The pandemic accelerated the urgency for reform in health and social care around the world, which strained resources to unprecedented levels. The effects are still being felt and in Northern Ireland specifically, ongoing political instability is further complicating approaches to digital transformation. Although progress is being made that should be recognized and celebrated, Dan West, CDIO for Health and Social Care in Northern Ireland’s Department of Health, understands that the pandemic still casts a lingering shadow over national health and care systems, contributing to continuing rampant fatigue among staff and subsequent strikes over pay.

“From a people perspective, things are pretty strained at the moment,” he says. “All of the capacity and operational challenges that were present in healthcare prior to the pandemic are magnified now. Waiting lists have grown and diagnosis and treatments have been delayed or missed due to some of the burden the pandemic brought on the system. Plus, the absence of a functioning devolved executive, due to an ongoing dispute by the DUP over the Northern Ireland protocol, adds to all of those challenges. It all reduces the ability to arrive at a budget settlement that shifts resources into the health and social care space. So you can see how my job has had to react to all of those stimulants.”

Leaders in the public sector and healthcare might worry about a return of red tape that could slow down innovation, too, but West has a more resilient outlook to progress by, as he says, never wasting a crisis.

“We’ve been able to accelerate the things we knew we needed, but we also had a rate of adoption of collaboration and flexible working tools that we wouldn’t have seen in peacetime, if you like,” he says. “I was doing some work in a trust in the English NHS and we gave everybody tools, laptops and mobile solutions, and redesigned the operating model and how we worked together. There was resistance, though, where people felt they still needed an office, but there was an exponential increase in the use of virtual tools and capabilities to how we interacted with each other as professionals, and with our patients. We need to make sure that how we deliver digital capability to our staff, and how we do digital enablement of services for citizens, is not allow that elasticity in bureaucracy to snap us back to traditional ways of working.”

CIO Leadership Live’s Drinkwater recently spoke with West about how to put people first in a system under increasing pressure to function as it strives to digitally transform amid a backdrop of political and environmental uncertainty. Watch the full video below for more insights.

On balancing efficiencies: To sustain health and social care services into the future, we need to find a way to get more output from the same or maybe even reducing resources. And I don’t think anybody would suggest that digital is some kind of panacea to all of this. The real requirement is in and around staff. But the absence of the money to hire more doctors and nurses, the lead time, and then training them to bring them into the service means that digital has to be part of the jigsaw puzzle to address those challenges. The projects and products we delivered during COVID-19 adopted some of the techniques and technologies that allowed more efficient digitally enabled services.  

On continuing important work: There’s an impact on the experience of citizens, interacting with health and social care services, and leveraging cloud technologies, smart phone apps, and agile delivery methodologies that allowed us to quickly put things in place in a way we haven’t done previously. The COVID Care NI app, for instance, is like a symptom checker and chat bot that provides a personalized package of advice based on personal circumstances and how it related to evolving regulations. Also, the Bluetooth proximity app Stop COVID NI was the first of its kind to launch in the UK, and the first globally to achieve international interoperability, given our shared border with the Republic of Ireland and the Epidemiological Unit of the Island of Ireland. It was important for us to create our sharing capability. A new way of delivering vaccines and vaccine management and convenient booking capabilities was also big. All of those things really changed the paradigm. It moved away from the traditional, matriarchal approach to delivering healthcare services, galvanizing and empowering patients and their families more and how they interacted with services. I’m interested in how we could maintain momentum around those experiences in a post-pandemic world, to leverage technologies and techniques like that, to deliver improved and modernized experiences and services.

On progressing the digital conversation: The fail fast mentality to get product out there that can help us change the way people work and live is one of the key focuses for all technologists in parallel to public scrutiny. People will be more risk-averse than they were during the pandemic, so let’s not allow those big public processes to push us back into traditional ways of working. What we saw was the digital tail wagging the clinical dog. Historically, we tried to avoid that. We tried to have the operational care model and service design drive out technology requirements. I’m not suggesting that shouldn’t be how the world works, but during COVID, the technologists could go beyond the current operating environment where we were trying to build the pandemic response, and look around the world and see the pockets of innovation and best practice—like building a new vaccine management platform with a publicly accessible appointment booking service. That didn’t come from an operational or clinical policy discussion. It was something a colleague in Scotland introduced me to, and I then took it as a digital reader to the Public Health Operational and Clinical Response to say, “We need to start thinking about this.” We can bring digital upstream in the policy conversation and collaborate differently with clinicians who have a better understanding of the benefit and potential impact that digital can have, as well as the way they form relationships and transactions with citizens. All those considerations that allow us to alter the dynamic and accelerate how we can transform services is an environment that’s resistant to change.

On grassroots involvement: I had never done startup stage work in technology, but it’s something I’m interested in to build my own experiences. I’m also quite passionate about the local technology sector. So I’m helping a young reg-tech and insure-tech business to create an initial suite of products that will work within governments, the insurance industry, and home and business owners to address the fact that one in five properties in the UK can’t secure risk-reflective and affordable insurance against flood damage. That’s not sustainable for us, as a society. So technology has a part to play in the information relationship between governments, the insurance industry, and those businesses and homeowners, so that as we increase resilience of our properties through flood risk interventions, we can build that body of evidence that drives us toward a risk-reflected market in insurance. It’s a really interesting opportunity and a different environment to work in compared to the health and care day job. Belfast is getting a good reputation now for technology, so getting involved in a startup and taking it through a launch was quite an interesting opportunity.

