Rudy Puryear: Why IT Is Digital's Achilles' Heel



Companies that fail to transform their legacy IT systems alongside their new digital capabilities risk running into a wall. Rudy Puryear, leader of Bain's Global Information Technology practice, shares four actions that organizations can take to reboot IT and achieve full potential in digital.

Read the Bain Brief: IT—Digital's Achilles' Heel

Read the transcript below.

RUDY PURYEAR: I think we all realize that the world is increasingly digital. Most companies are taking a wide range of actions in order to compete more effectively in a digital world and ultimately to win in digital. But in the process, many are discovering an interesting dichotomy, and that is that quick hits in digital are relatively easy, but full potential in digital is actually really tough.

Quick hits in digital could be standing up an e-commerce site or building a front-end digital app. But full potential, which is very hard, requires the seamless integration from the front-end digital apps all the way back through the old, dull, boring legacy environment. And in most companies, IT is not ready for digital.

The systems aren't ready to interface with the new digital solutions. The data is not ready to be accessed by the digital apps. The skills are not ready to work in a digital world.

And the operating models certainly aren't ready to move at the speed of digital. Bain & Company is working with a number of organizations to solve this problem. We're helping them transform or reboot their IT capability to get ready to win in digital. Rebooting the IT capability is a function of four actions.

The first is changing the way work gets done, embracing concepts like Agile and DevOps. Second is selectively modernizing a significant amount of the legacy systems and data to get them ready for a digital world. Third is embracing adaptive architectures that increase the probability that the pieces of this very complex puzzle will fit together effectively.

Lastly, and maybe most importantly, is crafting a journey that's both affordable and achievable. Organizations that don't reboot or transform their IT capability to get ready to win in digital risk running into an IT wall. And in fact, in those companies, IT could end up becoming digital's Achilles heel.

Read the Bain Brief: IT—Digital's Achilles' Heel