Organisational change of any size is rarely easy. Now, imagine having to transform the way a highly distributed workforce of 90,000 employees communicates, collaborates and ideates. For good measure, factor in the challenge of serving current and prospective customers while establishing your company as an independent enterprise.
This was what Kyndryl faced when it launched as an independent company after separating from IBM in 2021. We emerged as the world’s largest people-driven services company with a unique vision for delivering signature employee experiences. To support our fresh approach to doing business, Kyndryl needed to transition off existing technology platforms and exit temporary licensing agreements we had negotiated. We gave ourselves nine months or less to do it.
We analysed numerous vendors and solutions before ultimately partnering with Microsoft, whose technologies could power our digital-first vision and sustain our hybrid workplace model. Today, all Kyndryl employees use the Microsoft 365 platform and its suite of fully integrated applications to be productive and collaborative anywhere their work takes them. Our digital toolbox includes Exchange, Office, Teams, OneDrive, SharePoint, Planner, Power Apps, Power BI, and other applications, all supported by Microsoft and Kyndryl security products. Perhaps as importantly, we’ve garnered valuable lessons that others can use when plotting their course for transformation.
So, if your company is thinking about embarking on a campaign of comparable size and scope, Kyndryl’s Digital Workplace Services practice has the experience and expertise to support your transition.
Here are five tips that we believe are crucial to success:
1. Focus on your employees
If you subscribe to the idea that the employee experience is inextricably linked to the customer experience, you must keep the overall well-being of your team at the core of all you do. This was key to our Microsoft 365 strategy. For example, we opted to retain our existing technology stack in the near term. We felt it would be easier to begin serving clients with the tools our employees were accustomed to and then plan for a more comprehensive transition in the future.
2. Create a change management strategy
Long before initiating any sizeable transformation, you must plot a detailed course for your journey. Our chief information officers worked in tandem with key Microsoft advisors to map, refine and solidify a three-phase strategy for platform migration. In phase one, we began activating tools in the Microsoft 365 technology stack. The first applications we brought online were SharePoint, Teams and OneDrive, with a soft launch in April 2022, followed by staggered activations of Whiteboard, Yammer and other 365 tools. In June, we also started sunsetting the tools in our previous tech stack based on the expiration dates of their respective licensing agreements.
Initially, phase two will focus on finishing the migration of all Kyndryl data on our existing storage platform to OneDrive and launching Microsoft Power Platform. This collection of business apps aggregates data across the organisation and will allow us to create local workflows using low-code/no-code programming. Efforts will then shift to implementing Microsoft 365 Multi-Geo, enabling us to provision and store data in geolocations outside the USA. Finally, once the foundational phases of our migration are complete, we’ll begin the gradual implementation of Microsoft Viva in our third phase.
3. Develop a robust training programme
Education is key for enablement, so we turned to Microsoft and other trusted partners to help us create a comprehensive instructional strategy. Our offerings currently include ‘Office Hours’, when Microsoft hosts live training sessions for Kyndryl employees who want virtual instruction on various Microsoft tools. Sessions are offered in five languages, as well as multiple time zones and experience levels to accommodate the varied needs of our employees. We also partnered with BrainStorm to offer QuickHelp, an on-demand program that provides training in Microsoft applications based on each employee’s job and skill set.
4. Remain transparent
If you don’t have answers to everything, admit it. Be honest and tell people, “Hey, we don’t have an immediate solution to your problem, but we welcome feedback. We’ll figure this out together and get where we need to be. We just ask for a little patience.” By remaining transparent, we’ve strengthened relationships and built trust with employees throughout the organisation.
5. Reimagine your measures of success
At some point, you’ll have to measure the performance of any large-scale initiative you undertake. However, our Microsoft 365 transition focuses on qualitative assessments rather than traditional metrics. In the short term, we’re using the ramp-down of existing applications and the adoption and usage of our new tools as key performance indicators. We draw insights from the net promoter scores that Microsoft collects and pay close attention to the comments we receive through the Teams feedback function.
Learn more about Kyndryl’s partnership with Microsoft.
Carla Granger is global leader of experience, design and practice partnerships and chief information officer of workplace experience at Kyndryl
This article was originally published in the Winter 2022 issue of Technology Record. To get future issues delivered directly to your inbox, sign up for a free subscription.