Digital Evolution. Simplified
This month we had the pleasure to speak with Sri Manchala, the Chairman and CEO of Trianz - a global digital transformation consulting and technology services firm.
Founded in 2001, Trianz is a pioneer in using data-driven strategies to develop unique perspectives, techniques, and methods centred around their mantra “Excellence in Execution”. Below we speak with Mr Manchala, who’s also a member of the Forbes Technology Council and the author of Crossing the Digital Faultline: 10 Leadership Rules to Win in the Age of Digitalisation & Uncertainty, about overcoming the challenges the global pandemic has presented the organisation with, as well as why he thinks that digital transformation will be in the centre of the next industrial revolution.
What is Trianz’s ethos?
For nearly two decades and counting, with an ecosystem engineered around a focus on Digital Evolution, Trianz views challenges and opportunities through the eyes of the client and replaces consulting speak and complexity with simplicity and a results-oriented approach. Simplifying the daunting task of digital evolution, serving our clients as a full-time partner in this journey, and delivering impact on time are some of Trianz’s defining trademarks.
Since its beginning, Trianz has been focused on delivering a unique and powerful statement of value to our clients, which can be summed up in three simple phrases: Business Impact Created, Predictability in Execution, and Unique Client Experiences. The entire ecosystem at Trianz has been engineered and crafted to execute these values consistently in every client setting.
Trianz embodies its Digital Evolution. Simplified philosophy by transforming businesses for the digital age by leveraging data, breakthrough strategies, and cutting-edge technologies. Assimilating this philosophy into a practical approach, we first work with clients to understand their objective from a business perspective before delving into the specific technologies that will help them accomplish their determined business goals.
How has the current COVID-19 pandemic affected Trianz’s operations?
2020 has been a defining year for Trianz as our business proves its resiliency amid the continuing COVID crisis. Most of our industry has experienced stalled growth and shrinking demand; however, Trianz leadership’s foresight in operating the majority of our business on the cloud and building a 100% digital workplace infrastructure and knowledge assets have prepared the organisation well for these conditions.
We initiated our Business Continuity Plan three weeks before the shelter-in-place orders kicked in by equipping all the associates with a 100% remote working environment. Our priority was to keep the teams healthy and safe. We also started a series of initiatives, including enlisted healthcare practitioners and virtual leadership connects to help them provide uninterrupted service. The result: not a single drop in SLAs to date, full support for all client engagements, zero escalations, and 100% healthy employees.
In essence, Trianz leveraged most of our digital solutions to enable the business to move forward quickly.
How are you working to overcome the challenges the pandemic has presented Trianz with?
There’s no “playbook” for organisations attempting to manoeuvre a crisis on the scale of a global pandemic. Trianz has grown every single year over the past five years and, to date, the firm’s business model and strategy have proved resilient. The firm’s proactive response to COVID through leading-edge business continuity and “work-from-home” policies in addition to caring for our associates while ensuring uninterrupted client services have earned a new level of client admiration.
In the wake of COVID-19, we quickly anticipated the need for remote working for all associates three weeks in advance of the lockdown by strategically investing in IT and cybersecurity capacities. Trianz’s digital workplace model powered by robust digital infrastructure and mobile-enabled business apps, as well as an agile and collaborative workforce, put the firm in good shape to transition securely to a 100% work-from-home model.
The firm had a comprehensive digital workplace readiness plan and robust BCP and security policies in place from the start. As the crisis unfolded, Trianz invoked the simulation of BCP covering all aspects for 72 hours, in addition to the quarterly simulations. Simultaneously, the virtual townhalls by leadership prepared the organisation for the impending transition, followed by the release of the guidelines to combat the pandemic effectively.
By the end of March 2020, the transition to a 100% work-from-home model was executed seamlessly, resulting in 100% healthy associates, 100% delivery on client engagements through remote services, and smart hands (where experts advise local staff how to troubleshoot) wherever possible. Through weekly communications, we kept our clients updated on the status of the engagements. Also, various measures like weekly health surveys, video and phone wellness consultations with doctors, and Learning & Development initiatives boosted team morale while keeping them safe. We’ve also extended support to the most affected and vulnerable communities through the ‘Trianz Cares’ fund.
I realised that, though the COVID effect varies by industry, the pandemic will have a devastating impact on traditional and generally unprepared companies.
Trianz has been on the frontlines managing all the challenges posed by the pandemic multi-dimensionally: bringing the team together to assess the impact; ensuring alignment on plans, priorities, and contingencies; keeping track of the health of our associates and their families; ensuring everyone is tapping into their emotional quotient to lead and manage in the best ways possible—this has been seen through in every town hall session and virtual connect.
We intend to continue investing in making our digital infrastructure more robust and mobile, as well as our operations pandemic-resilient with a secure digital work environment backed by cloud and data-driven outcomes to enable uninterrupted services.
What will be the long-term impact of the pandemic on digital transformation?
