Digital transformation and sprints: how Globant helps companies metaphorically eat an elephant

Globant is in the business of transforming companies, using what it calls the latest digital cognitive technologies. And for some companies, it is a truly massive challenge. “It’s like asking, how do you eat an elephant?” says Rachel Armstrong, Studio Partner Consulting, at Globant. But she says digital transformation needs to be broken into sprints.

Globant, is an Argentinian company, founded in 2003, with it’s first client: The company expanded through development and technology so that today they have various studios, each with different specialities scattered all over the world. There are around 20 different studios in total, each one aligned predominantly around new technologies and emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things or AI.

So how do they work with clients?

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“You can’t do digital transformation as an agency” says Rachel, “you have to do it as a partnership. So we actually create long-lasting relationships with brands and organisations, to ensure that we get meaningful results.

“The client knows their business,” but Globant knows technology and knows technology in a very practical sense, too.

“The client needs to be open-minded to collaboration to enable us to identify what the best practices are and how to optimise their services and their products, and then understand how we can help them benefit from the touch-points of their existing and new journey that they want to go on.”

According to Globant’s own research, half of organisations have no clear definition of how employees and AI will work together.

And it seems the user of technology within an organisation is often out of the loop. Only 16% of stakeholders including those who will use the technology, are involved in conversations about AI internally.

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Challenge them

Rachel says that a key starting point is challenging clients. “So we ask questions, we use design thinking methodologies to be able to get them to start thinking differently about the problem,“ to really define it.

In short, it is not just about throwing tech at a problem, but really understanding ‘why’, ‘what for’, and ‘how’.

It seems the key is to break it down into stages.

“You start with incremental changes; you can’t go into digital transformation and think that you’re company X and then next week you’re going to be company Y and ‘we’re going to be able to tackle head-on all of,“You have to be able to look at what the quick wins are. You need to look at what the infrastructure internally looks like, what their aspirations and objectives are and what their competitors and non-competitors are doing.”

Her point about non-competitors is interesting,. These days, it’s not just about applying technology better than rivals, customers don’t live in vacuums. They buy products from companies in other sectors, and they form expectations. So, how non-competitors fulfill customer needs, applying technology, matters too.

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“To really create digital transformation, you need to focus on behavioural nudges of your end customers. You have to include them through the process.

“We never embark on transformation without including end users, they have to be fundamental to the process of change. And this changes the mindset of the organisation, too.

“You’d be surprised by how many organisations, especially at the executive and leadership level, have never really sat with or observed their customers using their services and their products, not for a long time.

We fail fast, we can pivot,  we bring agility into the process

“This way you can really understand the opportunities, gaps in the market,” and how technology comes into play.

What does this mean, practically?

“We work on a sprint process, called Ignite. We have a mix of consultants, covering strategy, design, innovation and technologists and we have a group of individuals who work on a specific task, typically in 4-week sprints.

“Within those 4-week sprints, we have phases.

• There is co-discovery phase where we understand the problem.
• Then we go into the co-defined phase, which is around identifying those opportunities.
• Then we design something, so that’s co-design, where we look at the potential solutions.
• And then we refine, co-refine, so we’re consolidating and building some of the solutions.”

“The process is iterative. We fail fast, we can pivot, which is where you bring not just agile, but agility into the process. And throughout this process, we include the stakeholders from the business, including the consumers. So we’re validating all of the assumptions and hypotheses that we have, or the business has, throughout the entire process.”

They can understand because they’ve not heard it from us as a partnership but they’ve heard it because this is what their end users are saying, or this is what their colleagues are saying, or this is what the business is saying

The customer

So Globant helps clients apply digital transformation in sprints, but how does the customer form part of this  process?”

“We include the consumers in a number of different ways. We hold co-creation workshops, where we invite customers and clients to work together and share problems and assumptions and test those. We do ethnographic work, so we actually shadow consumers in their daily lives, to understand how they’re interacting with a service or a product in their situation and in their life.

“That could be somebody from a broker who is working in an office, or somebody who is trying to interact, report crime, or find out their account balance on their phone. So we do observations, we do co-creation and also we do call usability testing.

“As we get further into the design and development of the service and product, we sit and provide scenarios, mock-ups and prototypes that we have created and get consumers to do functional tasks with what we’ve designed, so that we can see the usability of it, we can understand the user experience of it, we can test the interactions of it.

“We can then iterate and develop something better.

The client

“So all of those different ways of interacting with the customer is applied throughout the process. And the clients, the organisation is brought in on that journey. The digital transformation for a client can’t work unless the client experiences the process of change throughout.

“They can understand because they’ve not heard it from us as a partnership but they’ve heard it because this is what their end users are saying, or this is what their colleagues are saying, or this is what the business is saying.

“So it’s not just helping their consumer products but we also help them internally to change the business.”

Digital transformation and sprinting to minimum viable products to minimal marketable product

“I think that the actual sprint process enables organisations to learn and adapt quickly, while eliminating risk because they’re not spending 18 months plus redesigning something that is a bolt-on to a legacy system. Or they don’t simply apply a new piece of tech because they’re technically driven, or they’re not innovating something that isn’t actually required or needed or of value to a customer.

“Because we go through this iterative, learn quickly, fail fast process, we can eliminate the risks so when they actually go to launch, they launch something that people want and need.

“We then create minimum viable products (MVPs), which come out of the sprints.

“And after creating, perhaps multiple MVPs, we move to minimal lovable products, because you’ve got to have something that is more than an MVP, it’s something that hooks on an emotional state.

“And then from a minimal lovable product we move to the minimal marketable product, which is the public-facing product and then full launch.

Back to the elephant

“So that’s how we eat the elephant. We cut it into sprints. We get a real core understanding of their business and then we provide small MVPs which also deliver success quickly. So you get more buy-in from the business, the organisation, because they’re not waiting for a launch — they’re seeing all of these small launches, which are actionable and tangible.

“They can see where the money is being spent.”

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Michael Baxter

.Michael Baxter is a tech, economic and investment journalist. He has written four books, including iDisrupted and Living in the age of the jerk. He is the editor of and the host of the ESG...

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