A digital reboot

It is almost two years since I last posted anything on this blog.

A lot happened in these two years. Remember in 2014 when every business conversation was all about Facebook, social and the social enterprise? And before that it was all about having a mobile presence and platform? And then it was all about big data?

2015 brought all these buzzwords together and to the ground. Suddenly we had the technology to carry out these ideas and conversations on how to use these technologies turned into mainstream. It was not just about outsourcing any longer. Nor was it just about technology & IT supporting business – it was much more now.

It was about leapfrogging transformation using the possibilities of technology.

Technology moved in 2015 from the back office to the enterprise front office. Enterprises are more interested in following technology trends in the Silicon Valley than they are in following best practices in the Outsourcing Capitals of Asia. Also the questions they ask themselves have changed – while operational excellence is still important, there is a limit to how much you can grow a business by cost cutting.

Technology can now drive revenues if you leverage it, or can bring down your current business model like a house of cards if you ignore it. And it is not about the individual technologies themselves, it is about how you can orchestrate this along with old & new business process to create new businesses & customers you never thought possible.


And when you are right in the midst of this storm as a consultant, you realise very quickly that what started out as a “digital transformation” is actually a business transformation.

Client conversations are very different today – they are all about how to steer and manage this change. Business Transformation using Technology can be intimidating – triggering more resistance than action.

Multiple topics that I had blogged about have now taken on a new meaning in this situation.  And almost every question that I had asked myself or explored 2 years ago just got challenged. There are new topics to explore.

It is time to reboot my blog.

photo credit: 8 via photopin (license)

Why defining your Transformation collaboratively can be one of the best business decisions you could make

At the heart of your outsourcing contract is usually the desire to get a better service at a lower cost. However as this article on Outsourcing from Stephanie Overby rightly points out, “….the typical outsourcing contract contains a paragraph committing the parties to develop a plan for transformation — and that’s it”.

If you are in the midst of defining the goals of your transformation, you are likely to face the following questions:

  • Should I define the transformation in isolation, or do it along with the provider?
  • How do I reach the balance between being prescriptive (tell the provider what to do) and looking for a solution (ask him what to do)?


Photo courtesy: Lego

I have achieved my best results by collaboratively defining Transformation. This is one of the unique advantages of an outsourcing dialog.

Be clear about what you want to achieve

  • You should be clear about the business goals of your program – state it clearly so that there is no ambiguity. Avoid buzz words.
  • But do not land into a “paralysis of analysis” – broadly define what you want to achieve and welcome ideas on how others have achieved the same or similar goals

Tap into the experience of your outsourcing provider

  • Ask your potential providers where they have helped other providers achieve similar goals.
  • Your questions should follow this line of thought: “what were these goals, how were they defined, how were they achieved?”
  • The answers to the above questions make sure that you stay in the “fact-domain”.
  • Do not fall into the trap of asking the provider how to achieve your goals – if you do this, you are forcing him to put on his “sales cap”.
  • Assume positive intent. Help your provider to show their technical and operational expertise.

Adapt your transformation approach in an iterative manner

  • Translate what you are hearing to your own situation
  • Questions that you need to ask yourself when you hear something interesting – does it fit? Why does it not fit? Is your situation similar? What are the parallels between your situation and what you have just heard?
  • It need not be applicable in its original form. However, can you adapt it or take pieces of what you are hearing to improve your own approach?
  • As you continue to do this – formulate your approach in greater detail and tune it based on the above inputs.
  • Take a reality check – what were the goals that you had initially defined for yourself and how these have adjusted over time after your dialog with your service provider. Are you satisfied with the changes you made?

Service providers who specialize in transformation do this as a living – and they get to see these situations everyday in varying circumstances and combinations.

Instead of forcing your provider to specify how to achieve your goals early in the game, you should tap into their experience. It is easy to forget this in the heat of the dialog.

How are you defining your transformational approach? Are you doing it collaboratively?

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