How Digital Transformation Navigates Disruption to Chart A Better Course to the New Normal
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How Digital Transformation
Navigates Disruption to Chart
A Better Course to the New Normal
A discussion on how HPE Pointnext Services advises organizations on using digital
transformation to take advantage of new and emerging market opportunities.
Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Download the transcript. Sponsor: Hewlett
Dana Gardner: Hello, and welcome to the next edition of the BriefingsDirect Voice of
Innovation podcast series.
I’m Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, your host and moderator for
this timely discussion on architecting businesses for managing ongoing disruption.
As enterprises move past crisis mode in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, they
require a systemic capability to better manage shifting market trends.
Stay with us now as we examine how Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) Pointnext
Services advises organizations on using digital transformation to take advantage of new
and emerging opportunities.
Here to share the Pointnext view on transforming businesses to effectively innovate in
the new era of pervasive digital business, is Craig Partridge, Senior Director Worldwide,
Digital Advisory and Transformation Practice Lead, at HPE Pointnext Services. Welcome
Craig Partridge: Hey, Dana. Good to speak with you again.
Gardner: Craig, how has the response to the pandemic accelerated the need for
comprehensive digital transformation?
Disruption demands digital solutions
Partridge: We speak to a lot of customers around the world. And the one thing that we
are picking up very commonly is a little bit counterintuitive.
At the beginning of the pandemic -- in fact, at the beginning of any major disruption --
there is a sense that companies will put the brakes on and slow everything down. And
that happened as we went through this initial period. Preserving cash and liquidity kicked
in and a minimum viable operating model emerged. People were reluctant to invest.
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But as they now begin to see the shifting landscape in industries, we are beginning to
see a recognition that those pivoting out of these disruptive moments the quickest -- with
sustained, long-term viability built behind how they accelerate -- those organizations are
the ones driving new experiences and new
insights. They are pushing hard on the digital
agenda. In other words, digitally active
companies seem to be the ones pivoting
quicker out of these disruptions -- and coming
out stronger as well.
So although there was an initial pause as people pivoted to the new normal, we are
seeing now acceleration of initiatives or projects, underpinned by technology, that are
fundamentally about reshaping the customer experience. If you can do that through
digital engagement models, you can continue to drive revenue and customer loyalty
because you are executing those valued transactions through digital platforms.
Gardner: Has the pandemic and response made digital transformation more attractive?
If you have to do more business digitally, if your consumers and your supply chain have
become more digital, is this a larger opportunity?
Partridge: Yes, it’s not only more attractive – it’s more
essential. That’s what we are learning.
A good example here in the UK, where I am based, is
that big retailers have traditionally been deeply into the
brick world experience of walking into a retail store or
supermarket, those kinds of big, physical spaces. They
figured out during this period of disruption that the only
way to continue to drive revenue and take orders was
on digital platforms. Well, guess what? Those digital
platforms were only scaled and sized for a certain kind
of demand, and that demand was based on a pre-
Now, they have to double or treble the capacity of their transactions across those digital
platforms. They are having to increase massively their capability to not only buy online,
but to get deliveries out to those customers as well.
So this transformation is not just an attractive thing to do. For many organizations
pivoting hard to digital engagement and digital revenue streams is their new normal.
That’s what they have to focus on -- and not just to survive but for beyond that. It’s the
direction to their new normal as well.
Gardner: It certainly seems that the behavior patterns of consumers, as well as
employees, have changed for the longer term when it comes to things like working at
Digitally active companies seem
to be the ones pivoting quicker
out of these disruptions – and
coming out stronger as well.
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home, using virtual collaboration, bypassing movie theaters for online releases, virtual
museums, and so forth.
For those organizations that now have to cater to those online issues and factor in the
support of their employees online, it seems to me that this shift in user behavior has
accelerated what was already under way. Do companies therefore need to pick up the
pace of what they are doing for their own internal digital transformation, recognizing that
the behaviors in the market have shifted so dramatically?
Partridge: Yes, in the past digital transformation focused on the customer experience,
the digital engagement channel, and building out that experience. You can relate that in
large parts to the shift toward e-commerce. But increasingly people are aware of the
need to integrate information about the physical space as well. And if this pandemic
taught us anything, it’s that they need to not only create great experiences – they must
create safe, great experiences.
What does that mean? I need to understand about my physical space so I can augment
my service offerings in a way that’s safe. We are looking at scenarios where using video
recognition and artificial intelligence (AI) will begin to work out whether that space being
used safely. Are there measurements we can put in place to protect people better? Are
people keeping certain social distancing rules?
