Leading Digital Transformation


Today’s IT leaders are challenged like never before to innovate. Forward-thinking leaders are changing the game for their organizations. They’re improving the employee and customer experience; fueling innovation; and developing new business models that leave competitors in the dust.

In the Leading Digital Transformation track at VMworld 2017 US and Europe, VMware IT leaders, practitioners, and customers presented sessions loaded with pragmatic guidance to help IT leaders stay on the forefront of innovation for their organizations.

Out of the 30-plus sessions in the track, we captured key takeaways from select sessions. Click on the session name to get the details:

We hope you find these summaries interesting and helpful in your work toward innovation and digital transformation.

Automation Deployed: Now What? Four Different Perspectives of Day 2 Operations in an Automated Environment

Presenters: Michael McGowan, Senior Manager Cloud Strategy and Engineering, TIAA-CREF; Steve Schofield, Senior Systems Engineer, Amway; Nabeel Chaudhri, Senior Manager, Johnson & Johnson; Curt Johnson, Program Manager, Verizon; Joe DePasquale, Team Lead/Staff Technical Account Manager, VMware

Technology is the easy part. It is people and process that must change. Presenters from Amway, Johnson & Johnson, TIAA-CREF, and Verizon Business discussed the business cases that supported the move to automation and how automation impacted their organizations. The panel covered people and process issues, skills needed for success, technical challenges, and business outcomes.

Key Takeaways
IT managers often need to reverse their thinking about the importance of executive support. For example, they might think application development is hard enough, so getting executive buy-in on their IT initiative should be easy.

  • However, it’s critical for the IT team to prove its value; executive support cannot be overlooked.
  • IT must provide a cost-benefit analysis when speaking to any IT initiative.

The following factors are critical for success:

  • Be sure to sell your service internally; you can’t just put a product or initiative out there and expect adoption from your peers. You need to explain why it is relevant.
  • Create humble, reachable goals.
  • Enlist engineers as your champions.
  • Leverage teams like professional services to help get operations off the ground and to establish best practices.
  • Fight the inclination to deploy complicated services. Keep it simple. Start by accomplishing the minimum requirements and scale from there.

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CIO Whisperer: How to Successfully Become Your CIO’s Trusted Technology Advisor

Presenters: Bask Iyer, EVP and CIO, VMware and Dell EMC; Elan Yanovsky, Principal Business Solutions Strategist, VMware

CIOs often find themselves caught between the business hammer and the technology anvil. Today’s business needs a swift technology and operations response that’s hard to deliver with existing IT infrastructure. It’s time for technologists to step forward and stand alongside their CIOs.

Drawing on his experience of having gone through several successful IT transformations in his career, Bask Iyer shared tips on how technologists can use their technology know-how and business acumen to enable successful transformation.

Key Takeaways
When your colleagues are your customers:

  • IT is no longer just a service; it’s now a business. So your colleagues are basically your customers and stakeholders.
  • You must give guardrails and guidelines to your customers. Don’t let them blindly request projects that won’t pan out.

When you feel like you’re always saying “no”:

  • In IT, sometimes it feels like we’re always saying “no” to new projects due to compliance, security, or scale-related issues.
  • Not all of this burden should fall to IT. it is important to loop in HR or legal when appropriate, so you can have the support of others around you.
  • For example, at VMware when IT started a program to archive employee emails, there was a backlash rooted in privacy issues. Bask’s team partnered with Legal to drive home the importance of doing so, not just from an IT viewpoint but also from legal and compliance perspectives.

When it comes to innovation:

  • Operations is the number one priority, but strategy should always be a close second.
  • If day-to-day operations aren’t good, you have neither the business nor the credibility to talk forward-looking IT strategy.
  • If operations are good, don’t continue to just talk day-to-day. Begin forward-looking thinking and IT strategy roadmaps.

When working with millennials:

  • Reverse mentoring is key; millennials have just as much to contribute as senior execs.
  • Millennials want a day job that is going to make a meaningful impact. It is important to tie day-to-day operations back to the bottom line, towards the company’s overall mission statement.
  • Give millennials meaningful work; don’t just give them the tasks more senior employees don’t want to do.
  • Be authentic and consistent.

Bask’s three “don’ts”:

  • Don’t sit down with me and ask me my top three priorities or concerns; you should come to this meeting already knowing them.
  • Don’t play politics internally.
  • Don’t just talk technology; people and process are equally important.

Tips for driving business transformation:

  • To help push change, treat your IT team with respect. Look at everyone as a colleague.
  • When approaching the CIO with new ideas, bring data points to help make your case.
  • Try pretotyping, which is essentially prototyping at a micro-scale.

