“Digital Transformation do not only focus on technology but also on organizational and cultural changes”
DAVID McCOURT - VP Strategy & AlliancesDavid McCourt joined SilverStorm in 2007 and currently holds the position of VP Strategy & Alliances. David graduated in Mathematics in 1997 and prior to joining SilverStorm he worked as a Principal Consultant in Detica, a London based consultancy firm.
With over 19 years IT consulting experience in more than 20 countries, his primary focus now is on developing and supporting the delivery of the SilverStorm business strategy through the creation of the core components of SilverStorm Digital Transformation StrategyTM. To this end, he heads up 4 different business areas within SilverStorm: Alliances, Products, SilverLabs and Organizational Change. All provides a key part in the delivery of the SilverStorm strategy.
We have all heard a lot about Digital Transformation. Can you give me a brief summary of what it means?
In today’s world, it is essential for organizations to adapt quickly to the constant changes and evolutions in the technology landscape. Those that are unable to leverage the power and efficiencies offered by new digital technologies, more often than not, will be placed at a huge disadvantage over their competitors.
Digital Transformation can basically be described as the integration of digital technology into all areas of a business resulting in fundamental changes to how they operate and deliver value to customers. Digital Transformation not only focused on technology but also on organizational and cultural changes.
That seems like a complex process. Roughly how much investment is going on in Digital Transformation?
Digital Transformation is a huge undertaking. According to Forbes, this year enterprises are expected to invest $1.3 trillion dollars in Digital Transformation initiatives. They also say that approximately 70% of these initiatives will end in failure...
Wow, 70%! That seems like huge waste of time, effort and money. How can we measure Digital Transformation initiatives in order to make timely course corrections and improve its success rate?
It certainly is a waste. Firstly, it is important to understand that Digital Transformation is not a one-off process, it is a journey during which Digital Transformation strategies must evolve and be refined. It is virtually impossible to plan to far in the future, technology is evolving so quickly that plans will more than likely have to change.
One of the ways to ensure that we can efficiently measure the effectiveness is by breaking up the long-term plans into small focused projects with a specific set of measurable objectives and KPIs.
But why are more organizations not doing this? What are the challenges that they are facing?
In many cases the information we need is fragmented across a number of different sources. The problems with this approach are numerous, chief among them that centralized reporting on critical initiatives is impossible. This means course corrections cannot be applied to in-flight work in real time because there is no visibility. The result? The organization’s performance is a lagging indicator instead of an actively managed outcome. The workaround involves a slow and complex process often requiring manual effort leading to a lack of confidence in the information provided.
In addition to that poor definition upfront means that we rarely benchmark our KPIs against desired outcomes making it impossible to determine if they are acceptable or not.
Finally, more often than not, we don’t have a clear distribution strategy (or vehicle for report distribution) which means that we opt to send reports to mass distribution lists. Leading to information overload where important information is lost in the avalanche of other data.
What can be done to overcome these challenges?
Let’s look at each of the challenges in turn. Challenge number one: fragmented data silos, lack of confidence in available information. The obvious solution to this is to have single system of record that acts as an authoritative source of truth for an organization’s work investments, progress and results. Unfortunately, it is not common for organizations to have this type of system, but it is essential to be able to provide a source of timely, accurate and actionable information.
Challenge number two: manual assembly or reliance on IT for creation of reports. This is resolved by using a powerful reporting tool on top of the single system of record. Where users are empowered to create their own reports and dashboards.
Challenge number three: no benchmarking or performance measuring. It is all in the planning. As I mentioned previously Digital Transformation should be broken down into smaller, more achievable initiatives forming a Digital Transformation Roadmap. Each initiative must be defined with clear objectives as well as expected results.
Challenge number four: information overload, late delivery of information to the wrong audience. Information must be delivered to the correct people in real time to the correct. Organizations must invest in technology to allow the creation of real-time role specific dashboards.
But what can SilverStorm offer to help organizations measure the effectiveness of their Digital Transformation?
Here at SilverStorm we have developed a product called ServiceVision™to provide organizations with the visibility they need to measure their journey towards Digital Transformation and more importantly facilitate course corrections in their roadmap.
