Blog post

You Can’t Buy a Digital Business Technology Platform

By Bill Swanton | February 08, 2018 | 3 Comments

Gartner has written extensively over the past few years about digital business, including digital ambition, business moments, business models, and evolving operating models.  The model for implementation is the Digital Business Technology Platform shown below.  It is affectionately known inside Gartner as the “fidget spinner.”

Gartner's Digital Business Technology Platform
Gartner’s Digital Business Technology Platform

Predictably clients are now asking “How do I buy or build a Digital Business Technology Platform?”  And there is no easy answer because many parts of the platform are applications, systems, and platforms you already own:

  • IT Systems – everyone already has their back office IT systems, such as ERP.  These may need to be wrapped to expose APIs to participate in the platform.
  • Customers – most organizations have a variety of customer facing systems, such as CRM, and may have evolved this into a more complete Customer Engagement Hub.
  • Intelligence – Existing investments in data warehouses, data marts, data lakes must be drawn on not to just gain insights into digital business activity, but to build algorithms and artificial intelligence to automate decision making and responses to digital customer’s needs.
  • Ecosystems – most companies have existing B2B communications to transact with ecosystem partners, but these will become more complex as partners work closer together to respond to a business moment.
  • Internet of Things – manufacturing and supply chain companies probably have a variety of controls and automation (Operational Technology) but may need to extend this much further.

The Digital Business Technology Platform is really a platform of platforms and maybe more than the five listed above.  The capabilities of the existing and new platforms need to be integrated and orchestrated to implement a digital scenario – your platform’s response to a digital moment.

So each company’s starting point on digital business is the result of hundreds of IT decisions made over the last few decades and therefore their Digital Business Technology Platform will be different from every other.  You are going to have to build it my friends!

Now many many helpful vendors will tell you (as they are already telling us) “We have a complete digital platform available off the shelf – just sign here!”  Some have very extensive capabilities, some laughably few.  You will probably buy (or rent) some of this technology to fill in the gaps and do the orchestration, but expect to expend a considerable amount of effort to pull it all together.

Are you building your Digital Business Technology Platform?  If so, I’d like to talk to you.  Please respond to this blog and I’ll be in touch.

Leave a Comment


  • Good points and good blog post, since being a digital business is going to involve tapping into data from multiple data sources both external and internal. It seems that predictive analytics platforms as a new platform for the “inteligence” piece at the center of your concept probably come closest to being the central or last piece of the puzzle in going digital, but I agree even these platforms aren’t an all in one solution for going digital.

  • Hello Bill, A very good perspective on a Digital Business Platform. We have been architecting and implementing many of these components of Digital Business Technology Platform for one of the top 50 universities in the world in Australia. I would consider automation capabilities as key part of Digital Business Technology Platform too. Would be very happy to share our experience with you. Regards, Nirdesh Gupta

  • We are ken in publishing your organisation write up in our magazine