Should technology transform the business or should the business lead a transformation through the use of technology. Others have asserted that transformation mandates large scale technology driven change where the business is compelled to accept new systems / solutions. In my experiences with this type of approach, a gap opens up between the business and technology organizations which is very hard to close. Technology for the sake of technology frequently fails to be satisfy the business. Too often this creates an over-engineered or under-engineered solution. Given today’s business environment, I am not sure any company can afford either of these alternatives. In fact, with am exclusive technology led transformation, the likelihood that the technology will meet the needs of the business is very low.
You may think that I am advocating a business led transformation in light of my comments above. The challenge with a business led transformation is that the business may or may not want to change. If you apply a business led change approach, and the business resists change, how do you make change happen? Many articles, blogs, white papers, and books discuss the resistance to change. This resistance to change is my hypothesis for why technology driven change has grown. In some corporate cultures and environments, technology can be used as a hammer to drive change. This addresses some challenges, and creates new ones, one of which is introduced above.
Change is rarely “back and white”. The question of business or technolgy led transformation encapsulates this debate. At times a business driven change is appropriate. Other times a technology driven change is better. In order to lead change, you need a took box full of approaches, techniques, tips, and even tricks that span business and technology domains. Depending on where your change effort is in the lifecycle of activity, you will be well served to lean on the business at certain times (e.g. defining the strategy) while leveraging technology as well (e.g. overcoming resistance).