Philips is in the midst of a digital transformation, which over the last two years has been led by Group CIO Alpna Doshi. She inherited a stalled transformational journey and got it moving again by achieving a change in the team’s mindset. Doshi put IT in the role of business partner. “I consider myself to be a part of the business.”
The role of CIO – within the complex Philips environment – comes with great responsibility. “IT is the beating heart, truly connected to every other part of Philips,” according to Doshi. IT spans seventeen markets, including the United States and Greater China. The CEO is also highly engaged in IT and the overall digital transformation required to help succeed on Philips’ mission to improve three billion lives by 2025.
The transformation is still ongoing – a continuous journey from milestone to milestone. When Doshi joined two years ago, she stepped into a stalled project: many attempts to transition were made over the past several years without success.
“Everyone was conducting root cause analysis analyses’ over and over again,” mentions Doshi. “I suggested to just get started – based on experience and instinct – and thought about how we could move to a focused, results-oriented approach. But at the same time, the digital backbone had to be in place – however boring that may sound. Because that is the required foundation for sexier business and cool, agile teams."
The complexity of the transformation was a selling point on the position for Doshi. "If it were simple, I would not have taken up this role,” she explains. “Especially when it comes to the question of how markets, businesses and IT can come together successfully.”
As CIO, she looks at IT challenges as if they are business imperatives that must be solved – and she is extremely determined and decisive to reach those goals. "To me, it is quite simple: if there is a problem, it has to be solved, regardless of where it sits. I’m not interested in whether I’m on the payroll for IT or the business."
Doshi institutionalized the first phase of the IT transformation over the past year. The most important part being the creation of the Philips Integrated Landscape Implementation Organization (PIO), a CEO-crucial transformation organization that covers nineteen global programs.
In one of those programs, fifty kernels were consolidated to only six. That also meant the dismantling of a large number of legacy systems.
"I built an entirely separate organization with cross-functional teams. It holds nineteen programs that run simultaneously in just as many different areas, including a data track and a quality track on top of that,” adds Doshi.
“A change and control board was put in place to ensure cohesion. That did lead to a lot of questions. Is this what a CIO is supposed to do? I’d like to think so: I’m solving business challenges. After all, I consider myself to be a part of the business.”
What can Philips do now that was unthinkable two years ago? According to Doshi the answer is simple: "The transformation is running, at a high-speed."
Next to that, Doshi’s most proud of the change in employees’ attitudes. "That was, in fact, one of the greatest challenges. Our workforce had a lot of meetings and discussed things over and over, however no decisions were made,” explains Doshi. “I was there to help them make those decisions faster, set up a proper governance and to motivate our IT colleagues."
Alpna emphasizes the fact that she couldn’t have done this without the support of the IT Leadership Team and Executive Committee. The beginning was lonely. "I turned the organization upside-down. That does not make you a popular human being. And I do actually want to be liked, just like everyone else. I had to really make an effort there.”
The most ambitious project for the coming year is for IT to further evolve in its role as business partner. "IT has to be seen as a growth engine, as a driver, not just as an enabler. And how do I convince the CxOs that the CIO is required at the table? That’s the holy grail, that’s what I’m going for.”
“Enterprise IT has been perceived to just be taking care of the operational back-end for far too long,” says Doshi. “Fortunately, there are already a lot of initiatives in which strategy, innovation and IT collaborate intensively. That just works so much better. IT is not just an enabler, it’s a driver of business success: part of the business. Originally published here.
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