Part of the “Digital CIO” series
Professional services organizations walk a fine line when it comes to leveraging their expertise. On one side, there’s a passion for building things that help customers operate with higher efficiency and greater profitability. But on the other, these firms need to apply the same methodologies, technology, and tools within their own environment as well. That’s the only way to acquire the insights into what’s involved in making these improvements to help their customers do the same.
Our organization is indeed no exception to this reality. As a fast-growing global company headquartered in Belgium, with 24 offices in 13 countries, and 1,750 professionals representing 32 nationalities, we depend on our team to deliver advanced solutions and services that empower our customers to achieve a sustainable competitive advantage. The more we help our technology and business experts work efficiently with improved visibility and the latest tools, the better we can help our customers navigate their business transformation.
So when our customers ask why we moved everything to the cloud, a simple truth always emerges as the best answer: The cloud is a force multiplier of empowerment, insight, and opportunity for our company and theirs alike.
Preparing for the future means heading to the cloud
Mapping our 2020 strategic plan served as a tremendous wake-up call to the power of the cloud. To achieve our goal of opening new offices in Brazil, Taiwan, and the Asia-Pacific region, we needed to address any risks that could create disparate data silos and reduce transparency into customer projects. The opportunity to expand into these three markets is exciting, but we still needed to maintain operations that run with greater simplicity, productivity, and flexibility – anywhere, anytime.
For us, it was an easy decision to engage in a co-innovation project with SAP. We have trusted its technology for years as we built our reputation with thousands of clients from all over the world. This is the moment when we – an SAP partner – became an SAP customer looking for a competitive advantage through a next-generation ERP platform running 100% in the cloud.
To offer our consultants the best possible support and training, we chose a master platform for employee data and integrating HR processes with our new implementation of the cloud ERP software. This phase of our digital transformation enables us to track every aspect of employee interaction and deliver continuous feedback to help keep staff aligned with company values and goals. Similarly, better insight into training requests enables HR managers to tailor courses to meet demand, engaging and motivating employees to excel and to serve clients even more effectively.
As my colleague, CIO Steven Fleurent, likes to share, Delaware has a valid reason why total cloud adoption makes sense. “Delaware is a rapidly changing company in a rapidly changing world and market. As the IT organization, we must do our bit to support those changes,” he said. At the same time, our IT costs need to be optimized to help ensure that every digital investment provides the value our customers and business need. And finally, cloud solutions allow everyone connected to the business to work with a standardized platform and one source of the truth.
And as for the naysayers who believe that the cloud will put the IT organization out of business, Steven has a more practical view: “By transitioning entirely, we’re aiming to create an even more efficient and effective IT organization that is ready for the future,” he said. “We have a strong IT organization with competent professionals we can be proud of.”
Practicing what we preach to give customers what they demand
Like all business transformations, the co-innovation project presented challenges, yet it was certainly an invaluable education. We learned the best way to implement a cloud solution, configure it to meet our specific business requirements, and integrate the technology with an existing landscape.
We discovered that a total cloud deployment complements a variety of custom and third-party cloud solutions to support business processes end to end. Quite clearly, the seamless integration of these solutions is best enabled by a cloud platform, which serves as a central data warehouse, an environment for designing new solutions, and an employee portal for real-time analytics across all internal applications.
This migration approach now enables every employee – no matter where they are in the world – to work more productively and support better customer service. And management gains key benefits across all critical aspects of the business, including real-time insight into project performance and profitability, and automation and scaling of end-to-end processes
While the approach itself is an entirely different experience from the usual, managing technology is more straightforward. For example, new digital capabilities are available and activated when required. Also, since configuration is no longer necessary, we can leverage new capabilities immediately.
All of these first-hand lessons learned about cloud migration are creating the foundation we need for a successful expansion. But more importantly, we are ready to provide optimal support to our customers that want to take advantage of the same digital strategy.