"Digital transformation" may be one of the most overused buzz phrases in recent times, but it may also be one of the most misunderstood.
That’s because digital transformation is not about using technology to do the same things you’ve always done, only faster, cheaper, and better. It’s about using technology to do things that weren’t possible before—creating new products and services that drive more revenue.
For a classic example, take Amazon. The e-commerce pioneer began by selling books, then morphed into selling virtually everything else under the sun. But Amazon’s most valuable product turned out to be its own IT infrastructure, which it began marketing to the world as Amazon Web Services (AWS) in 2006. Last year, profits from AWS surpassed those from its e-commerce operations, generating $11.1 billion in revenue.
The key to Amazon’s success? Standardization and automation. Amazon was able to reduce human latency by relying on APIs and web services, enabling it to scale rapidly to meet demand while holding the line on costs.
Digital transformation is about more than merely modernizing IT practices or moving everything into the cloud. It’s about moving from a mindset focused on improving business processes to one driven by improving business value. But before IT can become a strategic partner in the business, it needs to fundamentally change how it operates.
While there is no single set of rules or a specific road map to success, there are some general principles that often prove successful to cloud architects.
Many IT departments expend too many resources manually provisioning cloud apps and services. That’s because they’re still doing things the old way, using GUIs and command-line interfaces. The first step in achieving digital transformation is automating as many of these processes as possible, using REST APIs, templates, and scripts.
You can’t iterate processes and achieve incremental improvements if you’re doing everything for the first time every time.