Sanjay Sood, senior vice president and CTO of CDW, spoke Oct. 27 at the CDW Executive SummIT in Chicago.

Nov 04 2022

CDW Executive Summit: Paving the Way for Digital Transformation

CDW experts share their perspectives on how to best enable digital transformation, which starts with bringing the right people together.

Digital transformation is something many organizations are familiar with. In this modern age, IT leaders must consider how digital technologies can complement, improve or totally transform everything from business processes to customer experiences.

In a session at the recent CDW Executive SummIT in Chicago, Sanjay Sood, CDW’s senior vice president and CTO, explained that digital transformation success hinges on leadership alliance and that CDW’s digital transformation strategy reflects this. He noted that among the teams he works with, there is “clear alignment around the need for technology transformation.”

It’s not just about investing in the right technology, it’s also about ensuring you have the right people deploying it and adopting it. Ultimately, said Sood, digital transformation is a pillared approach that depends on people, process and technology.

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The Power of a Strong Technology Foundation

As Sood explained, the power of technology is unprecedented. It drives customer value, efficiency and growth, all while helping organizations achieve better outcomes. The lack of a strong, innovative technology foundation can prevent organizations from reaching their goals.

Sood said CDW puts technology at the center of its “entire corporate strategy,” recognizing that technology should act as the catalyst to change. When organizations are ready to make changes, Sood and his team consider how the technology can help meet business goals, scale alongside the organization and deliver better insights along the way.

Part of developing a foundation that can support digital transformation is aligning leadership to prioritize change. “From our CEO or board to the executive committee that I work with very closely, there’s clear alignment around the need for the technology transformation” Sood said.

WATCH: Learn how leadership and tech can work together in a hybrid environment.

What Practices Best Support Digital Transformation?

With unified leadership, CDW has been able to propel its digital transformation strategy through a combination of agile processes, technology initiatives and an effort to reframe the concept of transformation. CDW moved to a scaled agile framework, allowing the company to optimize processes such as quarterly planning. It also increased flexibility to respond to things like market fluctuations, permitting Sood and his team to react and recalibrate in real time.

Sood also sees great benefits from modernization initiatives, including component and software upgrades. These initiatives take place each spring, he said, when his team sets aside time to address them. This helps CDW tackle their technical debt year-round while also working on broader modernization efforts across the organization.

Finally, reframing transformation relies on balance, Sood said, noting that there must be acknowledgement of the organization’s internal and external initiatives. It’s important to work toward internal goals while meeting customer demands and ensuring customers receive the highest quality of service. Digital transformation will continue, but it’s up to organizations to implement strategies that enable internal growth and support external efforts.

The Fine Line Between Success and Failure in Digital Transformation

Technology alone doesn’t enable digital transformation — change management is critical, Sood said. Specifically, it’s people that make the difference. First, organizations must develop strategies to promote value and increase adoption.

Second, having the appropriate team can make all the difference. Sood noted the importance of getting the right people in the right leadership positions. Identifying people who have a “journey mindset,” who are committed to driving change and who possess a range of skills — technical, communicative, planning and more — is fundamental to a successful digital transformation strategy.

Sanjay Sood
It’s a journey, not a destination.”

Sanjay Sood Senior Vice President and CTO, CDW

Third, recognize that transformation is ongoing. CDW understands that as market conditions, compliance and customer demands change, so, too, must their technologies and respective strategies. “The moment you're done with this one arc of transformation, there's a whole new set of things that you have to do. … It’s a journey, not a destination,” said Sood.

Using data to drive business decisions and achieve a smarter customer experience is an additional approach Sood sees as necessary to drive successful digital transformation. CDW works to process and implement data in an intelligent way, while maintaining compliance, he said.

Finally, it’s important to know when and how to sunset systems, including reviewing legacy technology. While technology alone will not drive digital transformation, having the wrong technology in place can slow or prevent it. Re-examining your technology footprint can be the difference between success and failure.

There’s no question digital transformation isn’t slowing down. Organizations have new opportunities every day to execute strategies that will help them maintain their foothold in the continuously changing world of IT. Keeping technology at the center, having the right people in place and regularly reviewing the IT environment can lead to digital transformation success.

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Photography by Kwynci Fields

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