Driving Digital: A book review by Bob Morris

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Driving Digital: The Leader’s Guide to Business Transformation Through Technology
Isaac Sacolick
AMACOM (August 2017)

All organizations need leaders willing and able to “take on the challenges of driving business and digital transformation”

In this book, Isaac Sacolick provides an abundance of information, insights, and counsel that can help business leaders to transform their organization through technology so that it can not only survive but indeed thrive in a global marketplace that is today more volatile, more uncertain, more complex, and more ambiguous than at any prior time that I can recall.

I agree with Sacolick: These leaders must be willing and able to “take on the challenges of driving business and digital transformation. [Organizations] need great technology leadership with a solutions-oriented team, outstanding platforms, and bulletproof practices….Businesses need practices to grow their abilities to drive decisions and create winning products by leveraging their data assets…[They] also need practices to learn customer needs, track new forms of competitive offerings, and evolve online and offline customer experiences…Finally, businesses need a new form of collaboration and partnership among technologies, marketers, product managers, data scientists, and key sales executives to align on strategy, partner on execution, and drive a smarter, faster digital culture.”

Sacolick wrote this book in order to explain, thoroughly, HOW to achieve these strategic objectives. He recommends a four-step process:

1. Get the IT team ready with digital practices.
2. Propel investment and innovation.
3. Develop the foundations for digital execution.
4. Drive digital growth and culture.

These are among the several dozen passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of Sacolick’s coverage:

o Digital transformation process (Pages 1-15)
o Definition of a digital business (10-15)
o Agile practices (17-70)
o Agile teams (21-32)
o Agile planning practices (33-50)

o Agile estimation (39-45 and 248-249)
o Agile Operations Defined (73-88)
o Agile Architecture (88-114)
o IT Culture (114-121)
o Agile Portfolio Management (123-154)

o Data-driven organizations (155-210)
o Product Strategy in Digital Transformation (217-235)
o Product development and ownership (236-239)
o The Cultural Underpinnings of Digital Operations (252-261)
o Driving Digital — The Lens of Smarter-Faster (261-263)

I agree with Isaac Sacolick that stronger practices and more reliable execution will enable business leaders in any organization — whatever its size and nature may be — to recognize and evaluate new business opportunities and models. “Competitive threats, new opportunities, impacts of maturing technologies, and the need to provide increasing value to customers require leaders that can leverage the digital lens. They need confidence in the organization’s capabilities to go smarter and faster, which enables them to see the world through the lens of digital opportunities. That is the meaning of driving digital.”

One final point: In my opinion what he characterizes as “digital opportunities” are best viewed as business opportunities because their potential impact and value will be at all levels and in all areas of operation of the given enterprise.

That is why I highly recommend Enterprise Architecture as Strategy: Creating a Foundation for Business Execution, co-authored by Jeanne Ross, Peter Weill, and David Robertson (Harvard Business Review Press 2006).

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