Interview: Jason Bloomberg, Intellyx on the Tricky Balance of Optimization and Innovation

We discuss Agile Digital Transformation, Optimization vs Innovation trade-off, best innovations of 2014, trends, advice and more.

jason-bloombergJason Bloomberg is the leading industry analyst and expert on achieving agile digital transformation by architecting business agility in the enterprise. He writes for Forbes, Wired, and his biweekly newsletter, the Cortex. As president of Intellyx, he advises business executives on their digital transformation initiatives, trains architecture teams on Agile Architecture, and helps technology vendors and service providers communicate their agility stories. His latest book is The Agile Architecture Revolution (Wiley, 2013).

He has published over 500 articles, spoken at over 300 conferences, Webinars, and other events, and has been quoted in the press over 1,400 times as the leading expert on agile approaches to architecture in the enterprise.

Here is my interview with him:

Anmol Rajpurohit Q1. What does Intellyx do? How do you define Agile Digital Transformation?

Jason Bloomberg: intellyx-logoIntellyx is the first and only industry analysis, advisory, and training firm focused on agile digital transformation. Intellyx advises companies on their digital transformation initiatives and helps vendors communicate their agility stories.

Here’s how we define agile digital transformation:

Digital -- Customer preferences and behavior drive enterprise technology decisions

Transformation -- Internal organizational change is necessary to maintain focus on the customer in today’s digital world

Agile -- Organizations must capitalize on disruption to achieve greater innovativeness and resilience in the face of digital transformation priorities.

AR: Q2. Optimization is a key goal in almost every industry. Why do you believe that the pursuit for "better-faster-cheaper" is driving us away from innovation?

JB: Fundamentally, innovation requires disruption, and disruption requires risk. Efforts to optimize on standard business metrics (profitability, cost reduction, shareholder value, etc.) seek to avoid disruption. In contrast, the most innovative organizations embrace disruption, and leverage it to drive the creative process so essential for innovation.
AR: Q3. Being data-driven has unique advantages for optimization. Does it have any advantage for boosting innovation?

balanceJB: Organizations must be able to balance optimization and innovation. Too much optimization and you won’t be able to deal with disruptions in the market, but innovation without optimization is nothing but a crap shoot. Big data analytics can be an important tool for understanding this balance, when used to facilitate an inherently iterative approach as part of an agile enterprise architecture.

AR: Q4. What are your recommendations on dealing with the optimization vs. innovation trade-off?

JB: To facilitate innovation, free people from traditional management hierarchies and let them self-organize. Give them broad goals and the tools they need to be successful, and get out of their way.

AR: Q5. Which of the innovations in 2014 did you find the most disruptive?

JB: There are many candidates for this question – containers in particular come to business-agilitymind – but it’s not clear whether containers are truly disruptive or simply overhyped. Instead, I’ll choose an area of innovation that is very low on hype but high on potential disruptiveness: a category I call the “business agility platform.” These platforms support a higher level of abstraction for building inherently flexible software that deals with change in real-time. Expect to see much more about these platforms in 2015.

AR: Q6. What key trends will drive the growth of Big Data industry for the next 2-3 years? What factors will play a critical role in the success of Big Data projects?

JB: So far the big wins for truly Big Data have been localized to particular industries and problem areas – social media trend analysis, scientific areas like genomics, or the Industrial Internet, for example. I think the most important trend will be how many different types of organizations will find many new and innovative uses for Big Data, well beyond the familiar use cases we see today.

AR: Q7. What is the best advice you have got in your career?

squidwardJB: Squidward’s Law. You know Squidward, Spongebob Squarepants’ morose nemesis? In one episode he said something like “to be successful in business, sell something people want at a price they’re willing to pay.” That’s all there is to it. Thanks, Squidward!

AR: Q8. Which book did you read recently and liked? What keeps you busy when you are away from work? the-last-dark

JB: For fun I read science fiction and fantasy. I just finished the thirteenth and last book of Stephen Donaldson’s Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, The Last Dark. He’s been writing the series since 1977 and I’ve been reading them since the first one came out. But I don’t have much time for recreational reading any more – I’d rather spend my free time with my grandson!