Master Class: How to drive digital transformation in IT and throughout the organization (with podcast)

Listen and learn as VP of business technology Paul Friedman explains how Humana transformed itself into a digital-first, customer-centric organization. This free knowledge bundle includes an article, audio transcript and slide deck.

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IT leaders in companies of every size and speciality are under pressure these days to digitally transform their organizations in order to move closer to the customer and grow the business.

Admirable goals, but how to achieve them -- particularly in large organizations with established ways of functioning and many thousands of employees to educate and motivate toward new ways of working?

Humana, a Fortune 100 healthcare organization in Louisville, Ky. (and one of Computerworld's Best Places to Work in IT), chose to tackle the project boldly -- creating two new entities to lead digital change, one focused on the customer experience, another on technology and operations.

The undertaking was significant, given the size of the company (some 50,000 employees and 14.2 million medical members nationwide), the number of legacy systems it supported, particularly related to claims processing, and the fact that, as the one of the nation’s top providers of Medicare Advantage benefits, many of its customers are not digital natives.

As a featured speaker at IDG’s recent AGENDA16 conference, Paul Friedman, VP of business technology, described Humana's digital journey and sketched out lessons learned that other firms can use as a blueprint for their own digital transformations. (Listen here to an audio podcast of Friedman's complete AGENDA16 presentation.)

Realizing several years ago that interacting with the company digitally was a "jarring experience" for consumers, Humana created a Digital Center of Excellence to centralize the efforts of disparate groups in the organization to provide customers with a digital experience.

As part of the same customer-centric reorganization, the firm also brought on a Chief Consumer Officer, charged with overseeing consumer analytics, user experience and user design -- "everything that touches the front end of the digital space," Friedman explains.

The organization next turned its attention to technology. While the IT department was already largely agile, Friedman says, there was an urgent need to deliver more products more quickly to a wider variety of business partners. To meet those demands, Humana created a Digital Experience Center (DEC), which pairs digital experts from the consumer side with tech pros from IT (some 40 hand-picked staffers from a pool of around 400 in IT). The goal was to promote "nimble, efficient and rapid development of digital experiences," Friedman explains.

Physically, the center is an open, airy space organized around a common area -- "everybody's out in the open and working, everybody's together," Friedman says. A long bay of windows intentionally faces the street level at Humana's Louisville headquarters. "If we want to attract the best talent possible, we have to showcase that talent," Friedman says. "It's a little bit of Silicon Valley here in the midwest."

The physical transparency of the center is meant to mirror organizational transparency that allows teams to come together easily, work rapidly, identify problems early on, and deliver products quickly to their business owners. A digital dashboard in the center displays the status of every product the teams are building -- red lights, which signal a problem, rarely stay red for long, Friedman says.

Beyond transparency, the DEC delivers other key attributes -- collaboration, discipline, rapid iteration and employee enablement -- which Friedman explains in detail in his talk.

Please click on the audio file above to listen to the podcast of Friedman's AGENDA16 presentation, and be sure as well to download his slide deck, below, for accompanying visuals -- including a peek at the Digital Experience Center.

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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