March 9, 2017

In my previous blogs I discussed the benefits accruing to enterprises that find hybrid cloud solutions to their ERP transformations. They are able to capture financial benefits as they convert CapEx spend to OpEx while retaining the security benefits of on-premises applications alongside the speed and agility of cloud-based applications. I described it as the best of both worlds. I wrote about the implementation phase and how companies are using simulation, prototyping and other agile methodologies to test the viability of new products in shorter timeframes.

But digital transformations including cloud adoptions arent only about choosing the right technology or configuring it correctly. They have major cultural implications too.

If poorly handled these cultural issues have the potential to jeopardize the whole migration program and potentially destroy enterprise value on a grand scale.

Moving away from traditional on-premises models is a cause of major upheaval within the IT function, changing its role and creating waves in other functions. If managed effectively this frees up resources, including capital and people, for innovation and new business ventures. It has the potential to be the catalyst for transformative change. Handled insensitively it leads to attrition, internal dysfunction, and external disruption of service that will send customers into the welcoming arms of competitors. Success in this realm requires senior executives who can clearly articulate a powerful message. It demands the ability to build and lead organizations that are responsive, adaptive and willing to learn.

Learning organizations have the most to gain from digital transformation.

The companies that succeed tend to be ones that have historically invested in training and encouraged their employees to be mobile. Theyve had policies of moving people around between divisions to build their skillsets and broaden their knowledge. Theyve typically been good at attracting talent from outside and integrating those new people into the organization. They are receptive. They learn. In a sense theyve been in training, making sure their people and processes are fit and ready for the challenge ahead whatever shape that takes. They take digital disruption in their stride.

These organizations are like the athlete whos keeping her body in shape, doing her stretches and modifying her training routine whether shes competing this week or not. When the time comes to train for her event she starts her build up regimen from a position of general wellbeing and fitness that gives her a springboard. The race, when it comes, is still grueling but shes geared for success.

So then the organizations that are keeping themselves in shape, training, learning, and adapting are ready for the race.

The decisions around moving away from traditional models to cloud must of course involve CTOs and their cohorts but making sure that other leaders are also engaged and prepared for the non-technology related challenges is a requisite. Its not only about the technology.

To know more read my article Accelerated Change: Getting faster at implementing Enterprise Systemsin our latest issue of Perspectives.

Akhilesh Tiwari is the Global Head of the SAP Practice at Tata Consultancy Services. He is responsible for driving the business growth and strategic direction of the SAP team – a dedicated group of talented consultants who work in close collaboration with SAP and TCS industry experts to design, implement and execute enterprise-wide projects for many Fortune 500 companies. Under his guidance, TCS has strengthened its long-standing relationship with SAP and delivered market-leading results for clients.