In my previous post, I wrote about the challenges faced by Technology and Marketing as the organization embarks on digital transformation. The link to the post is here .
For serious transformation to occur, Technology needs to transform from being perceived as a cost center to becoming a change enabler for the organization. Similarly, Marketing has a very important role, to educate and add value to customers, partners and employees in every single touchpoint with authentic interactions. They have primary responsibility of elevating the brand by amplifying and unifying the key messaging for the organization. In this post, I will focus on how a simplification, consolidation and rationalization initiative is the first step that the CIO takes towards this goal. This is going to pave way for a CMO to have a much more tightly integrated and simplified martech stack.
Let’s start with the question – what is a Simplification, Consolidation and Rationalization initiative?
A simplification consolidation and Rationalization initiative aims to standardize, optimize and maximize the utilization of technologies, people and processes within an organization. There are a number of strategies that can be employed to advance this goal :
Cloud 1st strategy:
1) Leverage 3rd party cloud services for everything that is non-core IP.
2) Take a chef knife at any applications or infrastructure being developed in-house.
3) Leverage open source stacks where possible.
Data 1st strategy:
1) Take control of your data. Ensure its stored, captured and re-usable without any legal or IT constraints.
2) Create a strategy for leveraging the data to drive ML/AI initiatives.
2) Ensure all applications are available on devices.
3) Subscription model – negotiate a use model versus user model similar to Slack.
4) Collaboration – deploy best-in-class tools like Slack/Zoom to broaden collaboration within and externally.
5) Consolidate applications – as we have going through the “Age of Marketing” the number of applications has grown out of control. There are multiple platforms such as Adobe, Sitecore, Acquia, Epi, Bloomreach, contentful etc. depending on your needs and budget.
6) Think headless, microservices, containerization and serverless for design at scale
It’s time to reign in.
1) Single sign-on strategy across all applications. Deploy tools like Okta.
2) Enforce 2-factor authentication, encrypted disks, cloud backups for every device.
3) Ensure your data is stored and backed up different clouds and regions.
4) Perform real-time threat analysis with looks like AlertLogic Cloud Defender.
5) Leverage trusted and virus scanned virtual images
6) Perform background checks on all employees.
7) Create bounty program for threats leveraging companies like HackerOne.
8) Security by design is more than a concept. Apply it upfront with any new initiatives.
Keys to Success:
1) Identify and nominate Simplification Champions within the organizations. Align them with Change Control.
2) Review current short to medium term projects that can drive simplification and modernization within the portfolio
3) Prioritize retirement and replacement of old applications with risk vs value analysis. Enforce retirement of outdated systems as a business value to new system introduction
4) Ensure visibility to senior leadership to help accelerate adoption of mindset.
Transitioning to a digital first, cloud enabled, data driven paradigm does require some intermediate steps. Here are some things to consider :
1) Data interchange and functionality abstraction : In most cases, organization in throes of digital transformation will have a whole bunch of siloed systems that move around data via flat files. An intermediate step could be using an API technology. It allows for 2 things:
a) Expose data in a secure and seamless way to the rest of the ecosystem
b) Layer abstraction over how this is done for a future replacement
2) Lower Cost using Off the Shelf hardware: Reducing hardware spend by replacing old, expensive, proprietary hardware with generic hardware and applying virtualization can reduce upkeep costs, reduce risk and increase infrastructure optimization
3) Process optimization: This is a good time to re-imagine and simplify processes or journeys.
The strategies and initiatives shared above drive digital transformation and accelerate customer-centric behavior across the organization. However, It is also an intensely challenging time for people in the organization as the status quo is being replaced. Inspiring the team through leadership, taking the time to communicate about the changes, their implications and how it positions the organization for success in the future and putting a comprehensive program to up-skill and align people is essential in building organizational morale and preparing them for the exciting times ahead.