The transformation imperatives

In recent years, global enterprises have gone through tectonic shifts, responding to massive changes in their societal, competitive, and geopolitical realities. These trends have had many consequences, but they’ve all served to intensify a key imperative: rapid digital transformation. While progress has been made, many organizations still have a lot of work to do—and many obstacles to overcome.

The challenge

Too often, teams are seeing that their transformation initiatives are being stalled. While it is natural to think the problem is due to a lack of funding, staffing, and so on, this isn’t necessarily the cause.

In fact, adding more people or tools may do little if anything to enable organizations to make significant progress. Why? The core issue typically isn’t a lack of resources; it’s a lack of alignment between the teams and tools that are already in place.

For example, a recent survey found that more than two-thirds (68%) of respondents said their businesses continued to be plagued by a long-standing issue: the disconnect between software development and business strategy. (The findings from this survey are now available in a report, which is entitled 2023 Value Stream Management Trends.)

Often, adding more people or technologies doesn’t solve these problems—it exacerbates them. 

The promise of Value Stream Management

As teams look to fuel the success of their strategic transformation initiatives, Value Stream Management (VSM) is emerging as an increasingly essential approach.

VSM has the potential to eliminate many of the most significant obstacles that currently stifle digital transformation. That’s one major reason why it’s been gaining such widespread traction: According to the same survey, 86% of organizations have adopted VSM or plan to. Through VSM, teams can be more fully aligned with the needs of the customer, and maximize the value that gets delivered.

Announcing the 2023 Value Stream Management Summit

While the benefits of VSM are enormous, that doesn’t mean they’re guaranteed. To help teams more fully capitalize on the opportunities presented by VSM, Broadcom is holding its third annual VSM Summit. Here are just a few highlights you can expect from this year’s event:

Industry analyst shares latest VSM trends and insights. Forrester analyst Chris Condo will share some of his firm’s latest findings in terms of market trends and show how teams can leverage VSM data to tackle their top transformation challenges.Transformation leaders share what’s worked for them. Executives from The Hartford, HCSC, Memorial Sloan Kettering, and Tyson Foods will discuss some of the specific approaches and strategies that helped propel their success.Broadcom executives to share key solution advantages. Senior management from Broadcom will reveal how optimized value streams can help your teams maximize visibility, alignment, trust, and value.


Whether you’re just about to embark on your VSM journey or you’re looking for ways to get the most out of your initiatives, this event will provide a lot of insights and value. To learn more and register, be sure to visit our VSM Summit page.

Devops, Software Development

At Topgolf Callaway Brands, digital transformation has been a key enabler of strategic growth and expansion, laying the foundation for the company’s future.

Ely Callaway Jr. founded the company in 1982, buying Hickory Stick USA golf clubs after that maker started running low on funds. In 1986, the company released the Big Bertha driver using computer-controlled manufacturing machines. While golf clubs and golf balls remain the company’s beating heart, over the past 40 years its revenue mix has shifted to include apparel and gear. Its acquisition of Topgolf International, completed in March 2021, added technology and tech-enabled entertainment to the mix, pushing the company toward digital transformation.

“The acquisition of Topgolf, I would say, is the final move to get into the digital space as a brand,” says Fabio Casanova, IT global solution advisor and retail solution architect at Topgolf Callaway. “Topgolf is known for its venues, for the locations, but what many people don’t know is that Topgolf have the IP for the Toptracer technology.”

Toptracer is a ball-tracking technology that uses complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) image sensors to capture a golf ball in flight. It uses multiple video angles to extrapolate the flight of the ball. The PGA Tour uses the technology to help broadcasters present information to fans about a shot’s rise, speed, arc, and distance. Topgolf driving ranges provide golfers with data about their performance at the range via a mobile app.

“Topgolf is a tech company,” Casanova says. “It’s going to help Callaway transition from a manufacturer, wholesale business to digital.”

Driving digital transformation

Topgolf is just the latest in a string of acquisitions by Callaway, including fashion brand TravisMathew and OGIO International (a maker of golf bags, backpacks, and travel luggage) in 2017, and Jack Wolfskin (an outdoor apparel, footwear, and equipment company) in 2018.

