3 Highlights from DXWorldExpo 2018

Several leaders from Synchrony Systems attended CloudExpo / DXWorldExpo New York on November 12-13, 2018. The two days were packed with 20+ keynotes, 200+ breakout sessions, and 150+ exhibitors sharing the latest in the world of Cloud Computing, DevOps, FinTech, Digital Transformation, and more.

A stat we found sobering but not surprising is that 88% of Fortune 500 companies from a generation ago are now out of business. While there are many factors that can contribute to the fall of a company, we believe an important one is an inability to evolve the business. Companies can be held back by dated business models, irrelevant products or services, and/or aging technology. The world is changing at rates never seen before; to survive, companies must continuously adapt.

While we walked away with many new insights, we would like to share three highlights from sessions at DXWorld that resonated with us.

1) “Digital Transformation” has become an umbrella buzzword, but real challenges are beneath the hype.

The term “digital transformation” (DX) is being used by everyone for just about any company initiative that involves technology, the web, eCommerce, software, or even customer experience. While the term has certainly turned into a buzzword with a lot of hype, the transition to a more connected, digital world is real and comes with real challenges.

In his opening keynote, Four Essentials To Become DX Hero Status Now, Jonathan Hoppe, Co-Founder and CTO of Total Uptime Technologies, shared that beyond the hype, digital transformation initiatives are infusing IT budgets with critical investment for technology. This is shifting the IT organization from a cost center/center of efficiency to one that is strategic for revenue growth. CIOs are working with the new reality of cloud, mobile-first, and digital initiatives across all areas of their businesses. What’s more, top IT talent wants to work on DX initiatives or will look for opportunities elsewhere.

Besides the business promises of DX and the pressure from IT talent, technical debt is a major challenge for many CIOs. In-house legacy applications built on antiquated programming languages and platforms can hold the business back from being digitally enabled.

Jonathan said the key to success for DX transformation is to start small. Rather than tackle a large transformational initiative with many potential fail points, he suggested picking ones that have less risk and can give the team early wins to build momentum.

We couldn’t agree more. We often advise IT leaders to investigate modernization solutions that can migrate the application to the desired platform/language with 100% equivalency, rather than re-writing a business-critical application from scratch. This path saves not only money but critical time in our new, fast-paced digital world.

2) Cognitive enterprises are on the horizon, and they require a whole new tech architecture.

IBM Fellow, CTO, and cloud expert Shankar Kalyana gave a compelling presentation on The Path to Hybrid Digital Transformation. He talked about the essential attributes to enable business growth and innovation on the cloud, why existing data sources are so critical to success, and how DevOps and Containers can deliver new services based on cognitive, machine learning, and IoT. He believes that the rise in cloud-enabled exponential technologies is teeing up another era of business architecture change.

To realize the cognitive enterprise, which is the enterprise of the future, he said, businesses must embrace the following key characteristics:

  • AI-infused, cloud-enabled business platforms
  • Automation, self-healing by design
  • Experience-centered design
  • Fit-for-mission skills
  • Product management philosophy
  • Agile DevOps, test-driven experimentation culture
  • Hybrid, multi-cloud operating model and architecture
  • Multi-speed, multi-modal flexibility
  • Everything as a service
  • Glo-Cal reach
  • Containers as a critical technical strategy
  • Agile architecture

However, today’s reality is that a majority of the data (80%) still lives in the enterprise, not in the cloud. What’s more, all CTOs and CIOs deal with legacy systems and technology. The goal is to embrace future technologies while pulling legacy forward, to work together beautifully from an end-consumer/customer experience point. This requires a holistic approach to transformation.

We also see our clients balancing the three objectives shown above: optimizing IT, adding cloud service to existing applications, and building new applications on cloud-native platforms. Our job at Synchrony is to help our clients move in the direction of modern architecture while mitigating risk to business operations.

3) We can learn a lot about business transformation from Amazon

Many different speakers used Amazon as a case study. Perhaps the most comprehensive session was Digital Transformation and Disruption, Amazon Style – What You Can Learn by Chris Kocher, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Grey Heron venture consulting. He offered an interesting insight into the new markets and industries that Amazon is disrupting, many of which thought they were safe but now are in danger of being “Amazoned.”

His session examined how Amazon creates new value with vertical and horizontal integration, Value Creation of new categories, Value Migration into adjacent categories and markets, and why they excel with their Value Delivery System.

He also gave examples of how Amazon “zigs when others zag.” They launched a 70-page printed toy catalog for the 2018 holidays, for example, which is reminiscent of the Sears and Toys “R” Us catalogs popular in years past.

He also shared some critical success factors in digital transformation, in the light of the Amazon case study. They are:

  • Align with customer value – not your technology or internal systems
  • Focus on business outcomes – rethink how you deliver value
  • Leverage the right ecosystems – partner, partner, partner
  • See business model innovation – not just product
  • Define your monetization strategy – not just technology vision
  • Bust internal, functional silos – build customer-focused organizations

Now the Hard Part: Knowledge into Practice

Like many attendees, we walked away with lots to think about for our own business, as well as how we can continue to help our clients along their technology modernization journeys. What did you walk away with? Tweet us @SynchronySys.

Thanks to @CloudExpo and @DXWorldExpo for a great event.