Failing Fast: The Quickest Route to Digital Transformation

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Failing Fast: The Quickest Route to Digital Transformation

Speed, agility, and innovation—these are the hallmarks for success in the digital era. What’s less proven is the “fail fast” concept, which encourages exploration by floating trial balloons quickly, then allowing ideas to fail if they don’t help drive positive business outcomes. Using this approach, failure becomes a stepping-stone for success—allowing teams to iterate quickly, learn from mistakes, and triage ideas in rapid succession, much like a startup.
Not too long ago, a failed IT project could be catastrophic, resulting in missed delivery targets, productivity drop-offs, even lost revenue. It’s no wonder that IT teams remain a bit gun-shy about adopting a fail-fast approach to business given that their job stability likely depends on their success. The IDG Cloud Futurecast survey found that just 15% of IT directors believe risk-taking is critical to transforming products and services.
C-level executives, by comparison, are far more bullish on the advantages of fail-fast techniques, in part, no doubt, because their jobs don’t directly hang in the balance. According to the IDG survey, 29% recognize the ability to fail fast as a key enabler for revenue-driving strategies compared with only 17% of vice presidents and general managers.
These forward-thinking leaders understand that the cloud is the engine behind creating an iterative, agile mindset across the entire organization. The cloud allows teams to test-drive many small innovations without the traditional risk of a major setback. A cloud-based, fail-fast approach removes technology constraints and allows organizations to explore new ideas constantly, versus one or two ideas annually.

AI Increases The Pace

Advances in big data analytics and artificial intelligence promise to take fail-fast strategies to entirely new heights, delivering real-time monitoring and robust data access capabilities that can detect failure almost instantaneously.
The cloud’s ability to drive innovation and mitigate risk are also central to a fail-fast mentality. Twenty-eight percent of IDG survey respondents say the cloud is essential for reinventing their businesses. Perhaps more important, 25% of respondents say the cloud’s ability to support testing product concepts in early stages with greater accuracy is a key asset. Another 21% say exploratory, fail-fast methods can help minimize the risk associated with continuous innovation. These percentages, while relatively low, signal an important shift in thinking: The cloud is no longer just a cost-saver, but an innovation engine.
For many organizations, enhancing customer experience is the leading priority for success in the digital era. And applying a fail-fast methodology may be the secret sauce. Organizations emphasizing the cloud for customer engagement strategies are far more likely to embrace fail-fast capabilities—32% of survey respondents, compared with companies using cloud to optimize operations (19%), empower employees (17%), or transform products (15%). Experimenting with new products and services using the fail-fast method may give these leaders a leg up on their competitors.
For all the negative connotations, fast failure in the digital era may be just the right recipe for digital transformation success.

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