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Management of Change: where Digital Natives and Digital Transformation meet


I attended the IDC Directions [LINK:] conference in Boston a few weeks ago, and their focus for 2017 – which seems on the lips of every customer and partner these days – is digital transformation. Why? Because as they explained it, the demand is coming from the “digital natives” (or the millennial generation) who are now a significant player in the workforce and are controlling an ever-increasing share of spending.

As organizations struggle to meet the rising demand to serve digital natives in new ways, they face multiple internal obstacles which stand in the way of digital transformation. Their infrastructure needs to be reconceived and rebuilt, so that it is better orchestrated to be responsive to elastic demand. This includes adoption of hybrid IT cloud, converged and software defined infrastructure. The processes in place to manage IT – and notably apps development – are evolving to DevOps and Agile; nearly every IT organization that I’ve spoken to in the last year has some intention to adopt these methodologies, if not active efforts under way.

People: an organization’s largest variable in transformation

The most important variable in transformation is the resource that is most often overlooked: your people. The people in your organization need to be prepared to work successfully within new, transformed and continuously evolving environments. This is an apparent “secret”, as stated by Frost & Sullivan in their recent white paper titled: “Beyond Technology: The Secret to Successful IT Transformation Lies in Organizational Change.”

My reaction to this paper is to say, “yes, I agree.” Emphatically. People represent 70% of the root cause challenges in technology transformation. People can make or break the results derived from these investments. And, yes, unfortunately this still appears to be somewhat of a secret within organizations investing in technology transformation. The “soft” side of technology transformation, as Frost & Sullivan terms it, is most often under-supported and ignored.

I’m sure that most of us can relate to this problem. We’ve all experienced changes in our work environments. Whether large or small, changes cause disruption for us as people – for how we work, where we work, when we work, and with whom we work. The thing with digital transformation, is that these changes have larger implications than we’ve seen before not just within IT but in the use of technology by everyone in an organization. Digital technology is moving outside of a service layer and emerging in places that we haven’t seen it before – such as in the products that we sell to consumers with IoT, and in the services we provide to consumers through apps.

This level of change means that everyone in an organization is impacted in some way – and we can all relate to changes that have happened that we didn’t want, didn’t expect, and which we were not prepared to handle. This level of change can seem chaotic and overwhelming. It can shut people down.

HPE consulting teams have worked with thousands of organizations to enable transformation projects over decades of time. The common thread in all of these projects, is that people need to be prepared and supported through transformational change - and there are effective approaches to do that.

Some data points to consider for transformation impacts of digital transformation projects

In their paper, Frost & Sullivan reports the concerns that emerged as being among the top for IT decision-makers facing transformation – which are:

  • Changing operational processes (cited as a top-three concern by 27% of IT decision-makers)
  • Insufficient expertise in my own organization (cited by 25%)
  • Reorganizing the IT department (cited by 24%)
  • Gaining support from business leaders or LoB managers (cited by 22%)

What strikes me about this list, is that all of these problems relate to people and have very little to do with technology.

The Frost & Sullivan whitepaper goes on to cite the top 6 pitfalls that prevent transformation projects from being successful. These are:

  • In-adequate leadership support
  • Lack of communication
  • Poor feedback loops during the project from the people involved
  • Overambitious start – by which they mean over-reaching by aiming at the hardest problems first
  • Lack of metrics
  • Unchecked undercurrent of negativity

All of these factors again relate to people. People at every level in the organization need to be prepared and supported appropriately through change. This includes the stakeholders who need to know that the project is aligned to key initiatives, and on track to deliver results throughout the project. This includes the people in the project itself responsible for organizing and planning. This includes the teams impacted by the changes, who need to understand why the change is being made – and how it impacts their roles.

How can you address these challenges with change?

Frost & Sullivan encourages organizations investing in digital transformation, to bring in expert consulting teams – like HPE Pointnext consulting. We can talk to you about our HPE Management of Change (MoC) services, and help you to prepare and support your people as an integral part of your project.

About the Author


25+ years in high tech in various roles that include Consulting, Channel Mgmt, Product Mgmt and Marketing. Technology areas include storage and data management, high availability, cloud and hosting, networking, and mobility/wearable technology for enterprise, SMB , and channel business. Industries include healthcare, financial services, ISVs, Service Providers and telecos.

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