Can you provide me with a bit more detail regarding this product?
Sure. Our ServiceVision™product has been developed based upon our experience in successful transformation projects over the years and is made up of a combination of consulting services and technology that attempts to address the key challenges faced today.
At a high level, ServiceVision™ includes 3 key parts. First one, a single system of record for work, where Digital Transformation initiatives are defined, controlled and measures. Second, powerful reporting functionality providing focused real-time dashboards. And finally, consulting Services to help define KPIs, Dashboards and Reports.
ServiceVision™ product forms part of SilverStormDigital Service Portfolio™ contained within SilverStorm Digital Transformation Strategy™.
Tell us some more about SilverStorm Digital Transformation Strategy™?
That is probably worthy of an entire interview in itself, but I will try to give you a short overview. Here atSilverStormwe deliver a unique end to end solution allowing the customer to engage with one single point of contact for its entire Digital Transformation program. This solution has been developed to address the same three things that our customers have been asking us to do over and over again: provide us with your Vision, help us with Direction and lend us your Experience
SilverStorm Digital Transformation Strategy™aligns technology with the business through service orientation and manages the key elements of any transformation program: People, Process, Technology and Standards. Our Digital Transformation Strategy leverages best practices, world leading service management technology and many years of experience in successful transformation projects. Organizations that have implemented SilverStorm Digital Transformation Strategy™have experienced increased productivity, reduced costs and increased profit.
SilverStorm Digital Transformation Strategy™ consists of three core components. Firstly, SilverStorm Digital Value Chain™- provides the Vision. Based on the Porters Value Chain model, SilverStorm Digital Value Chain™gives our customers a template for transformation that can be readily adapted to fit their chosen framework. It allows them to align their business strategy with technology which in turn is developed into a series of primary activities known as services, that support the business objectives. As you would expect with any type of value chain, SilverStorm Digital Value Chain™, includes essential support activities such as organizational change management, and continual improvement. Included within SilverStorm Digital Value Chain™is a layer of management information and key performance indicators, available in real-time, that demonstrate where an organization is at any particular stage or time of its transformation journey. Secondly, SilverStorm Bridge Adoption Model™ - provides the Direction. Through a combination of the SilverStorm Digital Value Chain™ and the accelerators developed within SilverStorm Product Portfolio™, SilverStorm Bridge Adoption Model™ details the roadmap for Digital Transformation and permits our customers to transition from an ‘as-is’ state to a ‘to-be’ state, in a controlled and aligned process of adoption. We align the process adoption with the tangible benefits that a customer wishes to obtain, allowing for a constant focus on effort versus benefit.
Finally,SilverStorm Digital Service Portfolio™ - provides the benefit of our Experience. Mapping seamlessly onto SilverStorm Digital Value Chain™,SilverStorm Digital Service Portfolio™ provides a set of accelerator products to cover the entire value chain. Deploying prepackaged solutions at lightspeed provides organizations with a huge competitive advantage.
“If a certain company is willing to implement this Customer Service Management process, is because the benefits it can provide are significantly much greater”
RAÚL ESPINOSA - Chief Technology Innovation Officer in SilverStorm
Head of the technology and Innovation Department giving support to the digital strategy proposed by SilverStorm (SSDX). As a technical consultant, he maintains daily contact with our clients in order to guide them in their process of digital transformation through innovation, both in the development of new technologies and in the combination of existing technologies.
Raúl has an extensive experience leading teams in projects and he is currently responsible for ensuring that the technology is used efficiently and safely, as well as evaluating and controlling the implementation of new systems and infrastructure both internally with our employees, and externally with our customers.
What is Customer Service Management (CSM)?
CSM is a process in charge of managing the service provided to the clients through a series established procedures with the objective of improving that service and, therefore, improving the experience and satisfaction of the client.
Why should a company invest in CSM?
Basically, because it allows to improve the service that is given to the clients, increasing therefore, their level of satisfaction. As simple and as complex as that. The client is happier because his service is better.
How does the CSM solution that ServiceNow offers try to improve this service?
