About a year ago, I was presented with an irresistible opportunity. Similar to a scene pulled out of an action-packed blockbuster movie (minus the high-speed car and helicopter chases), it went something like this:
Your mission, which we hope you accept, is to transform tech support quickly, improve the customer experience and modernize the agent experience. You have 365 days to digitally transform Dell’s organization focused on IT services called Dell Digital Services – Assisted Support Experience (ASE). When a customer contacts Dell for support with their system, ASE provides end-to-end services to enable a better experience for both the customers and Dell agents. Good luck, Gio.
Fortunately, the message didn’t self-destruct after reading it, so my first move was figuring out how to respond to the challenge. Frankly, it was thrilling, and the stakes were high. Normally, when asked to pick where I best thrive, from either planning or execution, I always pick execution. Yes, we need to know where we are going, the vision needs to be clear, but we must also execute efficiently. So, I accepted the mission and we embarked on a digital transformation journey aimed at making improvements and optimizing opportunities for ASE.
First Things First, Why Transform?
For starters, it’s exciting and incredibly essential. At a young age, I viewed technology as being transformative. I grew up in a small city in South Brazil and saw how technology was already transforming the world and I wanted to play a role in driving digital change. Even now, we are seeing technology transform how education is being provided given the global pandemic. The digital transformation is seen as a critical business driver for recovery. Findings from the recent Dell Technologies’ Digital Transformation Index reported that 80 percent of organizations globally have fast-tracked some digital transformation programs this year.
How to Bring About True Transformation.
Now that I understood the “why” in the mission to modernize and then transform, my next move was to figure out how to carry out this mission. I have always believed in the bigger picture and making sure to step out of the details of a project to track progress towards the overall goal. I could tell this team needed a leader that could paint this picture. However, I knew before I could even sit down at the easel, I needed to listen first. I listened to the facts that were shared by team members and customers, conducted research, and watched. The conclusion became clear – this team needed to transform, and we would do it with a focus on quality, velocity, and stability.
I firmly believe that no change is made without people, our golden assets, so we also established our team member focus: engage, invest, and celebrate. Simply put, a Happy Team = Happy Customer and vice versa. Equally important to an overarching goal that every team member could rally behind and contribute was implementing ways to measure our own progress. These simple structural changes helped shift the overall mindset from “we can’t” to “we can if”. By walking the talk, we began transforming.
So, how did we experience success with transformation? We did it the Dell Digital Way by simplifying our technological approach to quickly introduce new capabilities that provided us a competitive edge. The secret sauce that drove us to innovate includes the following 3 ingredients…I mean core pillars: velocity, quality and stability.
- We increased our velocity. We scrapped our quarterly release schedule and adopted a much quicker weekly release schedule that allowed us to facilitate negotiations and deliver results to the business faster. Initial skeptics of this plan were met with a can-do attitude that trickled from the top-down, until each team member became a supporter and believer.
- Our quality We introduced goals that were used to reduce a large number of defects. We implemented several tactics to improve our quality, including code reviews, peer reviews and paired programming. It came down to a simple solution of modernizing our approach and illustrating the value in doing it right the first time.
- Stability begins when delivery ends. Once we institutionalized goal clarity and became laser-focused on the execution process, making weekly commitments and holding each other accountable to these commitments helped make us more focused on incident management. Delivering with quality meant fewer defects prior to and after releases, which made us more stable and allowed us to decrease incidents by more than 26%. Wow!
The Road Ahead and What to Expect in the Future
So far, these changes have paved the path for us to leap forward on our transformation journey. When I reflect on where we were when I accepted the mission and where we are now it makes my jaw drop. For example, we went from 10 to 38 releases annually, we launched 124% more functionalities to our business than the previous year, we improved the continuous integration and continuous delivery pipeline from 20% to 80% to deliver code changes more frequently, reliably and in an automated way.
We hope to continue achieving our big picture goal of retiring legacy applications. We have 14 applications we are looking to retire next year – our ‘Let it Go Project,’ which will be a huge undertaking, but I have total confidence our new “can-do” attitude will carry us through the next phase of this transformation.
Look, prior to the pandemic, business investments were strongly focused on foundational technologies, rather than emerging technologies. Across the globe, businesses are recognizing the importance of emerging technologies. At Dell Technologies, innovation is at our core and it’s changing the ways we live and work. It’s invigorating and it’s helping us transform at rapid speeds.
It has been a year since I assumed the role of Senior Director of ASE, charged with bringing transformation to the forefront of what we do. I couldn’t be prouder of the way this team has embraced the changes. Luckily, the mission of Dell Technologies, which is focused on developing technologies to transform lives, is a mission I am happy to champion every day. To me, transformation is about how we remain competitive, and simply put, it’s how we win. So, I challenge you to think differently, inspire others and accept missions that bring about change; after all, it’s the way we grow. Should you choose to accept the mission, don’t forget to have fun along the way: “Live the life you love; love the life you live.”
P.S. This message will not self-destruct after reading it.