business, bussiness transformation, cxo, MassTLC, transformation

Business Transformation: Creating an Agile Business Strategy

Article by Peter
Gorman, Founder & Principal, Black Rocket Communications
The shift over to a knowledge economy has brought with it an
influx of emerging technologies, shorter business cycles, savvier consumers,
policy and regulatory implications, along with a number of other ever-changing
factors and circumstances. With this, companies are looking at new and
innovative ways in which to keep up with these changes while staying one step
ahead of their competition.
transformation prevents complacency in the market, encourages competitiveness,
and induces the creativity and innovation is needed in today’s marketplace. But
business transformation
can come in a number of ways. According to a recent Forbes/KPMG study, 93% of
900 respondents have completed, are planning, or are currently going through a
transformation. This begs the question of whether executives are knowledgeable
about the correct ways of transforming their businesses.
Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council’s
(MassTLC) May 28th CXO Forum, “Business Transformation: Creating an
Agile Business Strategy,” addressed this topic and offered local executives an
open discussion and case examples on the key reasons for transforming their
at MassTLC’s event included:

to start of the panel discussion, Heather Carey (@heathercarey), spoke about her
development of the MassTLC Education Foundation. This noteworthy, new venture
helps foster the education of K-12 grade students in the field of computer
science. “Approximately 65% of today’s elementary school students will
eventually gain employment in jobs that require some form of technology. Yet,
there are no formal education programs in computer science education today,”
said Carey. “Our goal is to raise awareness of the need for computer science
standards within our elementary schools and to transform the K-12 programs
within the Commonwealth, so that our children are better prepared for their
futures.” While much preparation has been underway, the Education Foundation
officially launched this month. For more information about the Education
Foundation and to support this cause, please visit: http://masstlcef.org/
Allred, Market Manager of Silicon Valley Bank, moderated the CXO forum and
kicked off the discussion by offering metrics on the top triggers that cause
businesses to transform, which, according to Allred, include domestic
competition (30%); change in technology (29%); and changes in customer demand
first on the panel, Mohamad Ali highlighted the waves of transformation in the
tech sector from mainframes to client/server, and from the Internet to social,
mobile, analytics and cloud computing (SMAC).
the emergence of mobile and Cloud computing, Ali emphasized the need for
security, stating that it is a necessary component of Big Data. He also spoke
about the need for businesses to shift in order to stay ahead of competition
and his involvement in doing this by partnering with smaller companies.
2005, I worked at IBM DB2 with Tom Reilly,
HP’s VP and General Manager, Enterprise Security Products,” said Ali.
“Technically, it was a bad company. The market didn’t care where you stored
your data, but what you could do with it. In our efforts to improve DB2, we
added stacks of capabilities on top of the data, including ETL (extract,
transfer and load); federation (ability to point to specific data); and a BPM
layer that was acquired from Filenet. In doing so, we helped transform the old
DB2 business into Business Analytics, which today, is a major part of IBM’s
business offerings.”
Vandebroek spoke about Xerox’s transformation from what is typically known as a
printer company to much more. “While we manage over 1.15 million printers for
clients, 75 percent of our revenues come from services,” said Vandebroek.
Xerox’s client services today include the processing of information within
hospitals, insurance providers and payers, customer care, as well as other
areas. Xerox was able to transform itself to manage these services with its
acquisition of Affiliate Computer Services (ACS) in 2010.
transformation is not based on acquisitions alone. “To best manage
transformation, you must know how to leverage your resources. You must truly
understand the pain points and dreams of your customers.” Vandebroek explained
that Xerox often hosts “dreaming sessions” with its clients to better
understand their pain points and desires, as well as to quickly address how to
address these needs. She also stressed the importance of diversity within corporate
environments and the need for businesses to create open ecosystems. “You need
to be prepared to make mistakes and to learn from them. You also need to be
prepared to determine where you want to be.”