On the value of people: To continue delivering and working through priorities for our trusts, and make the digital journey achievable is we have to recognize that projects and programs are just a means to an end. The technology itself is not what we’re all about. It’s about the people being able to deliver better healthcare services, our staff being able to do their jobs better, and our citizens interacting with safer, modern and more convenient healthcare experiences. It’s the opportunity to shift health and social care from being an economic burden for society in Northern Ireland to a real opportunity for growth and innovation. And those people aspects of that technology portfolio must be our focus over the next few years as we carry on this digitization journey in health and care. In a resource constrained environment, we have to evidence that all of these technology investments are delivering a real change for people in the region.

CIO, Digital Transformation, Healthcare Industry, IT Leadership

Many CIOs will face a challenging year grappling with growing pressure from transformation initiatives, weekly layoff announcements, and the prospect of a recession.

While digital initiatives and talent are the board directors’  top strategic business priorities in 2023-2024,  IT spending is forecasted to grow by only 2.4% in 2023. Tech companies have laid off over 250 thousand employees since 2022, and 93% of CEOs report preparing for a US recession over the next 12 to 18 months.

The message to CIOs is to do more with less, and the implication is that CIOs must look at digital transformation initiatives differently than in years past.

Speed of delivery was the primary objective during the years leading into the pandemic, and CIOs looked to improve customer experiences and establish real-time analytics capabilities. During the pandemic, speed remained a priority as CIO shifted to automate workflows and improve employee experiences.

But 2023 is shaping up to be paradoxical, and after speaking to hundreds of CIOs over the past couple of years, I have been advising them to seek force multipliers in their digital transformation initiatives.

What are force-multiplying initiatives?

Force-multiplying digital transformation initiatives aim to accomplish multiple strategic objectives through a single vision and investment. Examples are initiatives to improve both customer and employee experiences or others that deliver a combination of innovation and security enhancements.

Here’s an example of a non-multiplying initiative; a sequential phased delivery familiar to CIOs. Some IT organizations elected to lift and shift apps to the cloud and get out of the data center faster, hoping that a second phase of funding for modernization would come. But the faster transition often caused underperforming apps, greater security risks, higher costs, and fewer business outcomes, forcing IT to address these issues before starting app modernizations. A force-multiplying approach would consider several objectives and recognize that a speedy cloud transition may cause a longer, more expensive transformation.

So what should CIOs look to do today to drive digital transformation, identify force multipliers, and define initiatives that enable smarter, safer, and faster business outcomes? I’ll be covering more examples of force multipliers in upcoming articles, and here are three to start that should apply to most CIOs and their IT organizations.

Agile for hybrid teams optimizing low-code experiences

The agile manifesto is now 22 years old and was written when IT departments struggled with waterfall project plans that often failed to complete, let alone deliver business outcomes. Today, many CIOs must determine which agile tools to use and where to create practice standards.

Assemble a team of Scrum coaches, and they’re likely to debate how much empowerment self-organizing teams require, when to estimate user stories, and whether sprints remain relevant when devops teams are automating deployments with CI/CD.

While many organizations are successful with agile and Scrum, and I believe agile experimentation is the cornerstone of driving digital transformation, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. The organization’s size, types of programs, compliance requirements, and cultural readiness are just a few of the key variables requiring consideration.

Several overlooked variables can help propel agile practices as digital transformation force multipliers.

Transition from daily standups to hybrid virtual ceremonies. One of the common complaints agile team members voice is the number of coordination meetings and time spent in them. CIOs should consider technologies that promote their hybrid working models to replace in-person meetings. Scrum masters can use Slack or Microsoft Teams to replace some standups, while agile team leaders can record virtual sprint reviews so teammates and stakeholders can review them at times convenient to them.Apply agile when developing low-code and no-code experiences. People still associate agile as primarily a software development practice, yet many organizations use Kanban and Scrum in marketing and other department workflows. CIOs looking to close cultural and practice gaps between business stakeholders and IT can apply agile methodologies to citizen development (no-code) and low-code app development as a bridge that unifies vision and practices.

The key for CIOs is finding their organization’s agile way of working and aligning it with other efforts that expand technology capabilities beyond the IT department.

Align data science and data governance programs

Remember when infosec was brought in at the end of the application development process and had little time and opportunity to address issues? Devops teams now look to shift left security and implement continuous testing to develop more innovative, secure, and reliable features from the start.

There are similar concerns for CIOs looking to build data and analytics capabilities.

In pursuing a data-driven organization, CIOs will likely have centralized data scientist teams developing machine learning models, data analysts using self-service business intelligence tools, and a myriad of spreadsheets still used in operating functions. Then, often reporting to risk, compliance, or security organizations, are separate data governance teams focused on data security, privacy, and quality.

CIOs seeking a force multiplier will merge dataops, data science, and data governance initiatives by creating multidisciplinary agile data teams and aligning on business objectives.

Here are some force-multiplying differences achievable by agile data teams:

Want that dashboard, then update the data catalog.Release an updated data viz, then automate a regression test.Integrate a new data source, then scan and mask the data for personally identifiable information.

Achieving the data visualization or building an ML model without applying data governance best practices introduces risks and grows technical and data debt.

AIops that improves performance on more apps

One study reports that global custom software development will reach $85.9 billion by 2028, rising at a market growth of 20.3% CAGR.

