Are budgets really the “top barrier” to digital transformation . . . really?

Posted on June 23, 2022


EDITOR’S NOTE: I recently commented on a LinkedIn post by Lubos L. in which he refers to an article by Deloitte’s Marcus Kutzner suggesting that “Budgets are the top barrier to digital transformation for many organizations.” Sure, they are very smart people who clearly know their stuff, but I thought, hey, why not throw my hat of opinion into the ring anyway. Today’s post is that proverbial hat suggesting that budget isn’t always about money – it is sometimes about investing time and effort.

When I entered the high-tech world more than 40 years ago, the Apple II had just been introduced a couple of years earlier for a tidy sum of $13K. Included in this princely fee were a phosphorus green screen monitor and a basic dot matrix printer with less computing power than today’s dollar store calculator.

The spreadsheet Visicalc was the game-changing software back then, which was the first real “universal” business solution software – I think spreadsheets are still in use today 😉

Of course, company IT departments called the personal computer a “passing fad” that would never catch on. Now that is what I call obstacles. Oh yes, and the cloud was still something you saw in the sky.

Even with advancements in tech from the 286 to the 386, word processing software and the eventual introduction of the Apple Lisa – followed by the Mac, and then by Windows – well, you see where I am going here. Beyond the nascent use of networking software – remember Novell and Waterloo Port, the PC was still pretty much an outlier.

Then the ERP era hit with multi, multi-million dollar price tags. How did that work out for procurement? I remember in the late 90s talking to an Oracle rep about linking their ERP to a PC network. Their response – we don’t even get out of bed in the morning for less than $1 million.

My point in this meandering discourse is that with the infinite power of today’s low-cost entry SaaS solutions that can be up and running within weeks, if not days, budget is not the problem. At least not regarding the technology.

The real obstacle has less to do with the technology and more with the will on the part of leadership to create a “digital ready” culture. When I say digital-ready, I am talking about making the “investment” in stimulating communication and fostering collaboration across the enterprise and beyond with all stakeholders beginning with data cleansing and governance.

I guess I am saying that we have come a long way from flashing lights and whirring 10MB hard drives with 256K cache. The technology has done its job and evolved to the point of ubiquitous affordability and ease of use. Now it’s our turn to do our part – and procurement can’t do it alone.

Posted in: Commentary