All of that is triggering the next wave of
customer experience, which isn’t just the
online digital platform and digital
interactions, but -- as we get back out into
the world and as we start to occupy those
spaces again -- how do I use the insight
about the physical space to augment that
experience and make sure that we can
emerge safer, better, and enjoy those
digital experiences in a way that’s also
Beyond just the digital transactions side, now it’s much more about starting to address
the movement that was already long on the way -- the digitization of the physical world
and how that plays into making these experiences more beneficial.
Gardner: So if the move to digitally transform your organization is an imperative, if those
who did it earlier have an advantage, if those who haven’t done it want to do it more
rapidly -- what holds organizations back? What is it about legacy IT architectures that
are perhaps a handicap?
The next wave of customer
experience isn’t just the online digital
platform and digital interactions, but –
as we get back out into the world and
as we start to occupy those spaces
again – how do I use the insight about
the physical space to augment that
experience and make sure that we
can emerge safer, better, and enjoy
those digital experiences?
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Pivoting pointers from the cloud
Partridge: It’s a great question because when I talk to customers about moving into the
digital era, that triggers the question, “Well, what was there before this digital era?” And
we might argue it was the cloud era that preceded it.
Now, don’t get me wrong. These aren’t sequential. I’m not saying that the cloud era is
over and the digital era has replaced it. As you know, these are waves. And they rise on
top of each other. But organizations that are able to go fast and accelerate on the digital
agenda are often the same organizations.
The biggest constraint we see as organizations try to stress-test their digital age
adoption is to see if they actually have agility in the back end. Are the systems set up to
be able to scale on-demand as they start to pivot toward digital channels to engage their
customers? Does a recalibration of the supply chain mean applications and data are
placed in the right part of on- or off-premises cloud architecture supply chains?
if you haven’t gone through a
modernization agenda, if you haven’t
tackled that core innovation issue, if
you haven’t embraced cloud
architectures, cloud-scale, and
software-defined – and, increasingly,
by the way, the shift to things like
containerization, microservices, and
decomposing big monolithic
applications into manageable chunks that are application programming interface
(API)-connected -- if you haven’t gone through that cloud-enabled exploration prior to the
digital era, well, it looks like you still have some work to do before you can get the gains
that some of those other modern organizations are now able to express.
There’s another constraint, which is really key. For most of the customers we speak to, it
tends to be in and around the operating model. In a lot of conversations that I have with
customers, they over-invested in technology. They are on every cloud platform available.
They are using every kind of digital technology to gain a level of competitive advantage.
Yet, at the heart of any organization are the people. It’s the culture of the people and the
innovation of your people that really makes the difference. So, not least of all, the supply
chain agility, right in the heart of this conversation. It is the fundamental operating model
-- not just of IT, but the operating model of the entire organization.
So have they unticked their value chain? Have they looked at the key activities? Have
they thought when they implement new technology, and how that might replace or
augment activities? And what does that mean to the staff? Can you bring them with you,
and have you empowered them? Have you re-skilled them along the way? Have you
If you haven’t embraced cloud
architectures, cloud-scale, and
software-defined … if you haven’t gone
through that cloud-enabled exploration
prior to the digital era, well, it looks like
you still have some work to do.
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driven those cultural change programs to force that digital-first mindset, which is really
the key to success in all of this?
Gardner: So many interdependencies, so much complexity, frankly, when we’re thinking
about transacting across the external edge to cloud, to consumer, and to data center.
And we’re talking about business processes that need to extend into new supply chains
or new markets.
Given that complexity, tell us how to progress beyond understanding how difficult this all
can be and to adopt proven ways that actually work.
Universal model, method, has the edge
Partridge: For everything that we’ve talked about, we have figured out that there is a
universal model that organizations can use to methodologically go off into this space.
We found out that organizations are very
quickly pivoting to exploring their digital
edge. I think the digital agenda is an
edge-in conversation. Again, I think that
marks it out from the preceding cloud
era, which was much more about core-
out. That was get scale, efficiency, and cost optimization out of service delivery models
in-place. But that was a very core-out conversation. When you think digital, you have to
begin to think about the use case of where value is created or exchanged. And, that’s an
And we managed to find that there are two journeys behind that discussion. The first one
is about deciding to whom you are looking to deliver that digital experience. So when
you think about digital engagement, really caring passionately about who the beneficiary
persona is behind that experience. You need to describe that person in terms of what’s
their day-in-the-life. What pains do they face today? What gains could you develop that
could deliver better outcomes for them? How can you walk in their shoes, and how do
you describe that?