I can’t imagine IT operations teams will keep up with this growth while increasing app reliability, performance, and security without using automation and machine learning capabilities. AIops platforms that centralize observability data, correlate monitoring alerts, and enable automated response can be a digital transformation force multiplier for enterprises with too many apps and too few people in the network operations center (NOC) responding to incidents.

These are three of my example force multipliers that every organization driving digital transformation should consider. The pressure to do more with less, drive faster and smarter business outcomes, and enable safer innovations won’t let up anytime soon.

Digital Transformation

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IT Leadership

By Thomas Been, DataStax

Building data-driven, high-growth businesses takes a certain kind of roll-up-your-sleeves, determined, and smart builder who understands the importance of building a unified, foundational data architecture.

We call these people Digital Champions. They’re visionaries in using real-time data and the cloud to deliver unprecedented value to their organizations and, in turn, to their customers.

Last year, we set out to identify enterprises and builders that build powerful, real-time applications that define the future of data. They’ve planned and prepared to scale to whatever demand their growing businesses and customers place upon them. Since we named our first batch of Digital Champions in November, the program has gained some significant momentum.

Our latest group of Digital Champions—SupPlant, K2View, and Ibexa—all hail from Europe and all have taken on big challenges to lead their organizations to success with real-time data.


Revital Kremer is greedy for data. To the chief technology officer of SupPlant, which supplies farmers with critical agronomic insights, the more real-time weather, plant, soil, and water data the company’s solution can gather, the bigger the improvements in crop yield and productivity for customers.

However, as Kremer puts it, collecting data is hard—especially when it involves the variety of sensors and broad range of locales where SupPlant’s customers work. It’s a good thing she’s passionate about what she does and draws energy from the ability of technology to solve the world’s problems. Kremer has worked in a variety of sectors, from gaming to defense, but, as she put it recently, “The agtech domain, and SupPlant in particular, is the first time I’ve built technology that really makes a difference and can help farmers overcome water scarcity and climate changes.”

Kremer embodies the Digital Champion ethos, so we’re proud to honor her here.

Learn more about why Supplant is a Digital Champion here.


The team at K2View isn’t afraid of challenges (the company’s name, after all, is a nod to the second tallest and notoriously challenging to climb mountain in the world). The company enables large enterprises—like AT&T, American Express, and Hertz—to gain 360-degree views of their customers to predict churn, fraud, and more—all in real-time.

For K2View’s chief technology officer Yuval Perlov’s career climb through the telecom, e-commerce, and financial sectors, there’s been at least one consistent challenge: data. So it’s no surprise that he chose Apache Cassandra to provide the extremely high throughput and rock-solid reliability required to build a real-time data platform for K2View’s customers.

For the trust they’ve built in bringing real-time data to big enterprises, K2View is an obvious choice to earn the title of Digital Champion. 

Learn more about why K2View is a Digital Champion here.


Nazariy Kostiv, senior Java engineer at Norway’s Ibexa, doesn’t have time to think about infrastructure. Recently named the leader of the company’s Java team, Kostiv is intently focused on developing innovations for Ibexa’s Digital Experience Platform, which enables customers to build customized B2B e-commerce experiences.

Building real-time recommendation engines and other applications at scale is how Kostiv and his team make an impact—not managing database resources. It’s one reason Ibexa chose DataStax Astra DB. (“We don’t lose sleep over concerns of node failure or other issues,” as Kostiv puts it).

From how they built new user experiences for a major movie theater chain in Colombia to their work modernizing outdated websites for the French government, Kostiv and the Ibexa team exemplify the data-driven, roll-up-your-sleeves approach of the Digital Champion.

Learn more about why Ibexa is a Digital Champion here.

Does your organization fit the Digital Champion mold? Contact me to nominate a Digital Champion today!

About Thomas Been:


Thomas leads marketing at DataStax. He has helped businesses transform with data and technology for more than 20 years, in sales and marketing leadership roles at Sybase (acquired by SAP), TIBCO, and Druva.

Digital Transformation, IT Leadership

Like many airlines, Lufthansa Group had its business upended by the COVID-19 pandemic. By April 2020, with travel bans proliferating, the airline suffered losses of €1 million per hour.

Thomas Rückert, senior vice president and CIO of Lufthansa Group, says those early days of the pandemic laid bare that the airline’s digital solutions were not scalable.

“The customers all had to go through flight disruptions, all had to go through service centers, which you couldn’t scale up in line with the need fast enough, so it made it very visible and tangible that self-service solutions are an absolute must improvement for the call centers,” Rückert says.

Lufthansa’s customer experience (CX) strategy has three pillars, Rückert says: physical, service, and digital. Because Lufthansa’s business is moving people from place to place, the physical side of the customer experience is still the airline’s primary pillar. The company also prides itself on providing the best “service touch” it can to its customers.

“You have the service touch that comes from employees, which is probably the thing that we still get the most positive feedback on,” he says.

The digital component of Lufthansa’s customer experience efforts has become increasingly important in supporting the first two pillars.

“How much can you control your journey through the digital space? That’s something that we lacked in the past and we don’t want to in the future,” Rückert says. “Also, how do we enable our people in the service, in the cockpit, and in the cabin or on the ground to provide a better service to the people? We strongly believe and focus a lot on how we can give better data to cabin crews so they can, for instance, welcome you.”

