Yes – me – the guy who has never passed on an opportunity to make fun of the term “digital transformation” in public, private and hybrid platforms. On Friday, I got the job to lead our digital transformation service line for communications sector clients – companies in Energy, Utilities, Media, Entertainment, Telco, Sports etc.
You don’t need to securely collaborate via Cognitive analytics on your mobile, running on big data stored in the cloud to find that insight – I admit it, and I will be buzz word compliant. And I probably won’t stop making fun of the hype even if my business card reads “digital transformation”. I was a VP of Big Data till yesterday and I was and still am a critic of the hype around that term too – so why stop now 🙂
For people who are reading this for the first time and thinking WTH I am talking about – here is some of the background
When my new boss told me on the phone that the name of the new practice will be “digital transformation”, the irony was delicious. My seven year old fur kid Hobo and I went for a walk around our neighborhood to think through this . Pretty sure I was grinning the whole time.
First things first, many of you asked me what exactly is this digital transformation service line I am going to lead. IBM goes to market primarily by industry, not by technology. For example – we will provide solutions for churn management for a telco company. That solution typically will need many technology practices to come together – data management, strategy, analytics, Watson, Mobile, Design and so on. Those service lines all have their own “horizontal” solutions too – things like “Analytics as a service” for example. All we are doing now is to consolidate such service lines under one portfolio called “digital transformation” .
This will help us have better effectiveness (We will have sharper focus on industry specific solutions , and more comprehensive horizontal solutions.) as well as better efficiency (We don’t need to figure out per customer which service lines to bring together). This also helps us offer more flexible and outcomes based solutions to clients .
While my business card will read “digital transformation” , I don’t think I will switch to a “let me digitally transform you” conversation with any CXO from tomorrow. I will instead be continuing to have conversations like “Can we help you reduce your customer churn” or “Can we work together on cutting down on the time your customers need to spend to find answers” .
Change is hard for clients – even if we call it “transformation”. Our job is to make it easier and pleasant for them.
Technology – the “digital” part of the equation is the somewhat lesser challenge. We know really well how to bend technology to suit business needs , without breaking it. The focus on the tech part is one of keeping on optimizing since technology is rapidly evolving, and we don’t want clients to worry about it. I have a bet going on with an old friend on how many days it will take before I try my hand designing or coding something myself that my new team is tasked with:) . Fair warning – I am learning scala now and can’t wait to try it somewhere !
The harder challenge always will be putting a solution in the specific context of a client’s business. This is also what makes it interesting for our consulting team – going deep into a business and bringing in our experience with similar experiences from other clients, as well as from our research and other colleagues. The speed of execution is another thing that excites me – since I grew up in long multi year ERP projects. While a transformation program might run into many years in the new world too, there is a lot more “instant gratification” along the way. Fast iterations are the name of the game now – and it makes me have the same excitement today as I had when I wrote my first production quality program in the 90s.
Final point – there is an aspect of fun that I cannot just gloss over. This is a new business which we can help shape as we grow. Working on designing fan experience for a soccer team is plenty fun in itself – but integrating that with the supply chain for hot dogs takes the fun quotient to a whole new level. I cannot wait to get introduced to my new gang – and start learning from them.
It will be a fun ride – and if you (or some one you know) think you should be part of this gang, let me know. We are hiring at all levels. Send me your profile and contact information at vijay dot vijayasankar at us dot ibm dot com.