We’ll be your glue: how we enable true digital transformation

Jorrit Molkenboer 2984
Jorrit Molkenboer
Nov 10, 2022 · 9 min read
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Managers often conclude that their company leaders must make either-or decisions. These decisions lead to painfully considered tradeoffs, such as we can have either security or no-holds-barred flexibility. We must maintain control either through central IT or decentralized autonomy via DevOps teams. We should operate with either agility or structure. We can maintain either high quality or efficiency. We must either invert the business or rejuvenate the core. The list goes on. Symptomatic of siloed thinking, these tradeoffs are the result of what author Jim Collins calls “the tyranny of the OR.” And rarely do such binary choices lead to sustainable progress.

Schuberg Philis takes an alternative approach. Rather than force companies to trade one important value for another, why not enable them to get everything they need to support both IT and business at the same time? Why not find solutions that leverage?

Though mission-critical IT has been the heart of our daily work for nearly 20 years, we know that customers’ digital quests are never solely technological. Where IT needs end and business needs begin is no longer clear-cut. That’s why we take a decidedly adhesive approach: our solutions seek ways not to cut back on any valuable feature so we can simply make room to paste in another. Instead, we find all the opportunities where our mission-critical IT can serve as the glue that unites the customer ecosystem. This gluing function means we avoid the tradeoffs that come with either-or decision-making and instead seamlessly fuse business strategy and digital technology. The result is a securely integrated ecosystem that enables companies to experience true digital transformation.

“Do we prioritize change over OPS OR OPS over change? That’s a common tradeoff met at the intersection of business and IT. We enabled a financial company to both eliminate outages on its global platforms (OPS) AND build new products (change). Our solution began with restoring the sense of ownership over the business and gaining insights into end-to-end operations to balance decision-making between OPS and change.”

Diving into the quest

To fully grasp a company’s digital quest, we must first embrace complexity. We dive into all subject matters relevant to the customer and business context: their market/s, strategy, current and aspired-to IT landscapes, security needs, organizational structure, and stakeholders. From there we get a better understanding of the best technology and digital strategy to beat the business challenge.

Next, we put into place technical, architectural, DevOps, reliability & security frameworks. Derived from our best practices and continuously improved by our experts, these frameworks let us thoroughly scan and assess the system while ensuring that the ultimate solution meets our single KPI: 100% customer satisfaction.

“How should our future enterprise architecture look like? That’s a natural question for the C-suite, responsible for a company’s digital transformation, but it triggers many either-or discussions. These debates then splinter along various lines, depending on whether you ask the CIO, CCO, or COO. Although it may not be typical to pose to an IT outsourcing partner, we encouraged this question from our customer, a large port. We then helped answer it by refining their technology portfolio, sharpening their strategic goals, AND assisting their in-house team of architects improve the enterprise architecture blueprint.”

An engineering-heavy blueprint

To really catalyze success, we know our solution must be tailormade. Our next major step is to begin drawing a blueprint of the digital challenge. We don’t believe in a one-size-fits-all methodology, so we choose the right capabilities, tooling, and methods for the case. Examples include LeanIX, BMI, process blueprinting, OSI layer 7, and sometimes a combination thereof.

“One of our banking customers wanted to pivot from transaction-driven exchanges to customer-centric relationships. Data is important for improving OPS, including financial reporting, but we also know that data is crucial for strengthening the customer relationship – and we know that companies don’t have to choose between having a data-driven solution OR a customer-centric solution. Understanding this bank’s business and the regulated context in which data is exchanged, Schuberg Philis began building a self-service data platform and dismantling the legacy data environment. We’re working closely with their business department, both maintaining a steady rhythm to identify their needs AND jointly keeping our eye on always generating value.”

Setting us apart from other consultancy offerings, our blueprints and workshops are heavily imprinted with engineering. That’s because it is the engineers who do the sketching, and they, in turn, get support from industry and business experts. Engineers immediately start diagramming a solution as they know it should be and ensuring any proposal is executable and accelerable. Schuberg Philis Blueprinting has become part of our footprint in mission-critical engineering.

Collaborating across departments

To create a blueprint, we typically invite customers – including their own engineers and businesspeople – to meet at Lab271. This innovation and workshop hub, located at our Schiphol-Rijk office, provides a physical and digital workspace that is ideal for understanding the blueprint.

“A cash logistics manager believed it had to either lower the company’s ATM density to minimize OPS costs OR continue serving its community function without being profitable. Although the world is transitioning from cash infrastructure toward digital money, we were able to actually ramp up new value propositions for the customer. Our solution (including high fidelity prototype) centered on a single new landscape that increased availability, automation, and data-driven reporting AND simultaneously decreased business process incidents, human error, and thus overall costs.”

Our 3x10-meter screen at Lab271 lets us clearly visualize the relationships between components and engineers in frontstage and backstage areas as they affect customer experience. This enables us to take a virtual tour through the process. Walking the lines via blueprints is powerful, because we see the red flags and the red tape. Since all relevant departments are present, there is no need to have separate silo-conducive sessions or waste time repeating meetings. Together we identify polarities and plot on the roadmap how we will replace a binary view with one that can embrace duality. But more important is the immediate outcome. By collaborating across departments, we nurture a sense of collective ownership.

Craftmanship and catalyzing execution

With engineers intimately involved since day 1, projects get off the ground quickly. As they do, they embody a true engineering culture. We liken it to old-fashioned craftmanship. Whether focused on customer touchpoints, applications, security, infrastructure, and/or data, we work as one team in open communication and with elbow-to-elbow cooperation. That means we execute our craftsmanship as one team, seizing opportunities for gluing together business and IT in a digitally transformed ecosystem.

Jorrit Molkenboer 2984

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