Alan Brown, talks to Mike O’Rourke, Chief R&D Officer at Digital.ai, to speak on his perspective of digital transformation, achieving comprehensive OKR’s, and connecting the business and IT units.
Alan Brown, Digital Transformation Advisor at Digital.ai, conducts a series of interviews with various members of the organization. The second in the series, Alan virtually sits down with Mike O’Rourke, Chief R&D Officer at Digital.ai, to speak on his perspective of digital transformation, achieving comprehensive OKR’s, and connecting the business and IT units.
As businesses continue to replace manual processes with digital processes, the quest for digital transformation advances. For some, the journey to digital transformation was already underway, embracing an agile methodology for months prior leading to the pandemic. For others, the process has just begun. For companies such as Digital.ai, the goal of achieving complete digitality has been met with its fair share of disruptions, ranging from integrating five companies into one, to learning how to go completely remote due to COVID.
Mike O’Rourke has seen firsthand how the integration of five companies into one can affect a company’s goal-setting priorities and achievements.
“We’ve got different tools and processes that each company brought in,” says O’Rourke. “Some were using a SAFe process, some were using extreme methodologies, and some were using Scrum. My job is to help them create a common set of digital transformation technologies, processes, and get the people really working towards looking at a single goal.”
Though each organization on their own were acutely attuned to the needs and motivations of their previous company, the merging of multiple goals into one, comprehensive objective has been a challenge.
The primary challenge in question for Digital.ai? Connecting the business and the IT organization together. For O’Rourke to solve this problem, he needs a set of tools that can help him map what the corporate goals are, while simultaneously allowing everyone within the company to have visibility and understand the capabilities and metrics that such tools can provide.
A Customer-Centric Approach
Having such visibility will allow for those involved to always be aware of the bigger picture at Digital.ai and subsequently help continue the digital transformation journey. O’Rourke has seen a similar approach when it comes to aiding customers on a digital transformation of their own.
Digital.ai has a set of OKR’s specifically designed with the success of the customer in mind. At their core, these OKR’s consist of:
- How can we improve our customer retention rates?
- How can we improve our new and expansion revenue goals?
- How can we improve our partner relationships?
Once these OKR’s were established, O’Rourke looked to break them down from the high-level foundation into something more measurable.
“The first job was to map everything we do into those corporate OKR’s. We need to understand if there’s a specific feature or product, or update to a website that relates directly back to the outputs we create,” O’Rourke states. “And everyone from marketing to sales to customer success and support is involved in that.”
The second step is to then gather all that information effectively into a data lake and leverage a common data model, whether through using open-source or freemium capabilities, or even through Digital.ai products. The integration of Digital.ai apps with a product from a company called Pendo helps O’Rourke and his team to capture what the customers are experiencing when they’re leveraging Digital.ai’s products. This subsequently allows him to measure key metrics such as the OKR’s.
Moving the Needle
Looking towards the future, it’s important not to lose sight of the big picture. For O’Rourke and Digital.ai, that sought-after image is connecting the technical work with the business work.
“The business has a set of corporate goals, and our CEO wants to know which things move the needle. What was it?” O’Rourke questions. “Was it the investment I made in customer support and the tools that they have? Was it the fact that the product management team and the development team created something fantastic?”
Without an idea of what moves the proverbial needle, development teams can quickly end up becoming a cost center instead of a strategic center. O’Rourke has been working with various teams within Digital.ai to improve key metrics and remain strategic.
The key now becomes to create an attribution model that will track which activities, capabilities, and metrics are the ones that will help an organization really understand and bridge that gap between the business. Some examples of O’Rourke’s efforts to bridge the gap include:
- Ensuring that Digital.ai has internal SLAs for customer response times.
- Keeping SLAs in terms of uptime for SaaS products.
- Overseeing a lab advocate program that has Digital.ai developers directly working with their customers.
Connecting for Change
As companies look toward the future and continue to digitally transform, an age-old problem remains: What is the implication for change and how will it make a difference for organizations?
“One of the things that we’ve been able to avoid, thanks to one of the companies Digital.ai bought, is take all of this data and bring it together in a conformed way,” O’Rourke states. “Instead, we use artificial intelligence to look hard at that data and really understand the years and years of information that we’ve got just from our tools.”
Leveraging this data can predict whether a change is going to increase risk, determine whether the mean time to respond or change something is improving, or a variety of other metrics.
Businesses need to come together in a digital way in order to provide the insight and action that a CEO or head of an organization wants to see. Connecting all these factors together is essential in order to truly affect the outcomes that an organization is trying to create, the most important being to improve OKR’s.
Learn more about how AI analytics can move the needle in our webinar: “How to use AIOps to improve stability and accelerate innovation”