10 Lessons Learned from the EMC IT Transformation

We have shared many insights on EMC IT’s multi-year journey to transform from a traditional IT operation to an IT-as-a-Service model—from steps which determine a new organization structure to strategies on changing the mindset of employees to focus on serving our clients. With some significant transformation successes under our belt and many more in the works, it seems like an opportune time to look back a bit on how far we’ve come and reflect on what we’ve learned in the process.

What follow are the Top 10 Lessons EMC IT learned in its IT transformation process. Regardless of whether your IT organization is just beginning this crucial transformation or is in the throes of the climb, we hope these lessons will help you move forward.

#1:  IT Transformation is not a project. It’s a journey.
IT transformation is a complex challenge, for which a prescriptive approach to change management is inappropriate.   A more iterative and agile approach is necessary.


#2:  Complexity is the enemy.  Find and follow the “happy path” which represents the simplest “minimally viable” combination of process, technology implementation and organization possible to deliver what’s necessary to address 80 percent of the relevant use cases.


#3:  When crossing the chasm, small steps won’t work. 
You need to make big, bold bets. While we initially shied away from an IT-wide reorganization into a services model to avoid organizational disruption, we found it led to conflict, lack of accountability, and lack of teamwork. Once we implemented the IT-wide services-based organization, everything became easier.  Our experience is that big bets create clarity of purpose and direction.


#4:  Incentives do work. 
Individuals and organizations respond to stimuli.  Some are motivated by opportunity and others by risk avoidance.  Our experience is that incentives are critically important to drive individual and organizational behaviors that are aligned with what’s best for the company.


#5:  If you’re trying to run IT like a business, you need to think like an entrepreneur.
Our job in IT is to create demand by having superior value and educating our clients on how they can maximize the value that IT brings to their job or function…and then fulfill that demand and in the process create fanatically loyal clients.


#6: Bring the team with you
. Successful transformation requires leadership that creates safety for employees to take risks, innovate, and learn.  Effective leadership creates powerful employee engagement that provides a rock solid foundation on which to build.  To do this you need to involve as many people as possible in the transformation.


#7:  Agility wins.  
Find a sustainable competitive advantage that provides your clients with the strongest value proposition possible. While cost is always important, we’ve found over and over that agility wins in shaping how the business views IT.


#8:  Pay attention to IT’s brand. Brand is what people are saying about IT behind your back.  The starting point for most traditional IT organizations is that of a brand-deficit from years of constraining supply and discouraging demand. Acknowledge that perception and execute a strategy to build your IT brand.


#9:  Don’t let tradition win.
Changing from the way you’ve always done things isn’t easy.  There’s lots of muscle memory in IT and in how people interact with IT.  Important gains can be quickly lost because changes weren’t reinforced appropriately and the new way was rejected. IT Transformation is a test of endurance.


#10:  Transformation feels like a battle.
IT Transformation may feel like a battle, with resistance on many fronts, but most everything good requires sacrifice, and our experiences validate that it’s worth the sacrifice.


For more information on EMC IT’s Transformation journey, please visit www.emc.com/emcitproven.

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About the Author: Jon Peirce