How do we get to a place where we are delivering ‘Unconstrained IT’ to our business is something that bothers me. To some degree its this that keeps me awake at night the most at the moment, I want to be able to offer our business a shared solution to their business problems and lots of things stop us from doing that as the normal ‘operating model’.

We talk of data deficiency and complexity as being the biggest and clearest opportunity for us if we can ‘fix’ what’s wrong and yet we don’t really know what needs to be done to do this yet, we are, to some degree, fishing with a shotgun. The data modernisation strategy being created in the data office here at DWP is really the next big landmark for us, once its there then we need to go ‘hell for leather’ to implement it. Delivering access to data that allows colleagues and customers to get to information and insight will help remove even more of that constraint that gets in the way of big transformation.

At DWP we talk about the Strategic Reference Architecture (SRA) and I love the common language this has created for us all. The understanding of what it is needs to be readdressed a little as the three letters mean all things to all ‘men’ right now, I don’t see that as a bad thing just that a run back around to ensure we are all pointing in the same direction on this can’t hurt and certainly will put it back on everyone’s roadmap for the future as we head into new discussions about how we deliver in a world where digital is considered the foundation of all we do.

Having our first Digital Board last week really shone a light on all things for the future and gave the digital leadership team the opportunity to come together and really deliver clarity around the width of all that we are trying to achieve. All of the nondigital people at the board commented on how much there is on the plan and how at last they can see the full plan more easily now we have a single place where this comes together. In many ways this is my attempt to get us to ‘Unconstrained IT’ as one of our business constraints is knowing what the art of the possible actually is.

There was a phrase used by the Enterprise Architecture team at my previous role, ‘the high water mark of complexity’. I loved this, we almost used to giggle every time it got said it was such a catchphrase. The SRA and the direction of travel that we are on has a very bold ambition of removing that complexity not just for us as digital professionals but for the whole business, this is a way of assuring everyone why we are doing what we are doing we are now able to bring a focus on the removal of complexity and really engage with this at the core of what we do.

The delivery of composable digital solutions that are created to try to remove customer and colleague friction from their interactions with the systems that we operate is a bold ambition and comes with a renewed focus on the outcomes we need to deliver. The SRA is in some ways the definition of composable architecture which in retail had become the ‘buzz’ word and now is the finish line we are all striving for.

How we engage with our business on the removal of complexity will be a big part of where we go to next. A platform business approach may be what we need to put in place, a way we connect with our future through clarity on the desired outcomes for everyone, outcomes released by not just digital change and innovation but the redefinition of how we do ‘business’, how we engage with our customers and make it as easy as possible for colleagues to deliver. What do we mean by a platform business? For me in this case its not the technology platform I am describing but the multi-disciplinary team that needs to be engaged to create transformation. We have written a lot about the Product Mindset and putting the customer experience at the heart of what we do, maybe the phrase platform business is a way to describe this so we can all move in unison.

If I take all the phrases and titles, we have given ‘things’ in recent weeks and months I wonder if I can now describe how this all hangs together. Here goes…

Connecting with our future allows us to focus on outcomes that colleagues are trying to create and life events that customers need help with. The transformation we are trying to achieve can only be done if we have a business transformation platform that ensures we consider whether we want to substitute, augment, modify or redefine the services we are here to deliver. We need to ensure that the future we offer is one grounded in the customer experience we are trying to create and in conjunction with the service owners of each element. As we move through transformation, digital needs to work with our business at every juncture to ensure that the nature of our solutions are composable and reusable. By having a shared product mind set and definition digital transformation will become something that the whole of DWP is trying to achieve.

By using the SAMR ladder (Substitute, Augment, Modify or Redefine) in all engagements we will be able to size each change that make up the pieces of the whole transformation more easily and truly offer unconstrained IT, well that’s the plan!