• October 3, 2016

Transformation Fast Track: 4 Functions to Target Now

Transform successfully while maintaining stability.

Enterprises are under fierce pressure to change. Insurgent competitors are constantly circling, threatening to seize market share through lower costs, faster time to market, and superior customer engagement. CEOs and corporate boards are looking to CIOs to launch rapid transformation strategies. Now.

Yet many transformations fail to overhaul the organization. The reality is that accelerated transitions are a perilous high-wire act between stability and rapid change.

“For large organizations, one change across an entire system can cost millions,” says Daniel J. Biondi, HPE Fellow and Chief Technology Officer, Financial Services, Asia-Pacific and Japan. “If you have a $20 million to $30 million budget just to keep the lights on, what do you do? Successful transformation takes time.”

An overstretched IT department trying to keep the lights on while driving rapid transformation can put the whole organization in jeopardy. The solution? To start, Biondi suggests focusing on just four components. This strategy allows for a measured, risk-managed approach in transforming mission-critical internal systems while fast-tracking things like customer-facing functions.

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1. Customer Interface

Customer expectations and behaviors have changed markedly over the last decade. Customers expect real-time personalized experiences that seamlessly adapt to their shifting preferences.

This means CIOs must unlock and share data with those who need it most so they can discover valuable correlations and anomalies. Without customer data, marketing teams can’t develop personalized campaigns, foster solid relationships, or innovate intuitive customer engagement interfaces. These engagements must extend to the “internal customer” as well, the enterprise users who must continuously design and deliver unified customer experiences.

2. Social Media

Social media platforms such as Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram are rapidly changing the way enterprises interact with their customers. McDonald’s, for example, used Snapchat to send out snaps of NBA star LeBron James to fans while he was filming a commercial for the brand.

In fact, social media has completely transformed how fans consume sports content. Instead of sitting at home in front of the TV, fans tune in on mobile devices and chat about results in real time on social media, turning many sporting events into multiscreen experiences. At Super Bowl 50 at Levi’s Stadium, for example, fans in the stands could watch replays from multiple angles and tune in to commercials running on broadcast television on their mobile devices.

3. Big Data and Analytics

Data is a powerful asset, and savvy enterprises use it to outflank competitors and transform industries. A laggard on the analytics front, the construction industry is beginning to leverage Big Data analytics to make an inherently risky business more predictive. With cloud-based analytics services, firms are gradually making sense of large and unstructured data sets, including weather data that can have a dramatic impact on project costs and timelines.

These processes could potentially redefine the relationships between architects, engineers, and owners—who all often have dramatically different objectives.

4. Eye on Culture

Transformation processes involve two distinct components. One is structural—new processes, technology, organizational frameworks, and governance. The other is culture—the behavioral shifts that must take place to accommodate new priorities and new thinking.

People are often the most significant limiting factor to transformation because they can resist the new ways of thinking that change demands.

“The challenge is the culture and how people actually embrace change and move forward,” says Biondi. “Many of them don’t want to. They’ve been doing things in a certain way for years. And that’s it.”

This is why people must be put at the center of any transformation process. Enterprise leaders must change their point of view, striving for transparent communications to alleviate perceptions of a hidden agenda lurking in the background. Leaders must engage the rank and file so employees are invested in the outcome and feel empowered to act in the new ways suggested by the transformation journey.

Successful transformations take time, often five to eight years. By accepting the reality of the process, the enterprise can drive speed where it is absolutely necessary, transform mission-critical internal systems in stages to keep the lights on, and get people on board throughout the entire life cycle.

Like this story? Read more about successful transformation in a special report from The Economist Intelligence Unit.

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