Yesterday, the 10th TBM Conference kicked off in Austin, Texas. It was a full day of sharing ideas on how technology business management (TBM) powers you to do more to win the digital race — more digital fluency, more financial agility, and more value from your technology investments. Here are some of the highlights from the day.
Using TBM to ensure every dollar invested in technology delivers value
Stanley Black & Decker VP and CIO Rhonda Gass opened the conference by thanking the entire TBM community for its decade of contributions to the TBM Council. Apptio Co-Founder and CEO Sunny Gupta then highlighted the economic parallels between the macroeconomic environment when Apptio started in 2007 and today’s economy. “Apptio was founded during the Great Recession to help customers replan and refocus their technology budgets. Now, 15 years later, customers still rely on Apptio and TBM to gain comprehensive visibility into their technology investments,” said Gupta.
As the TBM category became pervasive, organizations looked toward digital and cloud as levers to alter the customer and employee experiences. And then the coronavirus pandemic happened. “Every company was forced to become digital to survive — and adopt cloud faster. They had no choice,” said Gupta. “Digital and cloud have accelerated in a way no one could have predicted. Winning teams ensure that every dollar invested in technology delivers value.”
The economic upheavals since 2020 have increased the need for TBM. Ken Rodgers, chief digital strategist at the Department of State, joined Sunny to talk about his organization’s pivot at the start of the pandemic. “We went from a 2% telework footprint to 95% in two months,” said Rodgers. The reinvention of its work structure reframed how he talks about technology investments. “We don’t have to defend an IT budget by the numbers. Instead, we frame it around the value IT delivers supporting our evolving work structure,” he said.
My main takeaway from this session was that the raw materials you use to build products are evolving — as are the frameworks you need to manage them. “Technology is driving every process in the enterprise. It’s the key to delivering value and transforming experiences for customers and employees,” said Gupta. Cloud solutions and product-led development rely on lifecycle management decisions supported by the modernized TBM discipline and complemented by the FinOps framework.
Driving digital transformation and supercharging financial agility
Jim McGrath, UPS’s vice president, IT & engineering business office; and Ken Finnerty, UPS’s president of IT applications development & advanced analytics; joined Apptio President of Field Operations Larry Blasko to discuss how UPS is constantly evolving. “One percent of companies survive 100 years. Unless you are constantly innovating or evolving, your organization is probably not sticking around,” said McGrath. It was interesting to hear how they evaluate technology trends and how they decide which ones to invest in. “Small changes in efficiency scale out to huge gains. A one-mile change in delivery routes can save millions; visibility into the delivery chain with RFID labels lower delivery error rates,” McGrath said.
It was great to hear advice about the right time to start TBM. McGrath and Finnerty emphasized the importance of executive involvement and pointed to specific activities that increase executive engagement. “Have leadership review the bill of IT so they understand what’s driving costs and what they can do to change them,” said Finnerty.
A message I’ve heard before at this conference is that a TBM program is dynamic—it’s constantly looking for the next opportunity. UPS is clearly living this truth when assessing the areas to work on next (“We are getting better at saying ‘no’ when investments don’t tie to outcomes,” McGrath said.) and their broader collaboration with the rest of the business.
Embed innovation into everyone’s DNA
As a Disney fan, I was especially excited to introduce former Disney Head of Innovation & Creativity Duncan Wardle to speak about how to create spaces for taking creative risks.
Wardle used an idea I’ve only ever heard associated with improvisational theater. Namely, in a culture of innovation, you lead with “yes, and…” rather than “no, because…” Children are curious and think expansively — they are hardwired to say “yes, and.” Over time we begin to think reductively and get stuck on the reasons why we can’t do something. But expansive thinking drives creativity — and collaboration is the best accelerant. “When you work with others on creative ideas, they get bigger—and they change from ‘my idea’ into ‘our idea,’” he said. He gave the audience a wonderful piece of advice: never let “no, because” be the first thing that comes out of your mouth when someone comes to you with an idea.
He framed his ideas around the concept of “the river of thinking.” Our experiences shape our point of view, but what happens when your experiences don’t match up with a new way of thinking? Our river of thinking becomes too narrow and slow. “The best way of expanding ‘the river’ is by asking the ‘what if’ questions about existing rules or business models,” said Wardle. He discussed how the Netflix 1.0 model (three DVDs at a time by mail) was a direct response to asking “what if” about the rules at Blockbuster; Netflix 2.0 was a “what if” response to thinking about streaming technology.
No matter what industry you work in, Wardle made it clear that innovation will help you win the digital race. “Innovation used to be trendy; now it’s about survival,” said Wardle.
A successful first day at TBMC22
Yesterday was a great start to our conference. It’s always amazing to see the TBM community come together and share ideas, collaborate, and learn from each other. Today, I’m really looking forward to hearing how Apptio’s new innovations will help our customers thrive in this rapidly changing environment. I look forward to seeing you in Austin or online during the virtual conference experience starting November 15-16. Sign up today!