Using ‘lighthouse’ projects to accelerate DX

By Michael Chalmers
Michael Chalmers on how organisations can use lighthouse projects foster the confidence to innovate in 2021...

Innovation is desperately needed in 2021. While many companies have risen to the challenges of this year, adopting public cloud and implementing work-from-home technologies, it’s clear that they have a long way to go yet. “77 per cent of organisations are in the cloud” says Michael Chalmers, MD EMEA at transformation consultancy Contino. “But only 13 per cent have a fully-fledged public cloud program, according to Contino’s new research. Many business leaders have told us they are stuck in the proof-of-concept or planning stages for their cloud programmes.”

“Yet the time for data-sharing, collaborative working and silo destruction is right now, as companies face unprecedented disruption. The technological hesitancy we’re seeing from organisations is worrying as we head into 2021 and a new working world, in which only the most flexible, adaptable companies will thrive.”

Chalmers thinks digital transformation is as much about the attitude of teams as it is about the technology available to them. “Digital transformation seems like a Herculean task for many organisations. From keeping up with disruptive start-ups and ever-shifting customer expectations, confronting fierce global competitors, and navigating a pandemic while dealing with critical skills shortages – the challenges are big.”

But in his experience, it’s confidence that really opens the door to making the right changes: “While working with enterprises across the world, we’ve seen how teams are searching for statistical, bona fide proof. Change is always going to feel uncomfortable, but when a necessary transformation – for instance, the shift to a serverless platform to cope with rapidly scaling customer demand – can be proven on a small scale, business leaders and their teams immediately have the sparkling proof of concept they need to take confident next steps and scale it up.”

“This is the essence of a lighthouse project,” explains Chalmers. “At a time when companies must innovate or risk becoming irrelevant as the pandemic subsides, these small projects provide a vital beacon, showing the right direction for innovation. They provide the strongest of starts for getting innovative solutions scaled across the business at lightning fast speeds.”

“For instance, our work with NAB, one of Australia’s biggest banks, began with a lighthouse project to demonstrate the benefits of the public cloud”, he says. “Its success lit the way, providing a strong mandate for moving the existing cloud program forward with huge momentum. We ended up migrating 30 apps to the public cloud in 50 days.”

Lighthouse projects provide the impetus for a fast and efficient digital transformation, but the sign of a truly great project is sustainability. “Business leaders also want to see that their teams can handle the technological requirements of these transformations,” adds Chalmers. “Outsourced teams responsible for kickstarting the small-scale demonstration must share their knowledge and skills with businesses, to ensure they are self-sufficient going forward. Upskilling is a vital part of the innovation that we hope to see blossoming in 2021.” 

Economic and social disruption have always been an opportunity for innovation – from the world wars, to the financial crash of 2008, which saw companies like Netflix rise from the ashes with innovative ideas to boot. But for organisations coping with the fallout of Covid, this revival doesn’t need to feel like an insurmountable task. “Many companies have what it takes for effective innovation in 2021: they’re in the cloud, and they recognise the need to better their offerings to customers thanks to Covid’s illumination of insufficient processes. Now, all they need is to fan the flame of an initial spark of innovation. Once it begins to burn and is allowed to spread, the entire enterprise will benefit from its warmth.”

Michael Chalmers is MD EMEA at Contino

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