I was brought into my current role at ASTM to deliver change, as I have many times throughout my career. But this time, it seemed different. I was walking into a traditional organization with a clear and aggressive vision of transformation.
ASTM, at its core, has traditionally been a standards organization that develops and publishes voluntary consensus technical standards for a wide range of materials, products, systems, and services. We have a consortium of 30,000 plus scientists, engineers, researchers and academics that volunteer their time to develop new maintain over 13,000 current standards across several industries.
However, the transformative vision moved beyond this traditional model and into a digital future, where business, technology and operating models worked hand in hand to deliver new value and new business models to market.
At the end of the day, to realize the full vision for the organization, each member on the executive team would be affected by the enabling technology. At the outset of the initiative, we embarked on a Value Stream Mapping exercise that connected our current state to the future vision in a tangible and actionable way.
This alignment allowed us to implement a data-driven, agile process that not only backed up our progress with data and results, but it allowed us to take the necessary steps to drive transformation and usher change across the company– building the organizational structure, operating model and culture that would allow us to modernize and gain adoption of our technology.
Organizational Structure + Operating model + Culture
To start the change, I started where I always start, by listening. We performed a holistic audit of our current state of the IT organization, documenting the technologies, processes, capabilities and org structure to get a sense of current bandwidth and velocity of the organization. This insight allowed me to not only uncover the opportunities to move quickly but identify the challenges that might stand in our way to achieve our vision. This insight allowed me to align the executive team around core elements of our transformation approach and where we would need to make investments. These fell into two buckets:
1) Agility: We needed to create a more agile culture to increase our output velocity while at the
same time, track results to provide visibility back to the business while we worked to
accomplish our objectives.
2) Capability: While our technology and incredibly knowledgeable staff, partners and vendors were
allowing us to maintain our leadership position in the industry, we weren’t making the
strides or placing the right bets to truly maximize on our value. We needed to focus our
resources and double down on how technology could create the pathway to our vision
for the future.
At the end of the day, transforming an internal IT organization, structure, and working model really comes down to two critical elements – the culture and the people. The first is about being more agile with the ability to work faster with greater quality, and the second is about creating a dynamic ‘right-sourced’ resource infrastructure – connecting the right capability matrix internally with the right partner matrix that can augment our business needs. We work with several strategic partners, from the likes of PwC, TestingXperts and Icreon, who help establish the right external capability matrix and execute against our vision to bring ASTM 2.0 to life.
Importance of modernizing technology
Throughout my career, I’ve seen, first-hand, the transition of industry from being product or service driven to technology driven. In almost every industry, every business today is becoming a technology business tomorrow – if it hasn’t already happened.
Now, with the adoption of AI, IoT and other new technologies, the value that companies can provide through technology is becoming exponential. In reality, today’s modern businesses are synonymous with technology. Not only can they generate better experiences and build new value propositions for growth, but they can systematically reduce operating costs and overheads for the organization.
This transformation doesn’t just happen. It is a careful coordination of business and technology – where executive teams set the vision for the company and then leverage the right technologies to bring that vision to life for their customers, partners, employees. Technology isn’t an end all and be all, but, when utilized strategically and applied accordingly, it can become a crucial enabler for a business.
As we’ve seen with ASTM, the importance of modernizing technology isn’t about the initial outcome, but it’s about setting the organization up for future success. By having a modern technology stack, clean data and interoperable infrastructure, the ability to move quickly in the marketplace to capitalize on opportunities is exponentially more realistic than utilizing legacy systems.