Standardizing platforms, shifting to product-based IT

The pandemic accelerated a general trend in the airline industry toward digital transformation, Rückert says, as it was already clear the public wanted more control of their travel experiences through their mobile devices. “That is a trend that started much before the crisis, but it has accelerated significantly,” he says.

At the same time, airport and air traffic control staff are much reduced from pre-pandemic levels, which has put additional pressures on the travel experience that are sometimes outside an airline’s control. That, in turn, leads to more disruptions and more need to rebook travelers on flights — a volume issue for airlines, and one that many travelers want to handle by themselves, Rückert says. “Self-service is now much more important.”

Getting there has been easier said than done for Lufthansa, which was among the first airlines to build a data warehouse for its customer data, but much of that technology is now decades old.

“We had a few tough nuts to crack because our backend technology is quite complex, so finding a way to turn that into a modernized platform detached from the back end is really a difficult problem,” Rückert says. “But it’s much easier than solving the other end of the problem, which is to get the business to let go of decision power a little bit. If you don’t give that to the developers together with some business product owners, you don’t get speed.”

Rückert took the reins as CIO in January 2021, promoted internally from vice president of Base Maintenance Services at Lufthansa Technik, where he helped overhaul the subsidiary’s worldwide overhaul network. When Rückert stepped into the role following the departure of predecessor Roland Schütz, Lufthansa was already a year into a digital transformation journey, one that started with an effort to standardize its various platforms.

“The benefits of those investments are slowly coming to the surface now that the platform is becoming more harmonized,” Rückert says. “So if we make an improvement, we don’t have to do it five times anymore with seven interfaces, all different.”

But Lufthansa’s real transformation started about a year ago, as the IT function started moving away from the traditional project mindset and adopted a product focus, Rückert says.

“We’re moving from a project approach where maybe our board was still thinking the app will be finished one day, where now we’re setting up the pipeline where new features will come down to improve the ones we have,” he says.

His team has already found success in harmonizing and standardizing the web portal, the booking engine, and the app, says Rückert, noting that the team has just started a large-scale alpha test for the latest app versions.

“In the back end, we’ve made a lot of changes to enable better customer data connection with travel ID,” he says. “Those two elements together are the focus of what lies now ahead, connecting those two in a smart way, meaning making good recommendations to the customers. Offering through the profile real advantages, like data only in one place, a simplified process to check in. It looks completely different compared to what you had to do in the past. Safe services is a huge focus topic.”

Benchmarking success

One of the tools Lufthansa has turned to, with the help of partner Boston Consulting Group (BCG), is BCG’s Digital Acceleration Index (DAI), a survey of companies across 10 industries that seeks to benchmark digital transformation and identify how the most digitally mature companies have achieved success.

“We did one big exercise to evaluate ourselves about one and a half years ago,” Rückert says. “Since then, we’ve been doing smaller steps.”

This year, Rückert plans to do another exercise to determine how the company stands in terms of platform automation and the use of data and AI.

To his peers, Rückert says, “don’t underestimate how difficult business transformation is. For us, it started as an IT transformation, platform harmonization, but that’s the easy part. The difficult part is the business transformation, because if that doesn’t happen, you don’t get faster and you have a Ferrari but you can only drive 30 kilometers an hour. I spend a lot of time on that part and I still am. You just have to anticipate that.”

Data Management, Digital Transformation

The motivations to digitize client-facing solutions vary but are often both push and pull: a push from your organization to grow revenues, gain competitive advantage, and further differentiate products and services, and a pull by the market looking for the latest technologies such as AI/ML, AR/VR, and digital twins for immediate business benefit.

When WGI and Columbia Universities’ Global Leaders in Construction Management polled over 570 end users about strategic technology trends they saw having the most business impact on the infrastructure industry in 2023, they cited AI and ML at 32%, augmented and virtual reality (AR and VR) at 13%, and 3D printing at 12%.

When setting goals and measuring progress, it often helps to assess the current state of the digital portfolio in terms of how digitally-enabled it is today, as well as to define the future vision in terms of the organization’s digital ambition. The future vision may be 100% digital or a lower, but more practical, target based on the mix of actual products and services being delivered.

If we take the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry as an example, the level of digitization will clearly vary by division or department. Since it deals with high-tech data acquisition, via LiDAR, photogrammetry, and other means, the geospatial division will likely be more digitally enabled in its current state than other divisions, and may have a strong appetite (and strong client appetite) for further digitization.

When thinking about digital portfolio strategy and the maturity of the portfolio, some common questions from the senior leadership team may include: What percentage of our portfolio is digitally enabled today? How often are we refreshing our portfolio and introducing new products and services? What percentage of our portfolio is leveraging data analytics to help improve decision making and monetize our data? What percentage of our portfolio is leveraging automation and AI and ML to take the grit out of the system and deliver intelligent insights? What percentage of our portfolio is delivered in a SaaS model for annuity revenues?

To assess the current state as well as to plan the future vision and target outcomes from a portfolio innovation perspective, here are five measures of digital enablement to aid your digital portfolio strategy.

% digital enablement — The percentage of your portfolio that’s digitally enabled, and how you define it is up to you. One approach is to include anything that’s over 50% digital in terms of the overall process, workflow or service offering under consideration. In this case, there may still be manual elements involved, but the process is at least half-automated.

% refresh rate — The percentage of your client-facing portfolio that’s been introduced within the last three to five years and is also known as a vitality index. It provides a sense of how you’re maintaining your portfolio and keeping it up to date with market demands. This is a valuable because it gives a sense of new products and services in addition to existing services becoming digitally enabled.

