The ‘Aha’ Moment: Digital Transformation is More Than an IT Investment

by Jack Calhoun, on Jul 28, 2020 3:15:00 PM

It was the spring of 1990, computers were just starting to be distributed throughout the business - no longer a “mainframe” in the basement. Tim Berners-Lee develops HyperText Markup Language (HTML), giving rise to the World Wide Web. The first .com name is registered. The Pentium microprocessor advances the use of graphics and audio on PCs.

I was working at The Index Group - a company founded at MIT and led by James Champy, Tom Garrity and a computer science professor Michael Hammer. Today, I have more computing power and connectivity in my watch than entire companies had back then.

The teams at The Index Group supported Michael Hammer in writing the landmark HBR article entitled; Reengineering Work: Don’t Automate, Obliterate.

“The usual methods for boosting performance—process improvement, quality and automation—haven’t yielded the dramatic improvements companies need. In particular, heavy investments in information technology have delivered disappointing results—largely because companies tend to use technology to mechanize old ways of doing business. They leave the existing processes intact and use computers simply to speed them up.

But speeding up those processes cannot address their fundamental performance deficiencies. Many of our job designs, workflows, control mechanisms, and organizational structures came of age in a different competitive environment and before the advent of the computer. They are geared toward efficiency and control. Yet the watchwords of the new decade are innovation and speed, service and quality.

It is time to stop paving the cow paths. Instead of embedding outdated processes in silicon and software, we should obliterate them and start over. We should “reengineer” our businesses: use the power of modern information technology to radically redesign our business processes in order to achieve dramatic improvements in their performance.”

The Shift from Paper Based to Technology-Enabled 

The very nature of work was going through a dramatic shift – from paper-based processes and functional hierarchy to technology-enabled, super-efficient and innovative new models of work. The shift is even more profound today. Today we call this digital transformation, but the principles and the need to design new models of work are even more important today then it was back in 1990.

This is why I co-founded Accelare, derived from accelerate – to move faster, with a mission to change and radically improve the nature of management and work. And my ‘aha moment’? Well it has lasted 30 years and will continue on – as I continue to help businesses master re-engineering and digital transformation.

Given information technology is high investment and potentially high reward, choosing the right technology and the right company to help you implement is crucial. For more on digital transformation support, check out: What did you buy when you were looking for Digital Transformation Support?

Get the support you need to find, select and roll out the right technology to equip your team for digital transformation. Contact us for a consultation to help create a digital transformation plan of attack!

Written by Jack Calhoun

Jack Calhoun is the CEO and Co-Founder of Accelare. Jack is a noted teacher and author, including co-author of The Next Revolution in Productivity and a key contributor to the works of Michael Hammer and Jim Champy including Best Selling Re-engineering the Corporation and X-Engineering. Jack was also the winner of the CSC Technical Excellence Award for his work in systems development methods and tools.  Jack’s prior company, Business Architects was sold to Ross Perot and Perot Systems where Jack was the lead consultant on the turn-around of Harvard Pilgrim HealthCare. Jack served as an Advisory Board Member at the Tennenbaum Institute of Georgia Tech which has launched the first Masters of Science degree program in Enterprise Transformation.

Jack obsesses about business process and customer experience consultant design so traveling with him can be quite an eye opener. Jack is also an avid skier, surfer, runner, musician and grandparent.

Topics:Strategy to ExecutionDigital TransformationPlatform Design Engineering


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