Establishing a process focused not only on solving the issues raised by the client but also focused on finding the root cause that has led the client to raise that issue or problema. Like this not only the individual problema is solved, the root cause is searched and resolved, high probably causing that it will not happen again.
How does the solution offered by CSM try to remedy this problema?
The main difference lies in what I commented previously. Traditional CSM tools are focused on managing individual relationships with the client, trying to resolve the individual issues they raise. However, the most modern CSM solutions that we offer go further, going into the causes of why this problem has occurred, involving in this process both the solution and the search of the root cause, implicating all the teams in the service delivery and not only the attention department or client support.
This leads to the implementation of a process of continuos improvement of the service, increasing the quality of this and, therefore, making the client more satisfied with the service it recieves.
That explains why companies are willing to make a significant investment in this solution, isn´t it?
Indeed, If a certain company is willing to invest a significant amount of money by implementing this CSM process, is because the benefits it can provide are significantly much greater, not only in monetary terms, but as I mentioned earlier, at the level of customer satisfaction.
In fact, according to a study, 82% of clients claim to stop their activity with companies because they feel they have recieved a bad service. On the other hand, 80% of companies say they provide an acceptable service, but according to studies conducted by Forrester only 8% gives a really good service.
Other research affirms that, increasing the 5% of the clients that you retain, increases the benefits by 95%. In the end, the customer is the biggest asset of a company.
Besides improving customer service, does it also imply some kind of improvement in the internal functioning of the company?
Absolutely yes. Not only is customer service improved, but a more efficient methology is implemented, distributing the workload among employees in a more appropriate way through an interactive collaboration in real time. In addition, is establishes mechanisms for the automatic task assigment to the person who can perfrom it better.
All this, by the way, and coming back to the client because it is the main focus of CSM, causes that the client obtain a more adequate response to his problem and in a faster way, thus increasing his level of satisfaction and, to understand us, if the client is happy we are all happy.
Is any company, althought it is small, capable of implementing this process?
I would say no. It´s true that the CSM principles can be applied to any type of company, for example, in everything related to the most efficient distribution of work and optimization of the task assignment. But, regarding the CSM solution provided by the market, it is aimed at medium-high size corporations, that is, corporations that provide daily service to a large number of clients.
To finish, we understand that many of these CSM solutions that new technologies are implementing are in the cloud. Does not this cause certain feeling of rejection in the companies when they are hiring it?
Rather all the opposite. It is true that a few years ago companies didn’t like things related to the cloud, specially big corporations. The fact that their data wasn´t stored inside the company´s facilities caused distrust. But today, that sentiment has changed, companies have seen the benefits of not having to worry about the support or maintenance of platforms such as ServiceNow, where processes like this CSM are hosted. So. they can focus only on delivering efficiently to customers those services that offer them.
“It is important that each organization adapts its function to the changes in order to compete”
REBECA SÁNCHEZ - Head of Organizational Change en SilverStorm
Head of Organizational Change, Rebeca facilitates a sustainable change process, aligning it with our business strategy, always seeking the maximum support from people. Her main goal is to achieve the successful transformation for the organization.
She is also responsible for promoting and maintaining employee´s motivation using development plans, mentoring programs, emotional intelligence and with daily work recognition.
What do we mean by organizational change?
An organizational change is any transformation in the function of an organization. It emerges from the need to transform the working environment into a more productive one. When the organization proposes a change, it must have the ability to be adapted to the changes that can be made by the dynamic environment that surrounds it. The company will get this ability through collective learning and, for that, it is needed to involve itself in a set of tasks that encompass technical aspects and human beings. Without including the human aspects, the process of acceptance and adoption of change is much more difficult.
How important is the Organisational Change Management?
I believe that managing the organisational change in an efficient way is important because the transformation is composed, among other things, by the human element. This element changes people´s behaviour, which is resulted into an aggregation of value for the company. It is important that each organization adapts its function to the changes in order to compete.
What problems do big organization deal when they face a change?
Obviously, the problems related to the technological transformation are the most worrying ones when an organization faces a change, but, once this has been evaluated, organizations deal with problems oriented to the people/departments that will also be affected. Evaluating how a change affects the employees is a challenge for companies.
