Digital transformation has been a hot topic for decades, but it is only in recent years that we have witnessed a significant shift in mindset that is increasing the criticality of these efforts for enterprises. Accelerated, in part, by the rise of remote work and dispersed teams, this mindset shift recognizes that while technology is tactical, outcomes are transformative.

What do I mean by this?

Historically, leaders prepared for a digital transformation by evaluating their technology needs, then searching for specific technology solutions. The result was often a tech stack that was cobbled together to try to achieve the company’s objectives. Increasingly, what I hear today from the most forward-thinking executives is a focus on achieving a specific outcome, not a request for a product or a response to external pressures. This is a vital shift in thinking that is pushing enterprises to undergo digital transformations that are more impactful, have greater long-term relevance and create greater business value.

Trusted advisors

With this outcome-focused approach, leaders are engaging with technology vendors as trusted advisors and partners in their digital transformations. Frequently, they have a clear problem statement and a desired outcome, but need help untangling the solution. Increasingly, those early conversations are started with, “Here is what we need to achieve, so help us understand how to get there.”

For example, instead of undergoing a search for a CI/CD product, a customer may be seeking a solution that will create greater efficiency in their software delivery process through a reduction in build and development time. We have also heard from companies who have to pull entire development teams away from revenue generating work for long periods throughout the year in order to manage compliance and audit requirements. They know this ‘compliance tax’ negatively impacts morale among developers and reduces business efficiency, so they are looking for a solution that will allow them to keep teams focused on their primary objective while still meeting compliance requirements.

Essentially, customers are increasingly coming to us with pain points and a desired outcome, instead of shopping for siloed, off-the-shelf products that don’t fully meet their needs. This shift in approach is allowing customers to achieve better business outcomes and having a material impact on the efficacy of the technology available in the market. It’s a win-win.

Increasing business value

This product-to-outcome shift is resulting in digital transformations that are more efficient, more impactful and more flexible. What we have seen at CloudBees is that customers who embark on the journey with this approach are able to better align their technology solutions with their needs because their problem statement and goals are more comprehensive and clearly defined at the outset. And, they are achieving their desired outcomes with greater speed and less friction.

Further, with this mindset, the solutions are more likely to address challenges faced at all levels of the enterprise. For example, within one company the CxO may be concerned with the topline problem of meeting delivery deadlines, managers may be concerned about how decisions made elsewhere in the organization impact their ability to resource the efforts to meet those delivery deadlines, and developers may be frustrated that the solutions they are given are difficult to use and don’t address their true needs. Understanding these challenges and the outcomes needed to address the problems at all levels of the organization is vital to creating a solution that is fit for purpose.

As a result of outcomes-based thinking, companies are undergoing digital transformations that make material improvements to how the company operates at every level and have greater business value, creating real results for the company’s bottom line. For instance, we’ve seen enterprises increase the number of features they deploy into production each month by 2.5x, accelerate their software bug fixes from 30 minutes to just two minutes, and reduce the amount of time needed to restore service following an incident by 90%. These types of results are truly transformative for a company’s ability to compete and bring software to market quickly.

Impacts on the industry

This product-to-outcome shift has also resulted in improvements for the software delivery industry overall. With enterprises working alongside trusted technology partners to build the needed solutions, the technology that is reaching the market is better fit for the challenges enterprises face today and prepares them for those they will face in the future.

We have seen this in our own work building out value stream management (VSM) capabilities. By working with some of the world’s most respected enterprises to tackle the real problems they face with software delivery, we have built better features for the VSM use cases that provide customers with greater visibility into the value stream. This is a multiplier for the market overall because better off-the-shelf technology will be released to the market for smaller companies to benefit from in the future.

Ultimately, the executives who have adopted this product-to-outcome mindset shift deserve praise. They are key players in their industries and are powering more impactful digital transformations for their companies, which ultimately benefits all of us. And for those leaders who are preparing for or rethinking their digital transformation efforts, it’s time to adopt this new holistic mindset in order to deliver better digital experiences for customers and more valuable software delivery processes.