% leveraging data analytics — The percentage of your portfolio that leverages data analytics to improve internal processes and decision making, or to help further monetize your data from a client perspective. This is valuable because it can augment your data strategy and apply analytics on top to further enhance its business impact and monetary value.  

% leveraging automation, AI and ML — The percentage of your portfolio that leverages automation and AI and ML to improve efficiencies and provide intelligent insights. As AI and ML become embedded within most software applications, this percentage will increase naturally over time even without a concerted effort. But it’s important to consider where your digital products and services can take advantage of the broad spectrum of automation and AI and ML technologies to further differentiate your portfolio.   

% SaaS-enablement — The percentage of your portfolio that is software-as-a-service enabled in terms of being provided in the cloud and, in the case of client offerings, monetized via a subscription-based business model. In industries such as AEC, where the bulk of work is still delivered on a project-by-project basis, SaaS-enabled service offerings can greatly increase average revenue per employee as well as provide revenue growth via an annuity revenue model.

A great way to get started is to work with your divisions and departments to have them self-assess their current percentages and then determine where they’d like to be in 2025 or beyond based on your organization’s digital strategy. Be sure to take the assessment down to a granular level and look at individual service offerings below each service line. Exact target percentages for the future vision will vary by industry and by division and will also depend on your starting point, your organization’s current digital skills and maturity, and your digital ambition. As your organization sets its goals for 2025 and beyond, setting targets for these indicators as well as monitoring your progress year-over-year can be a valuable way to digitally transform the product and service portfolio in a way that impacts both top and bottom lines.

Digital Transformation, Project Portfolio Management

The pandemic-era push to quickly boost digital touchpoints and services proved that transformation can happen fast.

That has left a lasting legacy: Even as the pandemic recedes, enterprise executives continue to expect CIOs and their IT departments to deliver transformative capabilities at a rapid-fire pace.

If you think you’re keeping up, think again: One recent study from research firm Gartner found that the majority of CEOs (59%) say digital initiatives take too long and 52% take too long to realize value.

The pressure is on to accelerate digital transformation, according to CIOs, researchers, and analysts. They say growing concerns about economic slowdowns and a possible recession only ratchet up the need for speed.

Veteran IT executives and executive advisors offer the following 10 strategies that CIOs can employ to increase the velocity of IT work and the delivery of transformative initiatives.

1. Shed the legacy mindset

CIOs have been shedding legacy technology for years, but Ken Piddington, vice president and CIO of US Silica, says it’s time for CIOs to kick the legacy mindset to the curb, too.

That means shortening the expected lifespan on new technologies as well as the timelines for seeing returns. In other words, stop thinking big bangs, seek out smaller, quicker victories.

Piddington says he accepts that some technology investments will be short-lived, that they will be designed and implemented to meet the needs of the moment and deliver returns quickly, and then will have to be retired.

“Understand that we might have to throw it away quickly, and that’s not a sunk cost,” Piddington says, adding that as a result CIOs need to get okay with more churn in the tech stack and truly embrace technology strategies centered around smaller investments and iterative builds rather than the big projects of yesteryear.

2. Go all-in with modern work processes — particularly agile

Another way to ensure IT can more quickly deliver transformative features, functions, and services is to go all-in with modern approaches to work; more specifically, CIOs say that means fully embracing the agile development methodology.

Indeed, the majority turn to agile practices for the speed it can bring to enterprise initiatives: 52% of respondents to the 2022 State of Agile Report from DevOps platform maker said they prioritized implementing the methodology to accelerate time to market.

Bobby Cain can attest to the speed agile generates. Cain, who started as CIO for North America at Schneider Electric after serving nearly a decade as the company’s business transformation VP, says his IT department adopted the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe), brought in agile coaches to work with teams, and had workers earn agile certifications “so we don’t just think but act in agile terms.”

Cain points to one recent project as proof of the value brought by this full embrace of agile.

We dont just think but act in agile terms.”
CIO North America, Schneider Electric

“The rebate modernization project is a great example of where we saved almost six months in being able to deploy a working solution,” he says, contrasting the agile project with a previous waterfall pilot where “we failed after six months because we designed it in a vacuum and couldn’t scale the solution.”

He further explains: “With an agile team we understood quickly that we needed additional data fields in existing data requests and transfers with our distributors. Partnering with our distributors during the design phase we quickly incorporated VOC [voice of the customer] into our design and it allowed us to adjust the solution during build/test phases to quickly change on the fly and ultimately deploy much sooner. This will enable the business to realize the value and trace it to the P&L ahead of schedule. Equally as important, it delivers productivity savings to our distributors through greater accuracy and less disputes and audits.”

3. Create reusable tools and repeatable processes

Kathy Kay, CIO of the Principal Financial Group, is a big believer in the value of creating tools and processes that can be used over and over to save time, so much so that she has a cloud enablement team that builds and delivers such things (from APIs to pipelines) to other technologists who then use them to speed their own work.

“So it’s easier for engineers to build out new environments, it makes it safer and easier to secure, and more consistent, and that enables those teams to do their work more quickly,” Kay explains.

