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Legacy processes are holding back your digital business

Mary Branscombe | June 2, 2017
Having a digital business model isn't about online sales, and it’s not just about technology; it’s about using technology to support a flexible, connected operating model. But in many organisations, technology has outpaced process.

“What if I can have a single place to control and manage and govern data, and get all the benefits of a system of record — which really you have only had for the most fringe parts of your business? The most regulated documents are the only ones you’ve typically had a system of record around.”

“We think business content flows between those two states frequently but it's so unpredictable that you don’t want to have these things in different systems. Maybe I want to pull up a marketing asset from five years ago in my workflow where I’m able to collaborate with people; I don't want to have systems that can’t understand each other when I'm doing that.”

 

Time to unfreeze

Some Box customers are already building those integrations, connecting Box to SAP or using it for content management in Oracle ERP systems.  But the biggest problem in becoming digital and taking advantage of cloud may not be the technology, warns Box CIO Paul Chapman. Ironically, it’s the fact that your processes already work, and they dictate the way your business works.

He uses the term ‘frozen middle’ for the part of your business that’s hard to change. “It’s this entrenched inertia, this entrenched way of operating that's been optimized to support the organization. It's hard to inject enough tension into it to create change. This has nothing to do with technology; in fact technology has outstripped and outpaced the ability of the organization to keep up.”

Instead of just expecting a digital business model to fall out of technology changes you make, he advises, “You have to really think through what that future state operating model looks like, because companies have been in a stepwise, linear way optimised around the same operating model — and that's a dead end.”

Those are business changes; but they’re changes that IT has to be flexible enough to enable.

 

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