How do clients face this change?
Companies can take different paths, but as a general rule they follow two: Those companies that use authoritarian change policies, in which employees have to adapt to changes by the decision of the companies’ committee and those other companies that prefer organized changes, where the motivation, communication and employee training are the bases for a successful change.
How do you approach the organizational change in SilverStorm?
Based on our more than 15 years of consulting experience and on our own internal processes that we have implemented inside our company, we have created ServiceInspirationTM, a product where its goal is to define a project that can help organizations to complete successful transformations.
So, is this product born as a part of your internal processes?
Yes, this product is a part of our culture as a company. Is there a better way to evaluate the success of a product than validating it internally?
How does ServiceInspirationTM fit in the concept of Digital Transformation?
This product is part of our digital transformation strategy and it is based on our four fundamental pillars such as standards, technology, processes and of course, people.
Do you think that the future of successful changes is based on good change management?
We must take into account that there are several factors that will intervene in the success of change inside an organization. One of them is to define a digital strategy according to the business strategy of the company. Based on this, the definition of a change management project guarantees the success of our changes minimizing the negative impact for the employees.
“SilverStorm offers a different point of view, extending the concept of maintenance to continuous improvement”
CARLOS TRAVIESO- Chief Product Officer in SilverStorm
Carlos is responsible for the classification and execution of SilverStorm products, an invaluable part of the digital strategy implemented by SilverStorm (SSDX). As a technical consultant, he maintains daily contact with our clients guiding them in their transformation and following the steps defined in the roadmap using SilverStorm Bridge Adoption Model™.
He has experience leading projects and support teams in ServiceNow and right now he oversees the consolidation of the many years of experience SilverStorm has in a new product called ServiceImprovement™.
In today’s world, there is fierce competition between digital transformation companies in order to get the maintenance contracts of small, medium and large companies. However, SilverStormoffers a different point of view, extending the concept of maintenance to continuous improvement.
To analyze this new concept, Carlos Travieso, who is in charge of the ServiceImprovement™ product, uses this as it allows companies to get the most from the platform and to secure the continuous improvements aligned with business strategies.
What problems do customers face when they start using ServiceNow?
Customers face a series of challenges when they start to experience the power of the platform, they realize the possibilities that they have and quickly they define a list of points to improve. It is something logical and normal when we use a platform with all the possibilities that ServiceNow offers.
How do Clients face these challenges?
I think that the main thing is that clients should not feel alone. I consider it very important that they receive the accompaniment of a partner when they start using ServiceNow. I always observe two types of responses when clients hire a support service. Although more than support, I like to call it continuous improvement, which is essential in the digital world in which we live.
‘I can do it’: It is true that ServiceNow is a very intuitive platform, easy to administer. In addition, it allows many configurations in a low/no code mode, but it is also true that without proper experience you can create a monster very quickly if you don’t respect good practices and more so if you do not have a clear line of work that really adds value to processes and, of course, to the business.
‘I do not have enough budget’: It is said that a support service can be considered as an avoidable expense, but there is nothing further from the truth. For me and for a lot of clients that are using the platform successfully, this service is more like an investment whose return begins to be noticed almost immediately because it goes beyond just the performance of the platform.
Are you saying that having a maintenance service is essential?
Yes, I would like to emphasize that employing a continuous improvement service with the right partner is, in short, something fundamental.
I see that you insist in continuous improvement. What do you offer from SilverStorm to satisfy this requirement of the clients?
At SilverStorm we are very committed in supporting our clients in their digital transformation. For this reason, we have invested a lot of time in training our consultants to offer an excellent service, organizing continuous improvement in four large blocks that cover all the needs of our customers to get the most out of the platform and, on the other hand, to offer a much greater value to the business part of the business.
Can you explain to me in a little more detailed how you organize this service?
Of course! As I have said, we have created four large blocks to cover all the needs of a continuous improvement service.
To cover all those small details detected in the implemented processes that appear over time, whether they are defects of the implementation or from the product, we have a block called ‘Advanced Platform Support’. In addition, it extends the standard technical support of ServiceNow, supporting our clients in the resolution of any question they may have and assisting them in the interactions with the supplier. In other words, it would be the equivalent of the classic, lifelong maintenance service.