Callaway inherited a lot of legacy systems as a result of the acquisitions, and its current digital transformation journey has been driven by a need to migrate those disparate legacy systems to a single system. Casanova notes that not only does the company want to unify the data across its various brands, his team of eight doesn’t have the various skillsets needed to maintain all those legacy systems.

In 2016, 84% of Callaway’s revenue mix was in golf equipment. By 2021, the mix had shifted to 38% in golf equipment, 38% from Topgolf, and 24% in apparel, gear, and other lines of business. By fiscal 2025, Callaway projects Topgolf will account for 46% of its revenue mix, with golf equipment at 27% and apparel, gear, and other lines of business providing 27% as well.

That ongoing shift is making direct customer engagement increasingly important, which means the company must leverage its organizational data to deliver intelligent, personalized customer experiences to remain competitive. To do that, Callaway is working closely with partners GK Software, a specialist in cloud services for retail, and SAP.

The current push started with a project to streamline point-of-sale (POS) processes for Callaway’s TravisMathew brand. It deployed the SAP Omnichannel Point-of-Sale application by GK, automating workflows and helping make finance and store staff more efficient by providing them with a unified, integrated solution.

“Now you start gathering all this information from a customer perspective,” Casanova says. “Replatforming, data mining, building our data lakes to just clean the data, because back in those days it was so many systems, the data was not consistent. Now we’re having one single point of entry. We migrated 200,000 retail customers from TravisMathew to us.”

Those customers, Casanova explains, were in a kind of “sleep” stage — in the database but not active. When Callaway launched the new PoS application, it also launched a new contact form that would allow it to relate new purchases to existing customers to generate a customer history, with extra loyalty points as an enticement.

“This was really successful,” Casanova says. “It’s been four years now since we launched the loyalty program from TravisMathew and we already have a million subscribers.”

For the IT team, the new PoS application meant they could monitor the system environment for all TravisMathew stores from a single location, enabling them to identify and address maintenance issues quickly. Data could also be shared automatically between the head office and individual stores, streamlining finance processes. Automation eliminated the need for manual data entry, reducing errors and saving time.

Going global

That project laid the groundwork for the international expansion of Callaway’s various brands.

“Now, when I have a new country, I have 80% of my process, my system, everything already configured,” Casanova says. “What I do is simply go to the country to see if there’s any digitalization that I need to adapt, but it’s literally just switching on and off features.”

Since 2020, the company has done six big international rollouts — including replacing all the systems and installing all the stores in a new country — at an average of about three months for each rollout.

“What takes more time is literally the change management and training, rather than the system itself,” Casanova says. “I think the key is having this standardized solution using SAP in GK because it’s literally copy and paste. We add a new company code. The master data is the same. We have the image ready to deploy.”

For now, Callaway still runs everything on-premises on its own infrastructure because the company is not yet ready from a structural standpoint to make the transition to the public cloud.

“You have all these domains, network-wise it’s very difficult to get employees, payroll, everything else — it takes time,” Casanova says.

He and his team have focused on enabling the business from a front-end perspective, but the plan over the coming year is to migrate the back end from its on-prem infrastructure to the public cloud.

Digital Transformation

Over the past two decades, cloud computing has evolved from a method that utilized extra data center capacity to the mission-critical infrastructure across enterprises that we see today. But along the way, the transformation and dramatic growth of the cloud have created increasingly complex, multi-account, and multi-region environments that can hinder, rather than accelerate, a company’s ability to deploy and manage globally connected networks.

Enterprise IT groups struggling with this complexity can transform their environments through new cloud-based networking architectures that stress simplicity across multi-environment connections, while also providing additional flexibility that can help reduce overall costs.

“Enterprises should be able to move anything, anywhere, at any time, for any reason,” says Robert DeWeese, Chief Cloud Architect of Next Generation Network & Edge Computing at Kyndryl. “This includes the ability to treat the network as a roadmap for adopting new features and technologies, so that when something new comes along, you can take advantage of it.”