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Determining IT’s Value Proposition in a Cloud-Based Age: Introducing the Minimal Viable Operating Model (MVOM)

Presenter: Ian Barraclough, Senior Director IT, IHS Markit

Development teams need to move fast to deliver quality product within challenging deadlines. IT’s ticket-based systems, emails, and phone calls aren’t seen as giving development teams what they need. How do we get IT and development teams to see eye to eye and agree on a common framework for infrastructure delivery and management?

In his session, Ian discussed how the Minimal Viable Operating Model (MVOM) helps provide this framework for redefining and addressing the role of IT within a developer’s world. By applying MVOM, the IT organization can be seen as a value-providing, service-oriented agent of positive change.

Key Takeaways
Successful adoption of public cloud:

  • To successfully adopt public cloud, IT leaders must understand and adopt new operating models.
  • There will be more than one operating model, but likely less than a handful (e.g., DevOps, colo, white glove).
  • Each operating model will be clearly based upon a RACI.
  • Each operating model might have slightly different policies.
  • An IT project will define the minimum baseline components of the operating model (MVOM).

Guiding Principles of MVOM:

  • Transparency – IT provides transparency into the what, why, and when and operates so it’s easy for others to see how actions are performed. IT looks to provide services in such a way that teams don’t even know they are there. They just happen and they work.
  • Predictability – IT strives for repeatable processes, outcomes, and performances.
  • Customer driven – IT focuses on finding out what its customers need and how to get that to them. At the same time, IT works passionately to keep and earn customer trust.
  • Innovate and simplify – IT expects and requires innovation but also finds ways to simplify. Challenge the status quo.
  • Speed matters – When appropriate, IT focuses on iterative delivery. Many decisions and actions are reversible and do not need extensive study today.
  • Automation – Automate everything!
  • Policy-based enforcement, management, and visibility – If IT cannot define “standard” in a word that can be automated, it’s not a policy.
  • Team – IT is a commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) organization and out-of-the-box team; IT is not a custom development team.

Guidelines for implementing MVOM:

  • There will be a tendency to bring existing practices into cloud. Don’t do this; it doesn’t work.
  • It is imperative to provide stakeholders with guiderails for their cloud adoption.
  • Apply policy-based consistent governance. Look to create consistency where applicable and to advance current cloud implementations where possible.
  • Always prioritize end-to-end security.
  • Develop customer-driven services.
  • Create project scope forms with easy-to-understand descriptions, business requirements, and dependencies/impacts.
  • Use terms that will resonate with stakeholders.

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Digital Transformation Starts with IT: How to Think and Act like an Innovative CIO

Presenters: Craig Fletcher, Senior Manager, VMware; Joseph Griffiths, Senior Solutions Architect, VMware

In today’s world of explosive technology evolution, staying current and in the forefront of executives’ minds is a major challenge for all IT organizations. Too often, IT is viewed as a cost center that slows down business progress. To remain relevant to the business, IT must become a proactive partner—or face extinction. But there’s no reason for this to happen: IT is more important than ever in the board room, but only if we play our cards right.

In this session, Craig and Joseph discussed prescriptive techniques for evolving IT into a change agent for the business and presented tools that help IT leaders become business leaders.

Key Takeaways
Speak to execs in a different, business-driven language:

  • Discuss IT initiatives in the context of “What will help to make the business more money?”
  • Tell “Sesame Street–simple” stories to your business leaders.
  • Develop business acumen by getting to know business people (e.g., establishing a mentorship with someone on the business side), reading business books, taking training classes, and practicing the skills you’ve learned with your mentor.
  • Market yourself to the business; your business value is based upon perception, not dollars and cents.

Also communicate your business value to your team:

  • Categorize all IT initiatives in business terms:
    • Keep an IT plan of record.
    • Determine business outcomes for each initiative.
    • Categorize each as cost saving vs. revenue generating.
    • Categorize each as run/growth/transform.
  • Hold a quarterly all-hands review:
    • Begin the meeting with the state of the business.
    • Show key IT metrics aligned to business metrics.
    • Review your innovation pipeline.
    • Be sure to rally the troops around your goals.

Understand the guiding principles for innovation management:

  • What are the business benefits (reduce risk, staff productivity, generate revenue, etc.)?
  • Do we already have something?
  • Does a strategic vendor offer a similar capability?
  • Can we fund it? (Is it aligned with the business? Is it funded by IT or the business?)
  • Can we fund it long-term or more broadly?
  • How do we handle change management (adoption, integration, etc.)?

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IT Transformation at VMware

Presenters: Avon Puri, VP, Business IT, VMware; Duncan Hewett, SVP and GM, Asia Pacific and Japan, VMware

Digital transformation driven by software, cloud, mobile, and big data is significantly changing the way VMware runs business and IT. VMware IT is well along on its journey of digital transformation. The first step was to recognize that IT is a key partner in driving business agility.