Weiler of Oracle discussed Oracle’s transformations over the years through
organic R&D, as well as through acquisitions – of which, there have been
many. According to Weiler, over the last nine to ten years, Oracle has acquired
about a hundred companies. Oracle’s roughly $40 billion in revenues can, in
part, be attributed to these types of business transformations.
many business owners understand the need to transform their businesses, many
don’t know the correct methods of going about it,” said Weiler. “Executives are
often so focused on making improvements to their technology, they are not aware
of how it should be monetized and if there is a market for it,” added Weiler. According
to Weiler, executives looking for successful transformation must ask themselves
whether there is a market for their offering; determine if it is a product or a feature; and whether it is sustainable.
constant flux of integration between products and companies, Weiler spoke to
how businesses need to constantly transform themselves to adjust to these
changes. “Just a few years ago, we’d go on a trip and bring a laptop, a camera,
a cell phone and perhaps a video camera. Today, all of this technology exists
within our smartphones. Integration has always won in business…and since the
development of the Internet, I’ve never seen a bigger time for transformation,”
said Weiler. “Not too long ago, 70 percent of all tech spend was by
corporations. This has since flipped, with the consumers now being the top buyers
of technology.”
cited Williams Sonoma and Nordstrom’s as examples of businesses that got it
right and understood trends early on. These were the first retailers to provide
omni-channel retail marketing, allowing customers to easily read web site
content and make purchases on a variety of devices, from their PCs to iPads,
and smart phones. He also spoke to importance of knowing your company’s metrics
and urged executives at the forum to run their businesses as if they were
public. “Operating your business on a balanced growth model is critical. When
Oracle investigates companies for potential acquisitions, understanding why an
executive needs three pre-sales people for every sales rep gives us tremendous
insight into how their company is run and whether their product is difficult to
sell,” said Weiler.
number of interesting topics were discussed the CXO forum’s Q&A session including:
  • The
    importance of Massachusetts to the tech market
  • The
    amount of time that businesses dedicate to getting in front of trends
  • Getting
    people to accept transformation
  • Inorganic
    growth, or how to go about making your company attractive for an acquisition

resources and excellent universities were among the top reasons why the
panelists at the forum see Massachusetts important to the tech economy. While
Oracle currently has approximately 500 employees in Massachusetts, many through
its acquisitions of Endeca and Phase Forward, Vandebroek wished there were more
larger tech companies headquartered in the state.
how to get in front of market trends, Vandebroek discussed the importance of
working closely with disruptive partners to learn from them and target your
next move. She made the similarities of watching business trends to keeping
your financial portfolio diversified. Weiler highlighted the importance of
having technologists on your team that have vision and spoke to the constant
morphing among businesses, citing how an insurance customer of Oracle’s
recently wanted to learn more about retail. Ali added that, while we are
focused on SMAC now, we would likely see a transformation in about ten years
back to decentralized technology; whereas Vandebroek envisions a trend towards
consumerism and personalization, which includes analytics and business
discussing how to get people to accept transformation, Ali sees a constant evolution
of new and changing markets as a result of business transformation – such as
the increasing need for security as a result of mobile and Cloud offerings,
referring to what Ray Ozzie coined as “digital exhaust.”
terms of positioning one’s company for an acquisition, Ali recommends becoming
a business partner, as it enables the larger companies to better understand
your products and your overall business models. Weiler added that Oracle’s
customer needs are a key driver of what they look for when acquiring companies
or their technologies.
final comments of the Q&A, the importance of knowing the market and in not
being afraid to pull the trigger on cannibalizing one’s older business models
were emphasized by Weiler. While understanding the right time to pivot one’s
business strategies top focus on newer trends, such as the Cloud, Ali added
that executives should also not ignore their traditional offerings.
this highly informative CXO session helped seed ideas in the minds of business
executives on the importance of transforming their businesses to lead
competition, drive innovation and position their companies for future organic
and inorganic growth. MassTLC’s CXO Series brings together the executive
leadership of Massachusetts’ tech companies to share insights, learn about
leading trends and foster discussion that can result in great innovation and
growth. The series consists of two annual forums (one in the spring and one in
the fall), several smaller round table discussions held throughout the year,
and a VIP reception in December. 

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