Digital Transformation: Do we really need a business case or is creativity more important?

I participated in Dell EMC's Big Data Crowdchat, which focused on implementing Big Data as part of a larger Digital Transformation within the organisation. Over the next few blog posts, I will summarise the main points. I participated with a group of industry legends, and I always learn from their expertise. Here is a summary of the main points from the CrowdChat.

Do we really need a business case, or is creativity more important? 

Let's take the situation where you are responsible for running digital transformation projects in a race to gain competitive advantage and differentiation.  How can big data and data lakes help you win? The focus of the CrowdChat is to support you with skills, techniques and advice to reach your big data goals!

Do we really need a business case or is creativity in new products and services are more important? 

This was a great question, posed by Dr Thore Rabe, VP of the Isilon Storage Division of Dell EMC in EMEA My own thought is that Digital Transformation requires a cultural shift but the business still needs to run. A business case is the outcome of thinking, which is hopefully creative as well as focused. I've often wondered why there isn't a proper 'ideas' software application as well as scheduling apps. I'm sure that many great ideas get forgotten!

On their own, creative concepts can't always convince a Board to allocate budget, and to do that, I still believe that a business case remains essential to drive significant changes. At some point, there has to be a focus. Drucker's insight that "What gets measured, gets improved." Drucker's insight is more subtle than the catchy quotes that his book gets boiled down to, actually. It means that you measure what you care about, and this is the decision that has to be made first. It's crucial to decide what you care about first, and this is part of your organisational vision; and the vision fundamentally has to be creative in nature. Therefore, organisations are required to do both, I believe. 

Isn't the business case about checks and balances?

The business case is more than simply showing checks and balances, savings and investments. It is a translation of innovation and creativity into something actionable, deliverable and achievable. I like the agile approach since I like to prove a series of small successful business cases within a larger framework for Digital Transformation, and it allows creativity to be a part of the story. agility in abstract frameworks allow businesses to move forward with a fluid vision and business cases which are open to ideas. The agile approach means that creativity and science-based thinking have to collide with each other. It seems counterintuitive, but they and do complement each other. We can see this happening in the history of science. 

What do you think? Do you put the business case first, or rely on creativity for your Digital Transformation program? How do you prioritise and balance these items, if you do it at all?

What do you think?