployment know-how and technology management, it is not possible. "IT and digital leaders need to know if services are performing, if data is being transferred properly, and if the transactions are being completed at the required pace. Above all, they need to know whether the various IT services are adequately supporting the business and where there are still gaps."

In times of digitalization, this is more about business operation management than pure technology management, also emphasizes Frank Jahn, member of the Management Board at amasol responsible for sales: "That was our motive for launching the BizOps Forum last year. It will take place for the second time on May 13, 2020. At the conference, precisely such topics are negotiated at the junctions of business, operations, and IT. The whole thing takes place with and in front of the people it's about: IT managers, business managers and operations managers."

Companies must change a few things

However, companies striving for their techquilibrium must be prepared to make some changes. It starts with the makeup of the teams, which should be much more heterogeneous. Members should come from IT, operations, as well as business.

In addition, more technology expertise is needed across the board. Since hardly any digital project can get by without IT, companies should consider how they can simplify the use of digital tools so that more employees can handle them, or more people from the business departments can launch digital services themselves with the help of low-code platforms, for example.

To enable more employees in companies to benefit from modern IT solutions and customers to benefit more from digital solutions, organizations are also required to think more about automating processes through IT and digitization. This applies to decision support through artificial intelligence and business analytics as well as to the handling of customer inquiries, orders, or complaints.

Simpler tools and more automation are needed

However, lowering the skill level with the help of easy-to-use tools and a higher degree of automation in processes and IT place greater demands on IT business management. It has the task of absorbing the complexity in front of the user and at the same time ensuring that the various technologies used work together smoothly so that they meet business requirements in a verifiable and traceable manner; especially if they are provided by external operators.

"This turns IT management into business operations management. Topics such as application performance management, IT operations analytics or technology business management move much closer to the business. Without these tools, hardly anything runs in modern, increasingly digitalized companies. Organizations that take the challenges of digitization seriously need these tools as the basis for their business and thus for their survival," concludes Deml.

About the Author: Christoph Witte

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