On the Amalfi Coast in Italy is the spectacular \u201cSentiero Degli Dei,\u201d the Path of Gods. It provides a stunning scene. I have been lucky enough to stand there and take it in. However, I recall that to my left there was a steep drop of several hundred meters to the sea \u2013 with nothing in between.\n\nWhy am I telling about my trip to Italy? Because it made me realize that yes, sometimes it is wonderful to go freely, without limitations or assistance and gain a spectacular view, but guardrails can help to stay on the right path.\n\nIn a business context, transformation principles present guardrails that help guide the organization about decisions and behaviour, especially in VUCA times like these. These principles provide a particular direction for the reasoning and execution of all activities of an enterprise towards data-first. Data-first because anything, whether a human, a machine, or a thing, is constantly generating data in an era in which computing and connectivity are ubiquitous. And the right leverage of this data enables insights that unlock real business value and the full potential of organizations.\n\nDigital is now a permanent yet dynamic fixture in our world, with IDC predicting direct digital transformation investments will increase to 55% of all ICT investments by the end of 2024 2. Organizations can expect to see increasing investments returning greater value to the business and ultimately their customers.\n\nMany customers have expressed their aspiration to become data-first digital enterprises, by leveraging the right guardrails to help their organization demarcate their journey and keep them from going off the path.\n\nLet me share a real example from a recent meeting with a customer in the telecommunications (telco) industry. One might argue the telco industry has already been an \u201conline\u201d industry compared to many other verticals where the digitalization has just started taking off with the pandemic. It is estimated that the amount of data being created daily is equivalent to 200 million DVDs per day (what are DVDs?!), according to the World Economic Forum. With this amount of data being triggered through connected objects, areas, and individuals, we see telco providers making significant shifts in their business models towards pervasive communication and entertainment platforms in addition to linked telco services.\n\nWith this customer, we identified the following three transformation principles informing all their digital outcomes and guiding their initiatives\u2019 realization:\n\nSustainability\n\nAlmost every HPE customer has to contribute to their organization\u2019s Sustainable Development Goals. Indeed, the current transformation wave is recognized and driven as a twin evolution of becoming a more digital and concurrently more sustainable business. In this example, the customer articulated three major components of their principal sustainability goals: Reducing CO2 emissions in production and usage of products, a green network, and ESG reporting.\n\nHere the emission reduction effort reaches from scope 1 (e.g., production of network components) to scope 3 (usage of products) emissions according to the GHG protocol. In fact, this principle also includes the data-first aspiration directly: how and where is what data stored and analysed to drive insights and business and ultimately customer value? Embracing data truths strongly informs how to execute on this aspiration while reducing emissions and reporting responsibly. While data centers continue to play a role in customers\u2019 recognition that the future will be hybrid, centers of data \u2013 connected through a green network \u2013 increasingly gain more importance.\n\nSovereignty\n\nAlthough sovereignty could also be seen as part of this principle, using it as a transformation principle itself has compelling implications. Digital sovereignty means having state-of-the-art capabilities in key technologies, services, and platforms, while also having the ability to freely and responsibly choose between one\u2019s own solutions and sustainable options from trusted global partners to act autonomously in an ecosystem. Thus, it describes the intersection between dependency and autarky; neither someone else is deciding the future path nor does the organization do everything themselves. In this exemplary case, on the one hand the customer is aiming to scale and expand their own platform business without unilateral control while evolving as openly as possible, offering sovereignty for their ecosystem. On the other hand, this customer also strives for cooperation and involvement in the European sovereign cloud initiative Gaia-X in view of omnipresent collaborations with one or multiple hyperscalers and their strong services \u2013 which also entails considerable power regarding the data.\n\nThe transition to servicizing\n\nServicizing \u2013 or servitization \u2013 presents the shift from offering products to providing services. Exchanging the words \u201coffering\u201d and \u201cproviding\u201d to \u201cconsuming,\u201d we shift the focus from the selling to the buying cycle while the core definition remains the same. This may involve the entire replacement of former products through services (e.g., DVDs vs. Netflix) as well as the enrichment of products through the integration of services (e.g., receiver or smart TV).\n\nAs an advanced enterprise offering a variety of products and services in the telecommunication and entertainment field, the customer was eager to further evolve their service business models and provision methods to become a provider of platform and ecosystem services, and potentially data-driven services in the future. With additional offerings such as asset lifecycle services (similar to HPE\u2019s service offering for IT assets), servicizing also drives circularity and ultimately sustainability.\n\nIn a nutshell, digital technologies can:\n\nOf course, these three principles are not exclusive in guiding a data-first transformation and keeping the organization\u2019s journey \u2013 and investments \u2013 on path. Other customers have emphasized different guardrails for their transformation, such as ethics, resilience, and ecosystem thinking. Undoubtedly, these guardrails and their prominence can vary and change depending on the digital aspiration of an organization and its maturity in realizing a digital business.\n\nLearn how to better address your principles in your digital execution and frame them into ongoing activities and planned initiatives. Engage with a Digital Advisor from HPE to get started.\n\n2 https:\/\/www.idc.com\/getdoc.jsp?containerId=US47115521 https:\/\/itbrief.co.nz\/story\/idc-over-half-of-all-ict-investment-will-be-linked-to-digital-transformation\n\n____________________________________\n\nAbout Yara-Yasemin Schuetz \n\nYara-Yasemin Schuetz is a Digital Advisor at HPE. She supports organizations in their digital transformation journey, from strategizing to realizing the full value of leveraging digital technologies, in order to advance the way people live and work. Fluent in four languages, she uses those linguistic skills to good use to create a shared language between business outcomes and IT requirements. Her consulting approach to empowering organizations to unlock their full digital ambition embodies having participants step out of their comfort zone for greater collaboration. She holds an MSc in Digital Business Management from the University of Reutlingen, recently led an empirical study on digital strategy patterns.