September 3, 2019
By Joe Garber, Global Head of Influencer Marketing, Micro Focus
Many are familiar with the African proverb “it takes a village to raise a child.” This embodies the belief of many local tribes that an entire community of people must engage in raising a child for that child to learn from the broad experience of a community and to grow in a safe and healthy environment. While it’s still applicable for bringing up a child, the term now also applies to digital transformation (DX).
Without a doubt, DX isn’t simple. It’s often accomplished through the culmination of related projects that overlap and are driven by numerous people within the enterprise who may have differing priorities. Moreover, DX requires a broad set of expertise and intellectual property (IP), much of which doesn’t reside in-house. The result? Generally, as organizations evolve, they need help from a community to take advantage of a broader set of experience, and they require expert counsel so they can evolve in a methodical and secure environment.
In the IT world, a “village” is akin to a strong partner program. These networks of like-minded organizations bring together critical and complimentary expertise and IP to deliver a combined value chain that is greater than the sum of its parts. But what exactly does that mean? How do you identify a strong partner program to assist with your DX strategies? Here are a few critical attributes to look for in an optimal vendor/partner relationship:
Portfolio Coverage: A DX strategy is multifaceted, and many organizations will require a broad technology portfolio, which crosses some (or all) of the four core pillars of DX: enterprise DevOps, hybrid IT management, security, risk and governance and predictive analytics. Identifying an ecosystem that can deliver depth within one of these areas, or the breadth to cross many, is naturally a key first step.
Alignment on Customer Success: The road to DX will have some twists and turns, which could require change midstream and crossover to unanticipated new projects. Because of this, it’s important to select teams that take time to listen carefully to customer needs (via customer advisory boards, partner summits and more), and that are willing to evolve its road maps accordingly. This type of customer-centric innovation will help you innovate faster with less risk and naturally meet evolving requirements more easily.
Breadth of Expertise: DX strategies often have many components, and one partner may not have all of the expertise needed to fulfil all needs over the long run. For instance, an initiative might require strategic consulting expertise to determine how to address emerging requirements, a second provider to establish the IT framework, and a third to pull the pieces together. Make sure to look for broad – and global, if you’re a multinational – partner network with expertise in all critical aspects of transforming the business.
Architectural and Integration Strategies: It’s common to come across a software vendor or GSI with a “lock in” mentality. They may suggest you pursue a rip-and-replace strategy or push to standardize on a deployment model. This kind of approach is often in direct contrast to typical DX principles, which aim to deliver even more flexibility to the organization over time such as maximizing current infrastructure and systems, adding new applications and pursuing hybrid cloud strategies. Instead, look for partnerships that prioritize flexibility and deliver architectural and integration strategies to help you bridge the old and the new – to ultimately achieve optimum corporate agility.
Synergies and Teamwork: A partnership without the “partnering” is akin to what parenting books describe as parallel playing – where two children play near each other but …
… not with each other. With the stakes as high as they are with getting DX right, an organization doesn’t have the luxury of letting two parties not work together at an optimal level to support their needs. An IT vendor and its partner(s) supporting a given customer must invest time and resources on an ongoing basis to ensure they are aligned, cross trained and have the tools and assets to be able to deliver a holistic solution.
Longevity and Viability: A sound DX strategy isn’t one act or one project, but instead a series of initiatives that are carried out over the long term, over many years. It therefore stands to reason that one should ask: Can I trust this team to be there over the long run? Choose poorly, and you may introduce unintended consequences such as starting over, technology incompatibility and lost time and budget. A leading indicator of longevity and viability is often the investment each party makes in the other. If an IT vendor demonstrates it is investing in a partner program, and partners are actively engaged in vendor events and enablement, it stands to reason they will form a strong team built to deliver value over the long term.
While the benefits of evolving your organization to become more digitally advanced are numerous, the path forward isn’t always clear. Often, the difference between success and failure is determined by choosing the right ecosystem of IT experts to shepherd you along the way. These “villages” are frequently critical to help you achieve a meaningful return on investment while reducing the risk associated with time to value.
Joe Garber is the global head of strategy and solutions at Micro Focus, where he drives strategic efforts to help customers map technology to commercial needs as a step toward digital transformation, particularly in the critical areas of hybrid IT, enterprise DevOps, predictive analytics and security, risk and governance. He works alongside customers and partners, internal cross-functional teams and industry thought leaders to recognize and interpret technology trends. Part of his role includes staying up to date on evolving technologies (cloud, mobile, IoT, big data, data science) and competitive market activities, as well as mapping use cases, and uncovering best practices to facilitate technology value capture and creation. Follow him on LinkedIn or @MicroFocus.
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