We found that is a key journey, typically led by kind of chief digital officer-type character
who is responsible for driving new digital engagement with customers. If the persona is
external to the customer, if it’s a revenue-generating persona, we might think of revenue
as the essential key performance indicator (KPI). But you can apply similar techniques to
drive internal personas’ productivity. So productivity becomes the KPI.
That journey is inspired by initiatives that are trying to use digital to connect to people in
new, innovative, and differentiated ways. And you’ll find different stakeholders behind
The digital agenda is an edge-in
conversation, … which marks it out
from the preceding cloud era, which
was much more about core-out.
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And we found another journey, which is reshaping the edge. And that’s much more
about using technology to digitize the physical world. So let’s hear about the experience,
about business efficiency and effectiveness at the edge -- and using the insights of
instrumenting and digitizing the physical world to give you a sense of how that space is
being used. How is my manufacturing floor performing? The KPI is overall equipment
effectiveness (OEE) in the manufacturing space and it becomes key. Behind this journey
you’ll see big Industry 4.0-type and Internet of Things (IoT)-type of initiatives under way.
If organizations are able to stitch these two journeys together -- rather than treat them as
siloed sandpits for innovation – and if they can connect them together, they tend to get
You asked about where the constraint comes in. As we said, it is about getting agility
into the supply chain. And again, we’ve actually found that there are two connected
journeys, but with very different stakeholders behind them, which drive that agenda.
We have a journey, too, that describes a core renovation agenda that will occupy 70 to
80 percent of every IT budget every year. It’s the constant need to challenge the price
performance of legacy environments and constantly optimize and move the workloads
and data into the right part of the supply chain for strategic advantage.
That is coupled with yet another journey, that of the cloud-enabled constraint and that’s
very much developer-led more than it is led by IT. IT is typically holding the legacy
footprint, the technical debt footprint, but the developer is out there looking to exploit
cloud-native architectures to write the next wave of applications and experiences. And
they are just as impactful when it comes to equipping the organization with the cloud
scale that’s necessary to mine those opportunities on the edge.
So, there is a balance in this
equation, to your point. There is
innovation at the edge, very much
line of business-driven, very much
about business efficiency and
effectiveness, or revenue and
productivity, the real tangible dollar
value outcomes. And on the other
side, it’s more about agility and the
supply chain. It’s getting that balance
right so that I have my agility and that
allows me to go and explore the world
digitally at the edge.
So they sort of overlap. And the implication there is that there are three core enablers
and they are true no matter which of the big four agenda items customers are trying to
drive through their initiative programs.
There is a balance. [On one side, it’s]
… innovation at the edge … business
efficiency and effectiveness ... the
real tangible dollar value outcomes.
And on the other side, it’s more about
agility and the supply chain. It’s
getting the balance right so that I
have my agility and that allows me to
go and explore the world digitally at
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In digital realm, data is everything
Two of those enablers very much relate to data. Again, Dana, I know in the digital era
data is everything. It is the glue that holds this new digital engagement model together.
In there we found two key enablers that constantly come up, no matter which agenda
you are driving.
The first one is surely you need intelligence from that data; data for its own sake is of no
use, it’s about getting intelligence from that dataset. And that’s not just to make better
decisions, but actually to innovate, to create differentiated value propositions in your
market. That’s really the key agenda behind that intelligence enabler.
And the second thing, because we are dealing with data, is a huge impact and emphasis
on being trusted with that data. And that doesn’t just mean being compliant to regulatory
standards or having the right kind of resiliency and cybersecurity approach, it means
going beyond that.
In this digitally enabled world, we want to trust
brands with our data because often that data
is now extremely personal. So beyond just
General Data Protection Regulation
(GDPR) compliance, trust here means, “Am I
being ethical? Am I being transparent about
how I use that data?” We all saw the Cambridge Analytica-type of impact and what
happens when you are not transparent and you are not ethical about how you use data.
Now, one thing we haven’t touched on and I will just throw it up as a bit of context, Dana.
There is a consideration, a kind of global consideration behind all of this agenda and
that’s the shift toward everything-as-a-service (EaaS).
A couple of key attributes of that consideration includes the most obvious one; it’s the
financial flexibility one. For sure, as you reassemble your supply chain -- as you continue
to press on that cloud-enabled side of the map -- what you are paying, what you
consume, and doing that in a strategic way helps get the right mix in that supply chain,
and paying only for that as you consume, is kind of obvious.