I would like to emphasize that companies should not settle down for this, they have to do something else to get the most out of the platform. Therefore, with the of the blocks included in the service, we provide the necessary proactiveness to squeeze all the possibilities offered by the ServiceNow tool.
I see that you give importance to being proactive and not only reactive to defects. How do the other three blocks work?
That´s it. We provide a continuous improvement service, not just maintenance. That is why we also have two very important blocks, one is ‘Architectural Services’, which is oriented to ensuring good practices and defining the strategic roadmap, and the other is ‘Enhancement Services’, focused on the execution of the previously defined plan. Both blocks guarantee the execution of continuous improvement.
How do you carry out the definition of the roadmap that you mentioned previously?
Our architects, in addition to the good practices that are followed in every moment, they offer a service called ‘Bridge Light’, that includes sessions to align the strategic goals of the company and that assesses the current and desired maturity situation and, based on that, the roadmap to be implemented on the platform is defined, maximizing the value provided to the business area.
Tell me, how do you make sure that a client is following the good practices?
Very good question. In SilverStorm, we have a service called Health Check, where the status of the instance is analyzed and a clear and concise report is obtained of any element of the system that may cause immediate conflicts or in future version rises.
You have commented that ‘Enhancement Services’ is responsible for executing the road map. How do you do this?
Exactly. In this block those previously planned projects are developed, but, in addition, improvements and tasks defined by the client are also implemented which provide an immediate response to the day-to-day needs.
This block is very dynamic because it is based on three-week sprints, where you define which of the stories of the built backlog will be implemented. In this way, the response time to business needs is practically immediate, just what is needed today.
Carlos, you have spoken before of the version rises or upgrades, as is commonly known in slang. How does SilverStorm manage this type of small projects?
From ServiceImprovementTMwe respond to this real need of our clients who want to have the most current functionalities. Therefore, upgrades are also included through ‘Enhancement Services’. In other words, they become part of the work backlog of the team. It requires a good planification and estimation on the number of processes implemented by our client. Then, we upload the version of the underproduction instances and intensive testing is done to the client. Any problem that may arise is solved and captured in a way that when the version of the production environment is uploaded later, the corrections packages are applied simultaneously reducing the risk of the service losses. And then, free of charge for the new functionalities that ServiceNow makes available to us every six months.
I understand…And what is the last block that composes the continuous improvement service?
The last block is focused on supporting our clients in the administration of the tool. Its name is ‘Basic Configuration Support’and it responds to the need detected in some of our clients who don´t have a platform administrator with enough experience, or who find it more economical to outsource this service, partially or totally. From SilverStorm we offer a menu of basic configuration actions, ranging from very simple actions like managing users, groups and permissions, to data uploads or support in more advanced administration actions.
The administration of the platform is an essential activity within the world of ServiceNow.
Therefore, we are from the opinion that the client must have an administrator of their own system, who is training with us, which will be achieved by a very close link between our continuous improvement team and this person, strengthen it, with the training services that we offer. I would like to remind you that we are a training certificated partner for ServiceNow too and with this we achieve that little by little the client assumes more responsibilities and is able to adjust and manage the tool autonomously and is always respecting good practices. In addition, there are studies presented by our partner ServiceNow, which shows that if the client has a person doing the administration tasks of ServiceNow and has the knowledge of the platform, the amount of defects generated within the platform during the time are reduced substantially, which will be savings for the company.
To put the icing on the cake to this interview, and going back to the initial topic of the issues and challenges that companies are facing nowadays, how do you think that you are helping your customers to solve it?
At SilverStorm we have many years of experience providing this type of service, during which we have learned a lot and from there is where this new way of structuring the continuous improvement has come. Only comparing the current situation of our clients and how they started the evolution is remarkable. But we do not rely on subjective sensations, we provide periodic reports to all our clients about the work and the progress made and we also measure the level of satisfaction with the platform and with the IT department in general, as well as the efficiency and agility provided by IT.