Enterprise silos and digital transformation
There is much talk about how digital transformation is important and how this is going to change the future of the enterprises. Each of the proponents of digital are talking about how silo-ed the enterprises are and how it is necessary to break the silos in order to achieve the transformation or get perished in the coming time.
How can enterprises live in the ‘imperfect world that works’ of theirs and still transform itself? In my experience, I have seen that even digital needs re-organizing that cannot just be described as ‘start up mentality’. It should go beyond that. While startups are focused on doing ONE thing right, enterprises often have many services and products to cater to (that’s why they are enterprises in first place). Enterprises are organized for a reason (not debating right or wrong) and it should be helpful to leverage it for transforming digitally.
A suggested structure for enterprises leverages both its various silos and also binds them together into a collaborative governance model. The key point to remember is that these are virtual teams and except for the Labs, they are all spread in existing organization structures of the enterprise. In this model, there are four principle constituent of the structure –
- Enabler teams
- Platform teams
- Experiences teams
- Lab team
Enabler teams: This is the foundation pillar for the transformation. The members in these teams know ‘How Stuff Works’. They are aware of the state of the union for various SORs, Data sources, services that are internal to the organization but are important digital assets that are going to be leveraged to offer new digital experiences and for the transformed organization to work. They are responsible to identify the digital assets for the enterprise and enable these to be exposed to the internal and external consumers of these assets.
Platform teams: This is the governing organization and cornerstone for the enterprise in their digital transformation. One of the way platform is defined as a set of rules that two parties need to adhere to in order to exploit opportunities and do business with each other eg uber defines how a cab seeker and a cab driver can do business on its platform. In enterprises, this can be related to centralized and decentralized controls. This organization controls, how internal digital assets are exposed within and outside the organization. Access controls, policies, metering of consumption etc. It also acts as central control that determines priorities eg in case of a bank, this organization can control the fact that a ATM finding API is less important as compared to check submission API and hence it would apply policies that can, at times ensure that if there is a choice to be done about throttling traffic then which one takes priorities. This organization can play with the monetization and other policies for the enterprise assets internally to ensure that they have best of the policies enforced externally. They also ensure a consistent way of dealing with multiple channels so that there are no overheads of duplicating effort across channels.
Experience Teams: These are front ending organization for the enterprises. These are key to the success just like the sales organizations are key to success in bringing up new business. These organizations leverage the enabler organization’s output and capabilities of the platform to change the experiences of the customers dealing with the enterprises. These could be existing experiences or it could be totally new experiences delivered. They also provide insights to the other organizations from their understanding of customer needs and wants to offer newer and better products to the customers. The other organizations use these insights to expose newer digital assets and devise ways to easily incorporate those in the platform. The experience organization aids this by conducting hackathons that involves internal and external stakeholders and generate new ideas that have potential.
Lab Team: This is the only team that is (probably) need to be created separately and operated differently than other teams described above. This works very closely with the other teams to provide them R&D support for new and cutting edge technologies. These would also support the experience organization to deliver quick and effective PoCs during their Hackathons and bring the ideas to life. Once the ideas are accepted they can get through the other organizations’ life cycles to production and go to market. This organization works very closely like a startup. They often have not so clear charters and hence need resources that can live and breathe in various shades of grey. They will evaluate technologies and recommend what works and what doesn’t. To that extent they should have acute knowledge of the rest of the organization.
Lastly, the structure in itself will not deliver the results. Each components of the structure has to work in unison with a single vision – a vision to transform the organization, a culture to accept the risks and rewards, a mindset to offer something different and disruptive to stay ahead.