Digital transformation from the inside out

Where there’s the squeal of rubber hitting the road, there’s transformation

Jun 21, 2018   |  

Growing up in rainy Seattle, my brother and I would pass our days watching wonderful TV shows like “The Dukes of Hazzard,” a colorful show with colorful characters. My favorite part was the beginning, where the bright orange “General Lee” (1969 Dodge Charger) would fly into the air as it crossed a river with no bridge… would they make it to the other side?

Why the reference to a colorful 1970s sitcom? At some point rubber must meet road and the No. 01 car must land on the other side—that’s where we are with our story of the internal digital transformation of Microsoft.

In my previous posts, I talked about how we got started on our journey by digging in to our business functions, creating north stars for each and getting clear on what digital transformation means to us by creating six core priorities for our digital transformation. Getting clarity with respect to our purpose has allowed us to pick a road that we are traveling together as we transform Microsoft. But in a sense, we’re still airborne like the old General Lee—we need to land this thing. How does, as we often hear in business, rubber meet road?

At Microsoft we believe strongly that being vision led is a critical component to our transformation. Agility comes from both from having a great engine of innovation as well as a clear sense of how you’d use that engine to move in a set of specific directions. To be clear, knowing every detail is not the point—but having strong sense of what you’re trying to accomplish before you launch is.

For us, this comes in the form of 11 initiatives that Core Services Engineering and Operations (CSEO, formally Microsoft IT) will work on over the next year. Think of these initiatives as the next click down from our six priorities (which I think of as our more durable, five-year guidebook).

It’s important to know these initiatives come with broad outcomes that we intend to drive: Operational Effectiveness, Improved Customer and Partner satisfaction, and Growth Enablement. We believe that the impact of our transformation needs to be measurable at these macros levels. Further, we have themes that run through all our initiatives around intelligence, seamless experience, innovation and cultural transformation. We’re using these to guide how we shape our vision for the future.

Finally, it’s worth mentioning what these initiatives are not—they’re not everything the organization will accomplish over the next year. CSEO is accountable for supporting the ongoing running of Microsoft business operations, and, while transformation is a cornerstone of what we need to accomplish, we also need to continue to manage our business as ongoing concerns. Transformation isn’t that interesting if you don’t make it to the other side of the bridge.

Now that I’ve given you some context, let’s look at the initiatives we came up with:

  • Customer 360—We are using digitalization across our value chain to create even more opportunity for understanding our customers.
  • Digital Transformation of our Commercial Operations—We’re constantly driving for simpler, more streamlined experiences for our commercial customers.
  • Digital Transformation of our Retail Operations—Transformation is allowing us to create even more intelligent retail experiences both physical and online.
  • Intelligent Customer Engagement—Sellers at Microsoft are having more productive, informed, and collaborative experiences.
  • Modern Engineering System—We are making our engineering systems even more customer obsessed, data driven, speed-oriented, and quality focused.
  • Modern Launch Excellence—Our product launches are becoming more predictable and operationally efficient.
  • Modern Data Assets—Our data is our currency. We are using it to power our intelligent transformation with a connected data platform.
  • Partners as an Extension of Microsoft—Our partners are an extension of Microsoft.
  • Re-Imagined Employee Experience—We are enabling our employees to be the most creative and innovative workforce in the world.
  • Revenue 360—Connected data insights across the customer revenue lifecycle are enabling our commercial transformation.
  • Securing the Enterprise—Trust is everything. We are enabling Microsoft to build the most trusted devices and services.

I’ve only given you a glimpse here of what we’re trying to accomplish here at Microsoft. These initiatives reflect what we want to be as a digitally transformed company. You should see some strong common themes: Data about our vast customer base, focus on employees and partners as key stewards of that data, empowerment of employees through great experiences, and all of this with great data, security, and trust underpinning all we do. These 11 initiatives represent where we are as a company based on the realities of our past and the aspirations of our future.

What do you aspire to be as you transform? What are your “rubber meets road” initiatives?

Return to this space in a few weeks to read my next installment on our digital transformation journey. To read my full series, please go here.