Kay points to the creation and use of a principal design system as an illustrative example, saying it is meant to ensure that the company’s customers have a consistent experience when interacting with the company regardless of where those customers are located. The system uses various AWS services that have been designed and configured to enable that desired customer experience, and, Kay says, “When leveraged, it will allow an engineer to quickly build an environment that’s secure and consistent — and to build more quickly than if they had to create it for themselves.”

4. Educate your IT team on key business drivers

By now, CIOs everywhere have gotten the message that they must align with the business and its strategies. But Piddington has found that keeping his team updated on “what’s really driving the organization, what are the headwinds and tailwinds” is equally important for keeping pace with business needs.

“It’s my responsibility to make sure I communicate that down to my team. Otherwise, how can they make educated decisions?” Piddington asks.

Piddington shares such information with his IT team, and he also invites other departmental executives to speak with his staff so they learn about the opportunities and challenges that the company is facing.

Its my responsibility to make sure I communicate that down to my team. Otherwise, how can they make educated decisions?”
VP, CIO, US Silica

That communication pays dividends when it comes to speedy tech development. Piddington points to a recent exchange he had with one of his developers. Knowing that the company saw more customer access to real-time logistics information as a way to gain and keep market share, she developed over just one weekend a program that could deliver those insights through Amazon’s Alexa. “It was about quickly showing the art of the possible, the ease of accessing the data,” Piddington says.

5. Make your business more digitally literate

Similarly, CIOs who have been able to increase IT’s ability to deliver transformative features, functions, and services are educating their business unit colleagues on the potential — and limits — of emerging technologies, says Kamales Lardi, author of The Human Side Of Digital Business Transformation and managing director, Switzerland, for Valtech, a global business transformation company.

“A lot of times organizations like to leave tech to the CIO, but that creates multiple challenges. That means the CIO is the only one who has tech literacy, so there’s no one else in the room who can help answer questions like, ‘Are we aggressive enough? Are we right with resource allocation? Is this the best solution for what we want to achieve?’” Lardi says.

Although CIOs have taken the lead in marrying technology solutions to enterprise objectives, Lardi says those who can most quickly determine the answers to such questions enjoy a true “collaboration with business leaders and board members and the tech team.”

6. Make IT training a priority

In another nod to education, transformative CIOs likewise say continuously building up the IT team skills is essential for the ability to move fast.

Ramon Richards, senior vice president and CIO of Fannie Mae, says it’s about “investing in the right training to make sure people have the right skills to support the digital capabilities we think are important for the business we support.”

This may seem obvious, but it requires CIOs committing adequate resources to identify what skills will be needed as the organization moves forward, paying for the teams’ training, and carving out time for teams to get that training done, Richards says.

[Accelerating digital is about] investing in the right training to make sure people have the right skills to support the digital capabilities we think are important for the business we support.”
SVP and CIO, Fannie Mae

For Richards, that has meant training sessions to ensure his workers know how to use cloud infrastructure tools and services to an optimal degree “so they’re efficient in building software, and so we are able to deliver software faster and can deliver more resilient software with more controls in place to protect us from cyber threats.”

He adds: “It is about changing and modernizing how we work across our technology and processes by making sure our people have the right skills to operate.”

Richards knows firsthand the speed such training can bring, sharing that he lacked enough skilled workers on prior transformative projects and had to go to the consultant and contractor market to find the needed talent — a process that added time to the project’s delivery.

“We learned early on in our journey as we scaled digital capabilities that if you don’t have enough people with the right skills it will slow down your progress,” he says.

7. Invest in modular architecture

In addition to talking about process and people, transformation leaders also focus — not surprisingly — on the third part of the PPT framework: technology.

More specifically, they focus on investing in the right core technologies, architecture, and design to enable their technologists to quickly deliver whatever transformative tech the business needs.

According to the 2022 State of Digital Transformation report from IT service management company TEKsystems, 87% of “digital leaders agree that their organization’s ability to compete in the market is greatly dependent on the flexibility of their technology architecture.”

This goes beyond adopting cloud computing and software-as-a-service, they say. Rather, it’s about building an IT infrastructure that’s as nimble and responsive as the organization itself aims to be.

It’s about being “modular, open, and agile” and building microservices so teams can configure and reconfigure as quickly as business needs change, says Samsara CIO Stephen Franchetti.

“We need architecture that can keep up with the rate and pace of business change,” he says. “So we have to step back and consciously build that architecture [where it’s] easy to connect and easy to access data.”

Franchetti has seen how that speeds up work. “We essentially use these microservices as Lego building blocks, being able to quickly rearrange them to enable outcomes for the business,” he says.

For example, Samsara IT quickly brought together microservices around customer and product usage information to enable more real-time invoicing, payment, and product delivery information on the company’s website. IT then used those same services to enable the company’s go-to-market teams to have better data around customer usage, support cases, and interactions with the company website.

“We were able to achieve these outcomes in a fraction of the time; using the legacy approach would have taken many [more] months to achieve,” Franchetti says.

8. Speed up access to data

Another critical component for speed: ready access to high-quality data.

Many, if not most, transformative efforts — such as automating processes and personalizing user experiences — rely on data. So it’s imperative for CIOs to break down remaining data silos and build a data architecture that supports immediate access to needed data.

Getting that work done means agile teams won’t have to pause and wait for the data they need in the middle of projects, explains Thomas Randall, advisory director at Info-Tech Research Group and its SoftwareReviews division.

“There can’t be independent silos; there needs to be integration across data portfolios,” Randall adds. “[Departmental executives need to ask,] ‘How might we capture, store, and leverage data for the benefits of other departments as well?’”

