BizOps: The Digital Transformation Framework for Today, and Tomorrow

This blog post offers a look at why BizOps was an imperative at the start of the year—and why that remains just as true today. Find out why BizOps now represents such a critical digital transformation framework for today’s enterprises.

Prone to Failure: Making Predictions in the Year 2020

If you’d asked me in January what the standings in Major League Baseball’s American League East would be heading into September, I’d have told you with conviction that the Red Sox would be in first, or at least in contention—not in last place. Not to mention that I’d not have imagined, let alone predicted, a scenario in which they’d only be around 30 games into the season at that point.

I’m a sports fan and revel in the (way too early) predictions of sports writers, using their insights to help guide which athletes I add to my fantasy teams before each season. Making predictions under any circumstances can be dicey, but in 2020, nearly all bets have been off, with seasons being shortened, interrupted, or as in the case of college football, cancelled completely.

Like sports reporters, come January, tech journalists are also accustomed to publishing articles that highlight their predictions for the coming year. Not surprisingly, few of the predictions made then are of much value today.

BizOps Survey Results: Bedrock Assumptions that Last

With all this as a context, I think it’s interesting and heartening to look at the results of a study we did several months ago, and see how well the insights have aged. To further explore the challenges that business leaders face and how BizOps can help them forge a better way forward with IT teams, we commissioned a survey of more than 200 business executives with Harvard Business Review Analytics Services. The findings are available in a report entitled “BizOps: Connecting IT to Business Outcomes.”1

The survey was conducted in April 2020, and published a couple months later. Let’s just say the insights from the report are holding up well, in spite of all the dramatic change we’ve been experiencing. In fact, I’d say there are a few bedrock assumptions you can take from the report that can provide some solidity in our uncertain world.

Assumption #1. Complexity: It’s Not Going Anywhere

The survey found DevOps, agile methodologies, microservices, and containerized applications have dramatically increased the complexity of IT environments. In fact, 48% of respondents said the complexity of IT environments has created a sense of chaos in their organization. What’s more, 74% of respondents said IT environments are likely to become significantly more complex over the next 18 months.

If we were to go back to these respondents today, I think it’s safe to say that if these perspectives have changed, it’s only in the direction of more, not less, complexity. If chaos was a reality for about half of respondents, I’d wager the numbers have only grown. While the aforementioned technologies and trends remain a significant factor, new changes, urgency, and complexity have emerged. Whether it’s providing new services for remote worker collaboration, rolling out new digital services for customers, or supporting entirely new customer offerings, teams have been contending with more change and technological complexity than ever. I’m not going out on a limb when I say it’s a safe bet for these trends to continue.

Assumption #2. The IT/Business Disconnect: Still an Issue After All These Years

The IT/business disconnect is certainly not new. It’s been around as long as there have been IT and business teams—and it remains a problem. In the survey, 77% of respondents said the disconnect between IT and business units results in significant costs. This disconnect hasn’t miraculously disappeared in recent months, and the stakes for addressing this gap have only grown.

As the report authors write, “The issues are even deeper than simply getting IT and business units on the same page. The goal is to get everyone thinking about how technology initiatives tie directly to the things that matter to the organization as a whole."

IT leaders are clear on the need to fix this. Some 70% of respondents feel that IT teams want to improve collaboration with business units, but say other priorities get in the way.

In general, teams will collect and track data based in large part on how their performance will ultimately be evaluated. The problem is that business value isn’t really being measured concretely. This is true not just for IT, but for business teams as well. What data to collect and how to track and report on business value are still a mystery.

Assumption #3. Decision Making Will Be Increasingly Data Driven

The survey found that 87% of respondents felt that teams can improve their decision making by using artificial intelligence. Roughly the same number said that using AI more effectively would be a significant competitive advantage for their organization.

Here again, the takeaways from this survey have only grown more salient. If recent months have taught us anything, it’s that actionable intelligence and data-driven decision making are more critical than ever. In markets that continue have higher stakes and more dynamic disruption, guesswork and ad hoc, informal decision-making workflows continue to present increasing business risk.

Leveraging AI and machine learning technologies will become the new normal for decision making. Data-driven insights will inform optimized strategies, whether leaders are looking to devise new ways to attract new customers, identify new product offerings, or capture new revenue streams. Ultimately, those that have the best AI and machine learning will win. Those that don’t will be left behind.

Assumption #4. BizOps Will Be a Key Digital Transformation Framework Moving Forward

The realities outlined above show no signs of abating, and they’re all are driving the increased need for BizOps. BizOps is a data-driven framework for decision making. Through this discipline, teams can connect IT departments with business functions, and ultimately align technology investments to business outcomes. More than ever, these efforts represent a critical digital transformation framework for enterprises.

Given these factors, it’s no surprise that the move to BizOps adoption is so widespread. The survey found that 86% of executives indicated that BizOps would be beneficial to their organizations. Plus, 89% of executives also said that BizOps could significantly improve decision-making by enhancing collaboration between IT and business teams.

As the report authors explained, “The need for successful digital transformation and a desire to move faster are challenging companies to keep up the pace of IT development without losing sight of the outcomes they want to achieve. BizOps can provide a decision-making framework that helps companies adapt to the new reality in front of them and pivot their digital transformation initiatives in ways that will create new data streams in a time of unprecedented change.”

1. Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, in association with Broadcom, “BizOps: Connecting IT to Business Outcomes,” June 2020, URL/Link: https://learn.broadcom.com/hubfs/BizOps.Com/Resources/HBR%20BizOps%20Connecting%20IT%20to%20Business%20Outcomes%20Final.pdf