I’m happy to report a major milestone.

The final chapter of the Digital Business Playbook went live today.

It’s the Tools and technology chapter, which has been an absolute beast of a research project. After all, where do you start outlining all of the tools and technologies you need to transform your business to become truly digital? To digitize your business strategy?

The short answer is you don’t.

In most of our research for the Digital Business Transformation Playbook we’ve concentrated on finding and outlining best practice examples of traditional firms that are transforming to embed digital into the heart of their business strategy. As one of our Research Directors so rightly pointed out early in this research, “horses don’t like stories about unicorns”. It’s not so helpful for us to tell you “hey, just copy Amazon” when you run a retail bank with a chain of a thousand branches around the world.

But in this instance we do need to hunt for unicorns.

Because the unicorns are nailing it.

Firms like Amazon, eBay or Spotify manage digital technology on the massive scale, yet retain a high level of innovation and agility. So what sets them and other digital masters, apart from digital dinosaurs in their relationship to technology? What can we learn from how they plan, manage and invest in technology? What we found was:

  • Getting Digital Business Technology Right Is a Cultural, Not A Technical Problem. Your digital business transformation will demand many changes to your technology stack, but that’s not the biggest challenge. The real trick in embracing agility is in changing your firm’s culture.
  • Digital Masters Re-engineer How They Design, Develop And Deliver Innovation. Digital business success demands that firms embrace a BT agenda, building on next-gen software foundations to deliver faster product development with a culture of continuous improvement rather than big-bang change.
  • Digital Business Mandates Collaboration. More than ever before, the possibilities and limitations of technology both fuel and constrain digital business design. eBusiness executives must build tight collaborations with both customer experience and technology management colleagues if they are to succeed.

An array of new techniques apply here. Adaptive planning, Design Thinking, iterative development, rapid prototyping, API enabled architectures (which we deep dive into in a separate brief), DevOps and more. And there are numerous examples of traditional firms across a range of industries, like Intercontinental Hotel Group, Nationwide Mutual, Swisscom and Virgin Atlantic, that are embracing cutting edge techniques to accelerate their digital business transformations.

So horses, how do you feel about unicorns now?