As the pandemic unfolded, we re-evaluated the impact of COVID on the direction, scope, and pace of transformation. I realised that, though the COVID effect varies by industry, the pandemic will have a devastating impact on traditional and generally unprepared companies. I’ve covered this in detail in my book Crossing the Digital Faultline (www.digitalfaultline.com).
COVID-19 is creating a discontinuous shift inside of a discontinuous shift, which manifests as an acceleration in non-linear changes in business models, products, and services due to changing customer behaviours and enabling technologies. One more effect of COVID on organisations comes in the form of major operational risks that can only be mitigated by maintaining safe and secure business continuity and remote working environments for a sustained period.
In our report titled ‘The COVID Proof IT Organisation’ (which can be accessed here: https://www.trianz.com/covid19-report) based on data collected from over 300 IT leaders worldwide over the last two months, we saw that only 9% of companies are fully prepared for a pandemic. The common point shared between these pandemic-proof IT companies included substantial investment in the cloud, enterprise analytics, and other strategic areas. The report provides an overview of COVID-19 projections and workplace implication, and shares data-driven perspectives on enabling an elastic, resilient, and secure digital work environment.
You have predicted that digital transformation will be in the centre of the next industrial revolution. Please elaborate on this.
At the beginning of 2013, I initiated a dialogue with Trianz clients concerning the changes they were experiencing and their needs as a result of the emerging digital disruption. These conversations signalled that a significant evolution was, and still is, taking place, and a new paradigm shift is in full swing. From 2015 onwards, Trianz re-engineered the organisation’s areas of specialisation and shifted focus towards digital transformation, kicking off multiple initiatives, both externally and internally, long before the rest of the industry.
Trianz also conducted a global ‘digital transformations’ study between 2017-2019 to learn what it means to leaders who undertake them, what their status was, how they were prioritising across their organisations, what the transformation cycles looked like, what technologies they were investing in, and how prepared they were as far as the human dimension was concerned. This study grew organically, spanning 18 industries and 16 business and IT roles across the enterprise. In the process, Trianz received responses from 9,000+ executives representing 5,000+ companies, collecting over 1.5 million data points. So, the first element of our capabilities was a data-driven understanding of digital transformations worldwide. I define digital transformation in one sentence:
“Digital transformation is the reimagination of products and services from a customer point of view and the reinvention of the company’s value chain to deliver consistent and connected experiences to all stakeholders involved in a process.”
Connecting the dots from the survey results, the study clearly depicts that digital transformation is at the core of business transformation. Businesses who understand the digital shift rightly and have joined the bandwagon of those who foster customer intimacy, driving business agility, and accelerating time-to-market with future-proof infrastructure by investing in data-driven and cloud-powered operational changes, will stay ahead.
Armed with these insights, we reimagined our service portfolios, focusing on cloud, analytics, digitalisation & business apps, infrastructure and security (CADIS), target industries, geographies and the routes to these markets. We re-engineered our operating model by eliminating the traditional, siloed practice model in favour of client-centric practice communities. Trianz also transitioned from the generic consulting and IT services to focus on themes such as digital blueprints and roadmaps, benchmarking, and experience design. In fact, Trianz is one of the first firms to use the term ‘digital transformation’ before it emerged as an industry buzzword. Besides all this, we are also investing in a new culture of learning and digitally driven collaboration.
What trends are shaping the future of digital transformation?
Many trends are shaping digital transformation, but four key trends come to mind:
- Predictive Analytics – Predictive analytics will determine what, when, and to what extent companies will need to transform in the future. Data-driven analytics will be central to the future of digitalisation. The pace and scale of investments in analytics will grow in the areas of data foundations, governance, data lakes, and visualisation. The scope of growth is also expanding—from finance, marketing, and sales to other functions such as R&D and human capital.
- Smarter Experience Management – Better experience management enables businesses to offer a better value proposition to their clients on their transformation journeys. Emerging technologies such as deep learning neural networks, artificial intelligence, and machine learning provide actionable insights on the expectations of various stakeholders so that they can quickly offer personalised experiences.
- Technology – Armed with access to new technologies such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, Internet of Things, and Robotics Process Automation (RPA), traditional firms across industries will fast-track their digital transformation initiatives. These emerging technologies will prove to be game-changers in reimagining solutions to existing business challenges and they will create exponential value for the customers and partners of businesses.
- Platform Economy – Platform economy is increasingly becoming a metaphor for mass value creation where businesses establish a digital ecosystem of customers, vendors, and partners to build connections and exchange value. This shift requires reinventing business using emerging technologies and design thinking for a digital business model and process innovation.
When it comes to digital transformation, what’s a big change for companies to still come on board with?
