Digital Transformation During Mass Integration
Three Guiding Principles That Make It Work
CIO & VP, Digital Technology
[Originally published September 4, 2019 on CIO Applications website]
Imagine you’re in the midst of a massive overhaul of your company’s digital ecosystem—working furiously with your organization to modernize, rationalize, digitize and integrate networks, systems, applications and platforms—when you walk into the office one day and … wait for it … your parent company announces plans for one of the biggest acquisitions in the history of aerospace. And they are merging that company with your organization.
This was the situation my colleagues were facing with the September 2017 announcement of the planned merger between UTC Aerospace Systems and Rockwell Collins.
While the news was exciting and would position the new Collins Aerospace among the top players in the aerospace and defense industry, the Digital Technology team couldn’t help but think about the huge implications. What was already a daunting challenge was now a daunting challenge X 2.
When I was named to lead the Digital Technology organization at the new company, I’ll admit I was awed by the scope of the initiative and what was to come. I reminded myself of that old adage about how to eat an elephant: one bite at a time.
Having previous experience with corporate mergers, acquisitions, reorganizations and restructurings, I know how potentially disruptive these kinds of events can be. But I have also come to appreciate what it takes to help lead through a major digital transformation and achieve successful outcomes.
Here are three key guiding principles I always try to follow:
No. 1: Prioritize Teamwork, Collaboration and Communications
Without going into our whole business landscape and family tree, essentially our team is working to bring together four heritage cultures comprised of different systems, processes and strategies. But we’re doing far more than that. As we work toward this large-scale integration, our teams are getting to know each other and learning from one another—both personally and professionally. They’re suggesting ways to modernize, finding efficiencies and developing new and innovative solutions for our customers. We’re seeing benefits far beyond just getting everyone on the same network. The collaboration itself is driving digital innovation.
Our digital strategy consists of a simple “70-20-10” concept. The numbers are indicative of the amount of focus we aspire to achieve in three focus areas:
- 70 percent of what we do needs to be focused on digital as a function, and how we best leverage all of our digital assets to optimize for Collins Aerospace. We’re essentially focused on optimizing products for our customers.
- 20 percent of what we do needs to be focused on improving the customer experience, taking friction out of the customer interaction and leveraging digital to enable better services for our customers.
- 10 percent of what we do is focused on leveraging digital for new, revenue-generating ideas and better competitive positioning.
And like that old adage about how to eat an elephant, we’re taking it byte by bite. And looking forward to the meal.