DeWeese says that the complexity issues around multi-cloud and multi-region environments first surfaced when enterprises began creating multiple accounts for their cloud projects and then had to figure out how to effectively connect those accounts.

“They often had to do a complex workaround of networking, VPNs, and other components to make the infrastructure work,” he says. AWS, recognizing the growing complexity, has continued to build out its connectivity services. In 2018 it launched AWS Transit Gateway, the first big evolution in cloud networking. “Transit Gateway changed the game, enabling you to connect one account to another without a complex set of workarounds to bring traffic back to one data center just to go back into another account, or connect a VPN from one account to another,” says DeWeese.

More recently, AWS developed AWS Cloud WAN, which sits on top of Transit Gateway and makes it easier to build, manage, and monitor a global network that connects resources running across cloud and on-premises environments.

“Cloud WAN is different than older technologies in that it’s a managed service,” says Puneet Chopra, Global Domain Leader, Enterprise Networks, SDN and Cloud Based Networking with Kyndryl. The Cloud WAN service delivers three main capabilities to enterprises: automation, orchestration, and agility, which combine to reduce go-to-market times.”

“Now enterprises have a single point of control from where they can configure multiple VPC networks through a drop-down policy, the logic of which via APIs is built in the Cloud WAN, saving immense time,” says Chopra. 

Kyndryl’s Network and Edge Practice has certified and skilled technology experts who can help configure Cloud WAN and Transit Gateway to meet client needs, along with business experts who can provide guidance on the business model to deliver better ROI. “That ROI perspective is important because CIOs and CFOs are often making these purchase decisions together,” says Chopra.

Eliminating the need for complex workarounds

Additional Cloud WAN benefits include:

A single, unified, global point of control that lets users configure an entire network from one network policyA centralized dashboard, monitoring and event bus that shows physical and logical topologiesBuilt-in automation that lets users define their own routing, propagation, and attachment mapping that defines segment relationships through policyAutomatic network creation by AWS (through peering and dynamic routing) based on AWS Region definitions in a core network policy.

Together, Transit Gateway and Cloud WAN give organizations more flexibility in their cloud environments by eliminating the need for complex workarounds. These advances can help organizations simplify their end-to-end connectivity infrastructure to improve speed to execution – which benefits all aspects of the business.

It’s important to work with a trusted partner to configure and deploy the services properly. Learn more about how Kyndryl and AWS are innovating to achieve transformational business outcomes for customers.


As healthcare providers emerge from the operational disruptions caused by the global pandemic, IT and business leaders are renewing their focus on “quality”– specifically, have digital investments provided quality and value for IT systems; is technology improving quality for caregivers inside facilities; and have digital transformation efforts enhanced the patient experience and the quality of care they’re receiving?

Trent Sanders, director of U.S. Healthcare & Life Sciences at Kyndryl, says much has changed for healthcare providers over the past three years. “2020 was reaction mode,” he says. “Healthcare providers kept the lights on and sprinted to solve problems like suddenly having to serve 50% of your population via telehealth.”

In 2021, he says, healthcare providers could see a light at the end of the tunnel, “so there was a lot of planning and preparation to open back up.”

2022, he says, “is all about action and execution. That’s why we’re seeing significant pressure at the board level around technology value realization – are we getting results from the areas where we placed our bets?”

The key for success in many of these new digital transformation efforts will be collaborating with partners in areas such as technology modernization, security, data, and artificial intelligence (AI). “Companies like Amazon and Kyndryl are coming together to help organizations and their employees perform,” says Sanders. “This concept is especially true in healthcare, where many companies are ingrained in decades-old processes that inhibit their ability to modernize.”

Many digital transformation efforts require a level of digital expertise that many organizations are not equipped to handle. “Hospitals and large payer institutions are not in the core business of IT,” Sanders says. “They are in the core business of how to improve the caregiver experience and improve the member population.”

