Business Architect Leads Digital Transformation Opportunities in 2021

2020 has been a year like no other — a year marked by the incalculable loss of life; by the economic devastation of a pandemic that has disrupted people, families, governments, and economies around the world.   As enterprises have reacted to the pandemic, new business trends and priorities have emerged, in particular the acceleration of the digital transformation of key business processes, for internal as well as for external stakeholders – starting with the customers.  

The digitization of business processes has been underway for some time and has become a competitive advantage across many industry verticals.   The pandemic has accelerated this trend and there is no reason to believe that the trend will slow down once the pandemic ends.

“Digital Native” enterprises, i.e. those born with strong digital capabilities have leveraged this competitive advantage to expand, as more consumers moved to access services and products online.  Examples include: Amazon, Shopify, Facebook, Salesforce, Google, Etsy, and Netflix. 

But non-digital Native industry verticals (ex. Agriculture and Mining) are also investing in digital capabilities.  Two Canadian examples are Nutrien Ag Solutions and Teck Resources. 

Nutrien produces and distributes over 25 million tonnes of potash, nitrogen and phosphate products for agricultural, industrial and feed customers world-wide. 

Their Digital Hub provides farmers access to the following features anytime and anywhere:

  1. Search and order products online
  2. Download invoices and statements
  3. Make or schedule payments
  4. Access ag-focused weather forecasts and videos
  5. Stay on top of commodity market information

Teck is a diversified resource company committed to responsible mining and mineral development with major business units focused on copper, steelmaking coal and zinc, as well as investments in energy assets. 

RACE21™ is Teck’s innovation-driven efficiency program . 

It’s about taking a company-wide approach to renewing Teck’s technology infrastructure, looking at opportunities for automation and robotics, connecting data systems to enable broad application of advanced analytics and artificial intelligence, and empowering their employees.  This includes a pilot of autonomous haul trucks.  The pilot involves six retrofitted and new Caterpillar trucks and is expected to run for about one year, providing more information about the use of the technology and creating the opportunity for further autonomous haul truck usage at Teck.

The digital transformation trend will continue in 2021 but, more than ever, it requires IT to reinvent itself.  Businesses want IT to be a strategic business partner in digital transformation.  If you are in IT, the Line of Business (LoB) is demanding more innovation and services from IT while your budgets are declining. Already in 2019,  IDC reported that LoBs had more funding for technology-driven projects than IT.  

Over the next 5 years IDC (source) is forecasting that all growth in traditional tech spending will be driven by just four platforms: cloud, mobile, social and big data/analytics. Meanwhile, cost savings generated by cloud and automation will see more spending diverted towards new technologies such as AI, robotics, AR/VR, and blockchain. Next-gen security related to new technologies will also continue to drive significant growth.

These four technology platforms enable IT to deliver to businesses new digital capabilities with agility.  The key question is: what are the new digital capabilities (people, process and technology) that businesses need to be competitive in 2021 and beyond?  The answer is never obvious: IT needs to work with Business Architects to identify and deliver the new digital transformation capabilities for the business.

Business Architect is a key role to help business shape and create the new capabilities that leverage the cloud, mobile, social and big data/analytics platforms.  A Business Architect is a translator, an orchestrator, an innovator and sit at the intersection of business priorities, capabilities and the business stakeholders.

Business Architects help IT align with the LOB priorities and be included in the strategic discussions to deliver stakeholder value.  They enable IT to speak the language of the business, to innovate faster and get projects approved.

IT departments work with Business Architects to create digital roadmaps.  Typical steps include:

  1. Engaging with the key stakeholders (remember customers are a stakeholder).
  2. Discovering the top 4 or 5 business priorities, the business drivers and outcomes expected.
  3. Mapping the business priorities to business capabilities (people, process and technology).
  4. Create a roadmap with timelines and the business case justification.

In future articles I will discuss the Business Architect role in the modern organizational structures, as well as techniques and tools including ROI Calculators, Personas, Journey Maps, Technology Radars, Design Thinking and Roadmaps.

Author: Wade Crick

I lead business conversations at all levels of enterprises to develop business capabilities that are comprised of people, process, and technologies that align with business priorities and outcomes for successful digital transformations.

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