Achieving a Homegrown Approach to IT Transformation

Sometimes the insights you are looking for to resolve a problem turn out to be right in your own backyard.  When EMC IT embarked on a bold mission to transform its IT operating model almost two years ago, it made perfect sense for EMC IT to turn to an inside resource—our top EMC consultants in the IT Transformation Work Group within EMC Global Services—for help.

After all, the Global Services IT Transformation Practice had years of experience helping clients transform their IT operations to better serve their business clients. Global Services could apply what we knew to move the EMC IT effort forward In turn, our IT Transformation service leaders could benefit from being involved in one of the industry’s largest IT transformations, through which we could hone and refine our consulting approach and practices on a scale we have never done before.

Nineteen months later, EMC’s IT transformation is on track, and our group has gained a long list of new best practices and insights to leverage with other clients going forward.

Breaking new ground

There were several features of EMC IT’s transformation that were unique from transformation efforts our group had worked on in the past. While most organizations tackle changes in their operations by building out one service center or demand area at a time, EMC IT decided to transform its entire operation in unison. It was a very bold move on the part of IT leadership, and meant focusing more on a holistic demand management and service center structure. Instead of implementing one new service center, we created seven. We learned a great deal about scaling transformation efforts, how to push the envelope on implementation and enhancing our approach to business relations.


One genius move made in this process was assigning an IT leader who runs a service center to also take on a dual demand center responsibility for a given business unit. This enabled EMC IT to run their IT operations while clearly having the business perspective in sight. Having an IT leader (and his/her demand center team) become strategically embedded in each business unit did more to improve the relationship between IT and the business than anything else.

We also spent more time on the people aspect of the changes, working with HR to redefine job families and focusing on human change management—creating a process to help IT employees and leaders cope with and embrace change. This was made more challenging by the fact that EMC IT spans the globe and also includes several corporate Centers of Excellence.

Starting with values

The most unique aspect of the transformation was EMC IT’s focus on defining its organization’s values at the outset of the process and using those values to drive the transformation. Typically, our consultants are much more process-oriented. In this case, we took a step back and used a values-based platform from which to move forward.

IT turned to employees to explore and create its values and then devised a process to measure its progress in realizing those values. This unique approach enhanced our change management process and made the transformation more palatable to employees. In fact, IT’s Great Places to Work score actually went up in the middle of this major transformation, which is very unusual. We were also able to use the values assessment that EMC IT set up to measure ourselves going forward.

Our consultants have been able to develop and perfect this values approach, and we now leverage this approach with clients as a best-in-class best practice.

More lessons learned

Other lessons EMC Global Services consultants have learned in this collaboration that you many find helpful in your organization’s transformation efforts include:

  1. You can be on a multi-year transformation journey and make progress but you can’t stop and start. It is an iterative process, and you always need to redefine where you are at and look for the next iteration. To that end, a multi-year roadmap is very helpful.
  2. This is a process and not a program. We viewed transformation in the past as a program. Based on our experience, we realized that transformation is a process. We developed a longer term roadmap which was broken down by the various service centers to allow EMC IT to chart their course going forward.
  3. Education and communication about how the new IT operating model works are crucial. You cannot over-communicate with your organization on this subject no matter how hard you try. EMC IT communicated and continues to communicate extensively with employees, but we still have people struggling to understand pieces of the operating model or how they do their jobs. We’ve learned that communication is an ongoing process.
  4. Good leadership is essential to moving the process along. EMC IT’s CIO, Vic Bhagat, and his direct reports provided and continue to provide the top-down leadership and support so vital to a successful transformation.

Where we are

Though the transformation is ongoing, EMC IT has made great strides in becoming the customer-focused, service provider that it is striving to be. In fact, we are in the process of assessing EMC IT’s maturity level to determine how it has progressed from our initial maturity assessment completed in January 2014 when our consulting involvement began.

Moving forward, EMC IT will be less focused on transformation and more driven by the fact that continuous learning and improvement are part of our work in meeting the changing demands of the business users we serve.

Meanwhile, our IT Transformation consultants have been able to test and refine enhanced transformation approaches around people and values and have gained experience in scaling a massive, organizational-wide transformation. We’ve tested things; we’ve proven them; we’ve made mistakes and learned from them. As a result, our team is now more ready than ever to leverage what we learned with EMC IT to better help mid-tier and enterprise-level companies with their IT transformations.

For more information on EMC IT’s transformation, please visit

About the Author: Mark Smith