Is “Digital Transformation” a top priority at your company?  Every business I talk with has a Digital Transformation initiative that is critical to their future success:

  • delivering new value to customers,
  • new business models,
  • new operating practices,
  • smart connected products,
  • intelligent factories,
  • and the list goes on and on…

All aspects of their strategy rely on fundamentally changing the way the business operates… Then they begin talking with me about enterprise software to support these initiatives, and all they want to discuss is what comes “Out-of-the-Box” (OOTB).

Think about that for a moment…

Companies all over the world are feverishly working to not just “change” their business, but to “transform” it.  They know they have to do things completely differently to compete in the future and avoid disruption.  Yet they only want Out-of-the-Box software.

How could yesterday’s hard-coded OOTB software possibly fit/match/support tomorrow’s Digital Processes?

It can’t.  And never will.


Everyone knows that tomorrow’s Digital Processes don’t exist today.  They’re not defined. The requirements for them aren’t even fully known yet.  You’re doing a Digital Transformation to rethink everything.

What does that mean?

At least one thing for sure.  It means that No matter what system/solution you chose to support your Digitalization initiative, customization will be required.  It’s unavoidable.  As new Digital Processes are identified and implemented you will have to customize whatever enterprise solutions you use to automate those processes.  

Period.  End of Story.

Given this Fact, what are the implications?

It changes the evaluation criteria you use for software solutions that support your Digital Transformation initiatives. Historically, long lists of Features & Functions were used to evaluate enterprise software.  Now, there are new criteria, and the most important is Flexibility.

OOTB features & functions will quickly become problematic without the ability to easily customize and continually adapt your solution as new processes emerge.

Flexibility is your key to being able to handle whatever comes next.  To support those new Digital Processes you need to quickly change your enterprise software application’s data models, business rules, forms/screens, workflows and more.  You need to do all this without the complex programming & compiling that’s required with conventional enterprise systems; it takes too long, is unsustainable and creates instant legacy because you can’t take updates/upgrade – more on that in a future post.

Oh BTW as soon as you’re done adapting, changing, customizing… there will be another disruption around the corner that will force your business to transform again… and again… and again… the need to transform is here to stay.  It will never end.

Conditions are accelerating.  Every company has to be gaining greater and greater agility.  The speed of business is moving too fast to lock down processes and leave them stagnant for years. You’ve got to be able to change more quickly tomorrow than today… which makes Flexibility in your enterprise solutions and platforms the most important critical new evaluation criteria.

Will cover some of the other new criteria in follow-up posts.

So what’s your take?  Do hard-coded bells + whistles still matter Most?  Or is the dynamic nature of business making Flexibility the new “must have” capability?

Check out some of my previous posts for more thoughts on this and related topics.