April 13, 2016

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The Transformation Mantra or simply re-engineering

Guilty. I’m guilty and a little ashamed. So I’m sorry. Sorry if I got a little too carried away with the whole “transformation” mantra. If you attended a meeting with me recently and I was singing from the hymn book, I promise not to do it again. I was drinking the kool aide and got caught up in the hype. Having been a consultant for a while now, it just seemed to make sense. I hope you know what I’m talking about. “Business Transformation”. You know, using technology to transform the business. Uh oh. There I go again with the T word.

We used to simply call it “business process re-engineering”. Makes sense, doesn’t it? Replace old outdated technology with newer technology and oh by-the-way, while you’re at it improve and streamline (automate?) business processes to improve efficiencies. Sounds so simple. And it was…

Until we introduced the TRANSFORM mantra. The more and more I think about it, it should be less about transforming and more about simply changing. Change you ask? Yes, change. And modernize. Uh oh, there he goes again. But you know, I actually like the modernize mantra. Unfortunately, in IT we associate modernization mostly with code. By application modernization we typically mean moving from legacy CoBOL to modern Java. But why? Why cant we think about change and modernization in terms of moving the needle just a little bit ahead. Innovation, you ask? Maybe. But lets start with change; move to modernization then we can go to transformation (if we so choose).

I think as consultants we sometimes focus on the unattainable (or at least a HUGE stretch), rather than simply focusing on the plausible (or possible). I have time and time again heard other consultants (and industry pundits) talk about transformation. But I think it’s time to dial it back a bit. And think about how to help our BFSI clients change – incrementally – so that it’s not such a painful exercise. I’ve seen many transformation projects fail and even a few executives get the axe as a result. Help from the outside can be good for a lot of reasons. For one, you get an unbiased (presumably) view of what’s possible – and what is feasible. And you get the “outsider” perspective of how to get things done when not encumbered by internal constraints.

I’m a big believer in pursuing the “low hanging fruit” opportunities. Whether they be in digital, cloud, analytics or otherwise. But these changes don’t have to be earth shattering transformational to be beneficial or create/add value. No. Financial Services organizations need to think about change in smaller bite sized chunks that quickly achieve value and business benefit. How you ask? Technology is an enabler to some greater good – as I used to think in terms of transformation. But it need not completely change the business. No. Rather, think change & modernize. Move the needle a little here and a little there. Perhaps when you’re done you will have done great things worthy of being transformational. Ooops. Sorry. I promise not to say it again.