Elevate Digital Transformation track explores how large organizations can become lean and agile

capital one

As technology changes consumer expectations, many large institutions are grappling with staying ahead and adopting these emerging technologies. At Elevate’s Digital Transformation track, most speakers agreed that the trick lies in rethinking the way organizations get things done.

Including the perspective of both startup leaders and the decision-makers driving change within enterprises, the Capital One and Rangle-hosted talks provided insight into how organizations can find gaps within existing processes to avoid disruption and regain a competitive advantage.

“Your beginning point should be your business. What is your business problem that you’re trying to solve?”
– Ozge Yeloglu

On the startup side, Sampler founder and CEO Marie Chevrier said that one of the challenges her company has faced working with large enterprises is a misalignment on expectations. Chevrier argued that startups should be helping these organizations set the right KPIs. “We’ve done the wrong thing, and taken experiments that were supposed to be two-month projects into 18 months, and that kills you,” she said.

From the enterprise perspective, Capital One’s Gill Haus, CIO, retail and direct bank, stressed the importance of DevOps in creating a culture where engineers can move quickly and efficiently. Providing a solid foundation of APIs—and using open-source software responsibly—can reduce the costs associated with building software.

“If you have smaller teams that are operating independently, or they have the ability to do upgrades, to try out new technologies without impacting the rest of the organization, versus these larger mandates that come down, you’re acting more like a technology company,” Haus said. “There will still be systems inside you have to reimagine, but I would argue at that point, you can tell a story and it should be much easier to get talent in the door.”

Ozge Yeloglu, chief data scientist at Microsoft, added that enterprises can sometimes fall into the trap of trying to embrace technology first, rather than finding a problem to solve. When she first started at the company, Yeloglu often had to manage the expectations of teams eager to adopt emerging technologies.

Yeloglu stressed the need to ensure that companies have access to the right data if they’re trying to work with AI—one of the hottest technologies to impact most industries in the last year—and understand how users will actually interact with the product.

“Your beginning point should be your business. What is your business problem that you’re trying to solve?” Yeloglu said. “What are those ten or top five issues your business is challenged with today? Let’s look at those things and then figure out which one of those actually can apply machine learning.”

“It’s not about being a small [startup], because they’re not, and that’s one of the things that hurt them.”

Speaking with BetaKit during the event, Rangle CEO Nick Van Weerdenburg shared his insight on the challenges enterprises face. Rangle partners with companies that are rethinking their development, design, and strategy, and the CEO said he sees them struggling the most with implementing agile processes.

“Agile is hard because it is all about the supporting processes, the teamwork, the culture, the empowerment of the teams, decision-making cadence, how flat the organization is,” Van Weerdenburg said. “Going back to DevOps, it’s really created a second generation agile transformation and we’re seeing amazing things.”

Teams working on digital transformation should report right to the top, Van Weerdenburg said, since decision-making processes often prioritize the “old” way of doing business. Giving digital transformation leaders an equal seat at the table ensures that the transformation actually happens.

“It takes time to go through these organizational changes…it’s not about being a small [startup], because they’re not, and that’s one of the things that hurt them,” he said. “They tried to take an agile process that a startup would use and that doesn’t fit in a larger company.”

BetaKit is an Elevate Digital Transformation media partner – this article is sponsored by Capital One. Photo via Twitter.

Jessica Galang

Jessica Galang

Freelance tech writer. Former BetaKit News Editor.