Solving The 3 Paradoxes Of Enterprise Transformation

Mahmoud ElAssir, VP of Customer Experience at Google Cloud, has a passion for helping large enterprises transform digitally. Here are 3 paradoxes he says organizations must solve in order to reap the benefits of embracing digital technologies.

Many of the world’s biggest businesses are facing this generation’s toughest problem: How can they quickly and confidently embrace digital technologies?

Enterprises of all sizes want the speed, cost control, customer relations, and differentiation that digital technologies offer, but extremely large companies face unique issues. Their size and complexity can lead to difficulty changing—especially in terms of mission, industry leadership, investment, and competition. The bigger the ship, the harder it is to turn.

At Google, we addressed these opportunities by building a team of chief transformation officers (CTOs), who are in effect executive leaders committed to customer success. Our CTOs have years of experience at the top of large organizations, and work with big companies in their fields of expertise. Partnering with customers’ C-level executives, they educate both engineers and change managers about building solutions that reinforce and renew the enterprise. 

Last year, I completed a long career at Verizon as chief technical officer, and came to Google Cloud with a passion for helping large companies make this generational digital transition. I chose Google Cloud because it has the most forward-looking technologies, particularly in key areas such as large-scale data analytics, artificial intelligence, security, and culture of innovation; as well as other assets (Google Health, Verily, Google Travel, Google Automotive Services, etc.) that help our customers transform their businesses and win. These are areas of particular importance to large firms, which typically have outsized amounts of data, and attract a disproportionate number of bad actors.

I am also drawn to something Google Cloud has done distinctively well: solving what I call the “Three Paradoxes of Enterprise Transformation.” It has three parts, but they are all centered around the most vital dimension of success: the human factor.

1. The bigger a company is, the more personalized their technology solution must be

Great companies succeed over the long term with strong values, working cultures, and accountable processes that fuel products, services, and a company brand that inspires customer trust. This is reflected not simply in things like mission statements, but also in day-to-day operations and relations among people and departments. These reflect deep human motivations and values.

Information technology has strong human and cultural dimensions, too, particularly at companies with a strong heritage. Products are designed, campaigns are conducted, and data is gathered in ways that are relevant to the brand and the existing customer relationship. In this year’s big transition to work-from-home policies, we have also seen corporate values reflected in how people at different organizations interact—for example, in how they dress, socialize, and collaborate across corporate silos and hierarchies.

Google’s success owes much to understanding these dimensions of technology excellence, and to the massive investment in our artificial intelligence platform—specifically around speech, computer vision, and privacy-preserving AI. My team uses these capabilities to help our customers transform their customers’ and agents’ experiences with solutions like Contact Center AI, which enables more personalized and intuitive customer care.

Related: Get the free guide, “How conversational AI is changing the game in customer service

2. Digital transformation is fundamentally about people, not technology

Anyone who has been through significant technology change management knows that the hardest part is often organizational. It’s not that people hate change; they fear not fully understanding how they’ll be evaluated, and dislike not being able to deliver for their customers and partners because they don’t understand new systems. 

Addressing both the human and technology sides of this problem is a prerequisite to a successful digital transformation. In addition to Google’s Site Reliability Engineers—who empathetically work side by side with customers and help them scale for their highest volumes—and our CTOs, we have created numerous training and certification programs for both technical and business people. The knowledge and skill badges offered here and elsewhere by Google Cloud are important parts of giving a sense of progress and esteem, as well as showing qualifications to others.

For the overall organization, the collaboration and communication tools in Google Workspace have a proven record of enabling large companies to move faster, innovate, and keep their people connected. With tools used by over 2.6 billion individuals every month, Google Workspace feels familiar, and puts people first. One of our customers, Broadcom, was able to increase productivity to support 1,000% revenue growth. During the early part of the COVID-19 pandemic, use of Google Meet—our video conference tool—increased 30x, ensuring continued operations at many large enterprises. 

Related: Learn more about how organization and culture can help in times of uncertainty.

3. Complexity needs to be managed because it’s too complex to solve

You might not want to “solve” for complexity anyway, since that would mean you’re probably not participating in a fast-changing, multidirectional, compute-intensive world. What you want to do is manage complexity with better measurements, better prediction, and better accountability. In other words, better data management and analytics.

Rich data—which feeds analytics and artificial intelligence—is the source of both understanding and growth.

Moving faster with more productivity, greater collaboration, lower cost, and more accountable IT is great, but the true differentiator, particularly for most large organizations, is data. Rich data—which feeds analytics and artificial intelligence—is the source of both understanding and growth. At a large organization, it’s a rich repository of things like product creation, manufacturing, customer knowledge, logistics, and partnering—in some cases, stretching back decades.

Taking advantage of data can be a digital transformation deal killer, though. In almost every case, data is dispersed across multiple computing sites, including various on-premises computing systems, hosted sites, and other clouds. It’s worse than if the data were simply not there; you know it’s there, but it can’t be accessed.

This is why Google Cloud has extended our hybrid cloud/multi-cloud approach from applications like Anthos to data analytics as well. We believe it is your data, wherever it resides, and you should have access to it without a lot of hassle, so you can solve tough problems, innovate, and grow. Our recently announced BigQuery Omni, a flexible and fully managed multi-cloud analytics solution, is just one way we are delivering on this approach. Stay tuned.

The “Three Paradoxes of Enterprise Transformation” are solvable, but they require commitment, industry understanding, technical knowledge, and strong emotional intelligence from business leaders. For those willing to give it a shot, however, there is much to be gained. Given the current environment, now is not the time to do business as usual. And once the paradoxes are solved, I am confident that we will be in one of the most exciting periods in the rich history of large enterprises. 

Keep learning: Get Google’s guide to building a data-driven culture