In this article

Digital leaders that create true partnerships between business and technology stakeholders and treat IT modernization and digital transformation as efforts that occur simultaneously — not one after the other — are more likely to optimize ROI of digital transformation initiatives.

Savvy leaders understand the importance of the symbiotic relationship between digital transformation and IT modernization.  But for decades, the idea of IT serving the business was an afterthought. Likewise, business leaders were making critical decisions without any input from IT. The result? Loads of technology debt and abandoned business plans.  

History is a great teacher, but it's also prone to repeating itself. We're already seeing the need for accelerated transformation tempting organizations into implementing point solutions that can lead to a Frankensteining of tools that inevitably ends in technical debt and crushes progress. 

Transformation is about efficiency, agility and adopting fresh thinking to tap into new market or revenue streams. Or, better yet, both.   

How do you do it? To start, take note of how other successful transformational leaders drive success. Then, you'll need to start aligning the business and IT interests to establish priorities, vision and outcomes

But let's get more tactical with the strategies transformation leaders can use to align business and technology to more fluidly facilitate IT modernization and digital transformation in unison.  

Build trust 

Aligning business and technology leaders around a unified view of value is key to business transformation. Critical to that effort is trust. 

Among other benefits, teams that operate from a foundation of trust, according to Patrick Lencioni's The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, are:  

  • Comfortable asking for help, admitting mistakes and limitations and taking risks offering feedback
  • Avoid wasting time talking about the wrong issues and revisiting the same topics over and over again because of lack of buy-in
  • Make higher quality decisions and accomplish more in less time and fewer resources
  • Align the team around common objectives

Trust stems from being vulnerable and empathetic with others. Listening to understand the goals, needs and challenges of the business or IT can help establish a trusting relationship that will work to your benefit the rest of the way.  

Think iteratively  

Aligned teams that trust each other and share goals also benefit from sharing wins. The more wins, the more validated the relationship. The more validated the relationship, the more momentum gained to continue toward transformation.  

Consider the Flywheel effect from another favorite business book of ours (Good to Great by Jim Collins): "No matter how dramatic the end result, good-to-great transformations never happen in one fell swoop … Rather, the process resembles relentlessly pushing a giant, heavy flywheel, turn upon turn, building momentum until a point of breakthrough, and beyond." 

Iterative wins and organizational momentum also help justify future investment in IT modernization and digital transformation to boards and other stakeholders. 

Embrace change 

Digital transformation impacts the entire organization. Processes that are ingrained in the business may need to be abandoned. Teams may need to be restructured. Mistakes may be made along the way. Addressing challenges or setbacks can be a complex process, but the key to success is understanding and preparing for the challenges that inevitably lie ahead. 

An agile approach affords checkpoints for both IT and business stakeholders to evaluate and determine if they are adequately supporting and enabling each other. Then collectively, transformation leaders can assess whether the path taken is appropriate or needs updating. 

Act relentlessly  

As soon as you believe you are transformed, you are in a state of stagnation and risk being disrupted by the same market forces or competitors that compelled you to change quickly in the first place.  

Digital transformation is not about an end state. It's about a never-ending state. Your leadership teams should be relentless about developing pragmatic roadmaps that prioritize the digital tools that provide the highest impact to the business without creating a stumbling block for future scalability. 


Organizations undergoing or considering digital transformation were already behind the proverbial eight ball — a bevy of statistics show most of these efforts fail to deliver desired outcomes or stall completely. Going faster only adds barriers and lowers the odds of success.  

Traditional methods of transformation that treat IT modernization and business transformation separately aren't able to keep up. 

Aligning business and technology stakeholders to unify IT modernization and digital transformation efforts will allow your company to swiftly meet the needs of your employees and customers and keep you resilient to disruption moving forward. 

Working collaboratively almost always yields new insights and best practices. Drop a comment below about what strategies you are using to avoid disruption during digital transformation.