Samsara’s Franchetti says CIOs often struggle on this front due to the sheer volume of challenges around data. His approach has been to tackle it bit by bit, leaning on a quote (attributed to South African Anglican bishop Desmond Tutu) about there being “only one way to eat an elephant: a bite at a time.”

“I’ve struggled across companies to get full investments to eat that elephant all at once, so to make it successful, I attach data initiatives to business outcomes,” he says. “And by building out these strategic use cases, doing each one in the right way, ensuring we’re building the architecture in the right way, we build out these bodies of work that get us to where we’re in a position to expand and expand more rapidly.”

This incremental approach to data then produces a flywheel effect, he explains, allowing each subsequent initiative to move faster by building on the work already done. “It comes down to success breeds success,” Franchetti says.

9. Deal directly with customers

Another way to speed transformation: Ditch some of the intermediaries that exist between the CIO and the customer.

“I would challenge any CIO on how much time they spend with their customers and how much direct knowledge they get from their customers. In most organizations the touchpoints with customers are the product development teams, marketing and sales teams. CIOs rarely have that touchpoint,” Valtech’s Lardi says. “But one way to accelerate transformation is to understand who the target audience is today and tomorrow, what problems you are trying to solve for them, and what experiences they want, so you’re building solutions for your customers rather than building solutions to be sold.”

She says CIOs and their IT teams have a plethora of data that they can access to gain insights about their customers. She also says CIOs should find ways to directly engage customers — something that fits well with the modern work processes (such as agile development and human centered design) that leading CIOs have adopted.

10. Align IT’s pace to each business unit

Yes, CIOs do indeed have to move as fast as the business needs. But at the same time, they don’t want to be so fast that they outpace them, Piddington says.

“You really have to be in tune with your organization, because everyone says they want something yesterday. But not all things in all business units need to have the pedal to the floor. There are different levels of speed needed,” he says.

That’s why CIOs must understand the pace of the various business units and their individual needs, Piddington says. He uses that insight to prioritize projects, thereby ensuring he can deliver speed where and when it will make an impact.

“Even if IT can build [something] quickly, if the business isn’t ready to use it then it will sit on the shelf. So we’ve created shelfware, and I could have used those resources to deliver something elsewhere more quickly that could have delivered an ROI right away,” Piddington explains. “It’s about understanding the timing of the investment to maximize its return.”

Digital Transformation

Bayer is using drones to collect farming data across 80 million acres and satellite data to predict soil moisture down to the square meter. These are just two examples in a transformation that is impacting every part of the business and all 100,000 employees, as undertaken under the helm of Bijoy Sagar, the multinational’s chief information technology and digital transformation officer.

I recently had a chance to discuss Bayer’s tiered approach to digital transformation with Sagar, as well as the IT chief’s thoughts on ramping up digital literacy in the C-suite and the determining the right time to disrupt your legacy business. On the heels of one of the largest cloud transformations in Europe, Sagar has Bayer on track for a highly digital future. Following are excerpts from that conversation.

Martha Heller: How would you describe Bayer’s digital transformation?

Bijoy Sagar: We have three tiers of digital transformation. The first is building new business models. For example, we have a new digital farming business with drones that cover 80 million acres and collect a tremendous amount of data. We have our own access to satellite data, so we can predict within one square meter the moisture and content of soil, and we use those algorithms to plant crops.

We are also collaborating with Microsoft to build an open platform marketplace in the crop world. This will allow us to develop new solutions for farming operations, manufacturing, supply chain, and sustainable sourcing,

The second tier is digitizing our internal processes, and transforming HR, finance, and R&D to support our new digital platform businesses. We have hundreds of data scientists embedded in the company, who are working on algorithms to automate internal processes. This work is directly tied to our Global Business Services strategy so that we get maximum leverage out of our scale.

The third tier, which might be the least glamorous, is to create the infrastructure to support these new digital businesses and processes. This quarter, we are kicking off an all-cloud SAP 4/HANA implementation that will bring more than 100 ERP instances down to two.

In addition to the all-cloud ERP, what architectural decisions are you making?

We are driving an architecture strategy to move everything to one single middleware platform, and we are creating an API-first ecosystem, because new digital businesses cannot run on old plumbing.

With cybersecurity, we are implementing zero trust across the board. Countries are changing their rules on personal data, and I believe the internet is heading to ‘splinternet.’ How do you build a network architecture that works in the splinternet? These architectural elements are a part of our digital transformation journey.

How is the digital business different from the legacy business?

We have disrupted our traditional supply chain model by moving it online and changing it to a subscription model. The new model is more predictable and has healthier margins. But to make a platform business model work, you must be a market leader. If you are building a platform business in undifferentiated product areas, the consumer will not be interested enough. You need to establish market primacy before you disrupt your traditional business.

What was your playbook for developing these digital businesses?

The first was getting our leadership to speak the same digital language. We partnered with a business school to take our leaders through a three-week course, so that we could have productive, collaborative discussions about digital risk and opportunity. That was playbook rule number one, and it took some time.

The second was defining the business model. Should it be a brand-new direct-to-consumer business, or should we provide digital support to our current business model? We spent a fair amount of experimentation time to figure this out.

The third rule in the playbook is to have patience. While we wanted everyone on board right way, we learned that it can take some time before digital risk and opportunity become real and relevant for people. This is where skepticism can creep in. People will think, ‘We all agreed to this strategy, but where is the return on that investment?’