In this session, Avon and Duncan talked about how VMware, using the private cloud as a foundation, began transforming IT to help the business thrive in a digital environment.

Key Takeaways

IT transformation at VMware required evolving from back-office player to change catalyst. The VMware IT team succeeded by

  • Providing flexible solutions and services instead of delivering products and complex systems.
  • Switching from a waterfall development approach to a continuous integration/continuous development (CI/CD) one, which means shorter development cycles and more frequent releases.
  • Developing an integrated application plan designed to streamline processes through automation and boost employee productivity.
  • Delivering real-time instead of stale data, so the business has access to right data at the right time for improved decision-making and increased agility.
  • Introducing consumer-grade mobile apps to enhance the user experience and employee productivity while maintaining corporate compliance.
  • Shifting the IT mindset to adopt a new operating model that focuses on delivering an optimal user experience.

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IT Transformation: Data Center to Cloud

Presenter: Velchamy Sankarlingam, VP, Cloud Services, VMware

A major transformation is underway in the IT industry. IT has moved from supporting data centers to providing cloud services. IT has also evolved from an allocation model to a charge-back model for most services, from data center space to cloud capacity. This IT transformation is happening whether we want it or not. We have a choice of whether to lead or follow.

In his session, Velchamy discussed VMware IT’s transformation. He talked about how VMware internally manages its data center, public cloud, private cloud, and software-as-a-service offerings. Velchamy also discussed how to lead through the IT transformation to become more of a service provider and less of a cost center.

Key Takeaways
The beginning of private cloud:

  • VMware’s initial goals for private cloud were to have a highly available (running a revenue-generating workload) enterprise private cloud that was highly agile (fast turnaround of capacity and services) and cost-effective (cheaper than any other public or private alternative).
  • IT built a cloud operations model and team that was centrally funded until the different service options—data center, private cloud, and public cloud—could be moved to charge-back.
  • There was an executive cloud-first mandate for IT and all of VMware.

Journey into the public cloud:

  • Being the established internal service provider helped define and manage public cloud strategy. That meant IT was the single source for all services across the data center to the public cloud.
  • A clear SLA, cost model, and capability helped identify the right cloud for the workload.
  • Building solid private and public cloud use cases, such as disaster recovery and redundancy, added value.

Learnings for leadership:

  • Become an internal service provider.
    • Have a cost model where private cloud costs less than the alternatives.
    • Provide SLAs.
    • Make provisioning self-service for users.
  • Be the ones to lead change on public cloud.
    • Help define the strategy.
    • Give end users different service options and make the cloud the best option.
    • Provide metrics so end users can compare the different options.
    • Identify use cases for leveraging both the public and private cloud.

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Woman and Child Empowerment Using Digital India’s Federal Government Education Cloud Powered by VMware

Presenters: Hope Mcintosh, Director, Americas End-User Computing Sales, VMware; Shawn Bass, VP and CTO, End-User Computing, VMware; TJ Vatsa, Principal Architect, VMware; Neha Malhotra, General Manager, Country Governance, MGRM

VMware is empowering the education of India’s women and children by cloud-enabling all the federal government schools in the country. This Digital India educational governance initiative spans from rural India to urban areas, targeting the eradication of child labor and uplifting the status of women.

To deploy technologies that help turn the tide in the right direction, VMware partnered with MGRM, a global organization that specializes in creating products, services, and technology solutions covering the human lifecycle.

Key Takeaways
The partnership helped enhance early childhood education:

  • Reduced socioeconomic gap and its effects on school readiness, neurological, and later human capital development.
  • Increased parental awareness on children’s developmental needs in social, physical, sensory, behavioral, and other dimensions.
  • Helped timely attainment of child’s developmental milestones, even in inaccessible areas.
  • Improved maternal and child health by preventing morbidity and mortality.
  • Prevented nutritional deficiency, thus leading to better intellectual development.

The partnership helped empower and rehabilitate Indian women:

  • MGRM’s Medicare Division worked with local community councils in various states and countries to identify villages and families in need of opportunities.
  • The division then provided them with training in rehabilitative aids manufacturing and life skills that resulted in financial independence for many women in challenging situations.

The partnership also helped reduce India’s carbon footprint:

  • By digitizing day-to-day classroom operations, schools have been able to save on roughly 192,000 notebooks a year, in addition to untold hours of manual labor that lead to no productive outcome.
  • This reduction in notebooks has saved 9,600 trees per year and resulted in a surplus of US $300,000 for schools to allocate to other projects.

The adoption and rollout of the digital system was relatively easy:

  • India was raised in the mobile era, whereas countries like the United States are often still tied to desktop computers.
  • In India, similar projects don’t have to deal with legacy infrastructure like they often do in the United States.
  • Cloud is more cost-efficient for government customers, where end users only need access to apps and data at certain periods of time, not necessarily 24×7.

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