by: VMware Chief Information Officer Jason Conyard
Every enterprise is going through a digital transformation, although oftentimes that ends up easier said than done. For VMware IT, successfully turning digital transformation from an amorphous concept into reality involved both advanced technology and understanding the human factor.
From a pure technology standpoint, VMware IT has made tremendous strides in digital transformation. We have migrated more than 25,000 colleagues to applications like VMware Workspace ONE® and Office 365, and from Windows 7 to the Windows 10 platform. This shift has enabled unprecedented flexibility and choices in how users accomplish their work, in addition to making our entire enterprise more competitive and agile. It also brought up an all-new set of challenges.
Learning to be human, in a whole new way
Traditionally, IT organizations simply ‘forced’ new technologies on users and employees had to live with the results. But in the age of digital transformation, everything from a fiercely competitive job market to self-service apps has made that approach untenable. Put simply, people don’t like change, especially the endless change (including perpetual updates!) and disruption inherent with digital transformation. This can lead to disgruntled users or, worst case scenario, colleagues seeking jobs elsewhere. Acknowledging this mission-critical issue, VMware IT took a radically different approach to the problem and redefined the function of IT in the enterprise.
We started by engaging influencers who actually use the products/services early in the process (versus just leaders who can be guilty of forcing technology, too). Our teams don’t just listen—they take action on the input, even if our engineers disagree with what is said (a revolutionary shift in itself). We soon understood that change has to come gradually, and involve significant preparation/collaboration with all parties involved. IT alone is no longer the sole arbiter of what is best for the company. Once we get ‘buy in’ from these influencers, they act as amplifiers to share and evangelize information with their teams via ad-hoc conversations, social media, and similar.
Ignoring tradition—and setting IT free
Internally at IT, changes were even more dramatic as we migrated to a DevOps mentality. Now, team members are encouraged to reach out to colleagues without repercussions versus the old way of ‘going through proper channels.’ We implemented a horizontal IT structure that eliminated product silos—and aligned our efforts with the way our colleagues actually consume technology. In fact, engineers are no longer rewarded based exclusively on silo success, nor are they judged based on success or failure. Teams are encouraged to take risks and be bold, with failure and unsuccessful attempts at pre-typing/prototyping viewed as learning lessons, not negatives.
IT personnel are also proactive instead of simply being reactive. We are constantly seeking new ways technology/methodologies can both anticipate issues and resolve them before they ever affect an end user. For example, we developed our internal vApprove process that enables colleagues to obtain approvals and other associated tasks on the fly. A rousing success companywide, vApprove was developed proactively based on research, not demand.
All these initiatives have paid off. Today, colleagues view IT as an ally instead of a nemesis. Computerworld ranked VMware the #6 best place in the world to work in IT, and #3 in our enterprise size category. Digital transformation has become a great reality, and everything we have learned (and continue to learn) we share with our customers.
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