Bayer just completed one of the largest cloud transformations in Europe. What advice do you have for CIOs moving from an on-prem to a cloud infrastructure?

The first is to do your homework before you start the program. If you are at a company with dozens of years of technical debt, you must transform those processes and middleware before you move to the cloud. If you don’t change your processes ahead of time, your journey to the cloud will be constantly interrupted because you will be cleaning up the mess as you go.

Second, have a clear roadmap for the older systems that will not move to the cloud. Some can be containerized and isolated, but others cannot. If you don’t have a clear plan — and this happened to us — you start to move to the cloud and then realize there were additional interfaces that you needed to clean.

Third, have a very strong relationship with your hyperscaler partners, because you will need them to solve problems along the way.

Fourth, have a very good data lifecycle management strategy. Older companies tend to have a lot of data, so they need a long-term strategy for different data types. How much time, for example, do you need to keep data for regulatory compliance and algorithm training?

And then of course, we would not have been successful in any of this without a dedicated, hard-working, and professional team.

What attributes do you look for in your senior team?

Transparency, honesty, integrity, and credibility. When they say something, will people believe them? Are they putting the agenda of the company ahead of their personal agenda? I also look for the ability to create followership, because a leader without followers is just a person going for a walk.

My senior leaders also need a strategic mindset. Are they looking at the next quarter or a three-year horizon? As you move up in in the organization, your horizon needs to expand. Finally, I hire people who are very different from me; I hire against my weakness.

What advice do you have for CIOs driving transformation?

Transformation is not about technology; it is about change. Paint the picture. Why would anyone make this difficult journey? What’s on the other end? If you don’t paint the picture, people will see only the pain in front of them, because no transformation is painless.

Also, keep in mind the ethical use of all these technologies. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.

Finally, remember that your biggest stakeholder is your employee base. Make sure all of those employees are excited to go on the journey with you. Convincing the board and the external world can be easier than convincing the employee base. We engineers don’t always focus on the people part of change, so we need to consciously adjust our focus.

Digital Transformation, IT Leadership

Mandy Simpson, Chief Digital Officer at Z Energy, on why she embraces working for high-change organisations, the need for IT teams to build up trust across the business, and why you should always go for a job that scares you a little.

Watch the episode:

CIO Leadership Live

For many of today’s global enterprises, it’s a struggle to adapt quickly to emerging challenges.

With supply chain issues and the impending recession, digital transformation remains a pressing strategic imperative. However, key digital transformation milestones remain out of reach for far too many teams. To make real strides in each of these areas, Value Stream Management (VSM) has emerged as an urgent demand.

Earlier this year, Broadcom commissioned extensive industry research to learn how VSM adoption is evolving and which key trends are emerging in 2023. Conducted by Dimensional Research, this survey polled more than 500 IT and business leaders. Respondents came from five continents and represented a wide range of industries.

The findings from this survey are now available in a report entitled “2023 Value Stream Management Trends.” We’ll offer critical insights from this report in the following sections.

#1. Enterprise leaders are more focused on the customer than ever

When asked about their top strategic business focus for 2023, 58% of respondents cited “increasing customer value,” the highest-rated response. This objective was ranked third in a similar survey conducted the previous year.

The report’s authors state, “It now seems companies are shifting focus from rushing products to market that risk decreasing customer value with defects, bugs, or quality problems to a clear focus on maximizing customer delight with value and quality.”

#2. A disconnect between business and IT is impeding the attainment of key objectives

As they look at their challenges heading into 2023, senior leaders can be forgiven for having a sense of déjà vu. More than two-thirds (68%) of respondents say their businesses continued to be plagued by a long-standing issue: the disconnect between software development and business strategy. An even higher percentage of technology teams, 72%, are frustrated by business leaders’ constant changing of business priorities.

Since the advent of the pandemic, supply chains have presented challenges for businesses in a range of industries—and supply chains remain the highest-ranked challenge as teams enter 2023. Forty-nine percent of respondents said ensuring their company has reliable supply chains is a top challenge.  

#3. VSM adoption is widespread and growing

Today, the consensus around VSM is nearly unanimous: 92% agree that VSM can help optimize the product lifecycle. Further, 86% have adopted VSM or plan to. By the end of 2023, 60% of organizations will be shipping products using VSM.

The survey also revealed that digital transformation initiatives are tightly aligned with VSM. Ninety-five percent of organizations currently pursuing VSM initiatives are also pursuing digital transformation.

#4. VSM is delivering significant benefits for digital transformation

For teams that have implemented VSM, a vast majority of respondents, 95%, report that VSM has helped deliver key benefits. When asked what benefits VSM has already shown, six responses were selected by one-third or more survey participants. Topping the list were increased transparency (42%), improved organizational alignment (39%), faster delivery of solutions to customers (38%), and enhanced data-driven decision-making (37%)—which can all be integral to advancing digital transformation.

The research shows that those building VSM capabilities are seeing an improved ability to measure and track customer value, which, as outlined earlier, is the top strategic imperative for leaders.


This recent survey offers some compelling proof points of the power of VSM. As we head into 2023, the businesses that have established VSM practices are better positioned to achieve their digital transformation objectives and deliver more value to customers. To learn more, download the report “2023 Value Stream Management Trends.”


Explore ValueOps Value Stream Management, built to manage what you value most.

Digital Transformation