I believe that there is not just one thing, one service, or one technology that has delivered the outcomes promised by digitalisation. In fact, it is a combination of various elements working together to address a situation—be it an opportunity or a challenge. Every industry has its own set of bottlenecks pertaining to consumer behaviour, market conditions, evolving economy, regulations, competition, and much more. But one major bottleneck is the lack of digital IQ among leadership that slows the pace of innovation. Organisation silos, ignorance towards customer behaviours triggering potential operational changes, risk-aversive culture, and a lack of collaboration-driven talent are other challenges.
And the writing on the wall is quite clear for the businesses who show resistance to change, as they are bound to be replaced by born-digital startups or leaders in the industry. For Trianz, it has been a challenging and multi-year journey beginning with learning what digital transformation truly means, followed by deploying the necessary capabilities and the internal culture. However, I believe that we have successfully validated our point of view.
What are your main goals for the future of Trianz?
Trianz has, so far, succeeded in manifesting its vision. The firm’s operating models are generating satisfactory results and, even during COVID, there has been no visible impact on growth. Trianz is keeping a close watch on how transformations will evolve during and post-COVID, as well as how it can help our clients beyond the services they engage us for. The firm is also taking steps to ensure that our associate teams are on a continuous learning path and will continue to deliver excellent business outcomes to clients.
Over the next few months, we will be launching a digital workplace platform called Pulse that will enhance our associates’ remote working capabilities with access to everything in one place: documents, conversations, meetings, and more. The platform will provide a collaborative environment for associates and clients and will help teams maintain their focus, productivity, and low-stress levels. New learning programs are also in the cards to ensure that the talent is always prepared. And as always, the firm is investing heavily in leadership development capabilities.
The core vision is to emerge as a global end-to-end pureplay Digital Transformation (DT) services provider that delivers data-driven DT strategy, a multi-disciplinary business model, process transformation, and predictive business operations. Over the next five years, I expect Trianz to continue to grow and deliver outstanding results.
What are some of the Trianz’s main achievements?
I categorise Trianz’s achievements into four key areas:
- Focus on Client Success and Execution Excellence: Trianz’s methodology is focused on specific, measurable business impact and returns from technology investments for clients. Trianz’s client partnerships are backed by experience and a record of success:
- Trianz’s first client is still with the firm after 18 years, spanning 100+ engagements.
- A Fortune 100 client has voted Trianz #1 out of 13 partners in “business value add” and “predictable delivery”.
- Trianz has demonstrated scale for multiple Fortune 500 clients with their partnerships spanning decades.
- Client Satisfaction: For three years in a row, Trianz has been named #1 by our clients for business impact, predictable delivery in highly dynamic environments, and relationship commitment.
- Research and Innovation-led Service Delivery Model: One of the major endeavours towards embodying innovation in Trianz’s work culture has been through the launch of Trasers: a dedicated strategy and research unit providing actionable research insights and advice on digital transformations to leaders across organisations. Our in-house “Innovation Labs” evaluates and tests new platform features and capabilities for specific use cases, resulting in the creation of multiple award-winning, next-gen products and IPs that are leveraged by clients in multiple projects.
- Industry Recognition: Trianz is growing at an above-average rate in the professional services industry. The firm has received multiple industry accolades for its Digital Evolution focus:
- Forbes recognised Trianz as among “America’s Best Management Consulting Firms” for a third consecutive year in 2020;
- I’ve become a member of the Forbes Technology Council;
- ISG Provider Lens™ recognises Trianz as a ‘leader’ in Digital Transformation Services and a ‘rising star’ in Public Cloud Services US 2020 Reports;
- I’ve won a CEO Today Management Consulting Award in 2020, and was named Eton Business Leader of the Year;
- ALM Intelligence positioned Trianz as a “leader” in 2018, and a “challenger” in 2019, in its Vanguard Report on IT Operations Consulting;
- CEO Today features Trianz for exceptional Cloud and Digital capabilities;
- Trianz earned the “market challenger” distinction in the ISG Digital Business Transformation 2019 Report;
- Trianz features in the 2019 Novarica Market Navigator Report on IT Service Providers for Insurers;
- Trianz receives the “product challenger” spot in the ISG Provider Lens™ Quadrant Report for Cloud;
- Trianz earned a place in Analytics Insight’s “Top 10 Digital Transformation Companies for 2019”;
- Trianz won an ISG Top 25 Digital Case Study Award for 2019.
Under the business theme of ‘Digital Evolution. Simplified’, Trianz delivers end-to-end digital transformation services, from strategy and roadmaps to experience design, technology implementation, and managed services. The organisation brings to the table an experience of over 2,500 successful global client engagements spanning a diverse range of organisations: emerging companies to Fortune 500, each of them powered by innovative, futuristic methodologies.
Over the years, Trianz has forged collaborative partnerships with technology leaders, including Microsoft, AWS, IBM, Looker, ServiceNow, Snowflake and Informatica, among others, to create powerful business outcomes and differentiated relationship experiences. The company has also been the recipient of numerous prestigious national and international awards and recognitions.