It’s safe to say that healthcare providers, just like organizations in most industries, have moved some applications or workloads to the cloud. But there’s been a slower shift of mission-critical workloads, which in the case of healthcare providers include electronic health records (EHR) applications and imaging systems. Moving those systems to the cloud to make them more scalable, more secure, and more accessible – and enhancing them with advanced analytics and AI capabilities – is an important next step.

“It’s now about taking great technology, great services, and merging together in a programmatic approach to align to better caregiver and patient outcomes,” says Sanders. “Moving an EHR system to the cloud is not the outcome. The outcome is what you can do with it once it’s there.

“It’s also about the services that you wrap around it,” he says. “For example, taking advantage of AWS’s AI and machine learning capabilities to do population and health modeling much faster than you could before.”

The scale, performance, and advanced capabilities of the cloud will help healthcare organizations justify future investments in digital transformation to drive better caregiver and patient experiences and improve the quality of healthcare.

Learn more about how Kyndryl and AWS are innovating to help healthcare providers and other organizations achieve transformational business outcomes.

Cloud Computing

Over the past few years, technological and business advancements have created increasingly grand expectations. Your customers expect an “always on” experience. (Today, you can also add “always fast,” “always intuitive,” “always successful,” and so on.) Fundamentally, if customers find it too difficult to engage digitally with your business, they’ll engage elsewhere.

Digital transformation: The implications for network operations

Meeting heightened customer expectations is basically what digital transformation is all about. In the race to meet these expectations, speed innovation, and stay competitive, organizations continue to adopt transformational technologies and services, such as cloud offerings, SaaS, SD-WAN, and more.

However, by adopting these approaches, network operations (NetOps) teams have to contend with some fundamentally different requirements and challenges. In the past, organizations like yours had data centers and remote offices, which were all connected via a network your teams owned and managed. Your NetOps teams had full visibility and control; they knew every packet, route, and device on the network.

Today, your NetOps teams are contending with a completely different paradigm. Now, critical services are fundamentally reliant upon networks that the NetOps team doesn’t own, manage, or have visibility into. 

The result is that NetOps teams contend with more complexity, while their ability to meet their charters erodes. According to recent research, 74% of enterprises are planning to deploy 10 or more new network technologies over the next two years. In addition, 81% currently report they have network monitoring blind spots. Another report found that between 2018 and 2022, the percentage of NetOps teams that are successful with their overall missions has declined from  47% to 27%.

Why is NetOps getting so difficult, and how can you beat these odds? Keep reading.


The advantages and NetOps obstacles of transformation

The adoption of SD-WAN, cloud, and SaaS, and the widespread reality of hybrid work have completely changed NetOps. While each innovative approach offers advantages, it also introduces NetOps challenges.

Public cloud

Public cloud services are popular because they offer organizations flexibility, lower costs, and more rapid deployments. But these services present entirely different traffic patterns than those of the past. The reliance upon external, third-party networks presents significant blind spots. This results in lengthy troubleshooting times, increased operations costs, and greater risk of user experience issues.


Similarly, the adoption of SD-WAN presents both advantages and challenges. These technologies can give the business a more secure and cost-effective highway to the cloud. However, SD-WAN can also leave already-stretched NetOps teams contending with tens of thousands of new events and alarms. Further, SD-WAN vendors don’t offer coverage of cloud networks, your data centers, or the Wi-Fi networks work-from-home users rely upon.


Replacing legacy apps with SaaS can provide an array of benefits, including reduced infrastructure and operational costs. However, you also lose visibility and control when your users start relying on apps that are running outside your data center.

Work-from-home models

The move to hybrid and work-from-home models provides many advantages, enabling employees to be productive, no matter where they may be. However, without a way to gain insights into the ISP and local Wi-Fi networks users rely upon, your NetOps teams have no way to spot and preempt potential issues. They’re stuck reacting to problems after the fact, and the business is saddled with diminished productivity.


Don’t let the “gotchas” of digital transformation get you. Make sure your digital transformation plans include a plan for NetOps transformation. It is only by gaining visibility and control of modern, hybrid network ecosystems that you can safeguard service levels and maximize the potential of your transformations.

To learn more about Experience-Driven NetOps, visit Broadcom.

Digital Transformation

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

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 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