But I think the more important thing to understand is that our customers are being
equally innovative at the edge. So they are using that everything-as-a-service
momentum to change their industry, their market, and the relationship they have with
their customers. It helps especially as they pivot into a digital customer experience. Can
that experience be constructed around a different business model?
We found that that’s a really useful way of deconstructing and simplifying what is actually
quite a complex landscape. And if you can abstract -- if you can use a model to abstract
away the chaos and create some simplicity -- that’s a really powerful thing. We all know
In this digitally enabled world,
we want to trust brands with our
data because often that data is
now extremely personal.
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that good models that abstract away complexity and create simplicity are hugely
valuable in helping organizations reconstruct themselves.
Gardner: Clearly, before the pandemic, some organizations dragged their feet on digital
transformation as you’ve described it. They had a bit of inertia. But the pandemic has
spurred a lot of organizations, both public and private, on.
Hopefully, in a matter of some months or even a few years, the pandemic will be in the
rearview mirror. But we will be left with the legacy of it, which is an emerging business
paradigm of being flexible, agile, and more productive.
Are we going to get a new mode of business agility where the payoff is it commensurate
with all the work?
Agility augurs well post-pandemic
Partridge: That’s the $6 million question, Dana. I would love to crystal ball gaze with
you on that one because agility is key to any organization. We all know that there are
constraints in traditional customer experiences -- making widgets, selling products,
transactional relationships, relationships that don’t lend themselves to having digital
value added to them. I wonder how
long that model goes on for as we are
experiencing this shift toward digital
value. And that means not just selling
the widget or the product, but
augmenting that with digital
capabilities, with digital insights, and
with new ways of adding value to the
customer’s experience beyond just
the capital asset.
I think that was being fast-tracked before this global pandemic. And it’s the organizations
now that are in the midst of doubling down on that -- getting that digital experience right,
ahead of product and prices – that’s the key differentiator when you go to market.
And, for me, that customer experience increasingly now is the digital customer
experience. I think that move was well under way before we hit this big crisis. And I can
see customers now doubling down, so that if they didn’t get it right pre-pandemic, they
are getting it right as they accelerate out of the pandemic. They recognize that that
platform is the only way forward.
You will hear a lot of commentators talk about the digital agenda as being driven by what
they call the platform-driven economy. Can you create a platform in which your
customers are willing to participate, maybe even your ecosystem of partners who are
willing to participate and create that kind of shared experience and shared value? Again,
that’s something that HPE is very much invested in. As we pivot our business model, to
This shift toward digital value …
means not just selling the widget or
the product, but augmenting that with
digital capabilities, with digital
insights, and with new ways of adding
value to the customer’s experience
beyond just the capital asset.
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EaaS outcomes, we are having to double down on our customer experience and
increasingly that means digitizing that experience through that digital platform agenda.
Gardner: I would like to explore some examples of how this is manifesting itself. How
are organizations adjusting to the new normal and leveraging that to a higher level of
Also, why is a third-party organization like HPE Pointnext Services working within an
ecosystem model with many years of experience behind it? How are you specifically
gearing up to help organizations manage the process we have been describing?
HPE co-creates digital partnerships
Partridge: This whole revolution requires different engagement models. The
relationship HPE shares with its customers is becoming a technologically enabled
partnership. Whenever you partner with a customer to help advance their business
outcomes, you need a different way to engage with them.
We can continue to have our product-led engagement with customers, because many of
them enjoy that relationship. But as we continue to move up the value stack we are
going to need to swing to more of an advisory-led engagement model, Dana, where we
are as co-invested in the customers’ outcomes as they are.
We understand what they are trying to drive from a business perspective. We
understand how technology is opening up and enabling those kinds of outcomes to be
materialized, for the value to be realized.
A year ago, we set out to reshape
the way we engage with customers
around this conversation. To drive
that kind of digital partnership, that
means sitting down with a customer
and to co-innovate, going through
workshops of how we as
technologists can bring our expertise
to the customer as the expert in their industry. Those two minds can meld to create more
than one plus one equals two. By using design thinking techniques and co-design
techniques, we can analyze the customers’ business problem and shape solutions that
manufacture really, really big outcomes for our customers.
For 15 years I have been a consultant inside of HP and HPE and we have always had
that strong consulting engine. But now with HPE Pointnext Services we are gearing it
around making sure that we are able to address the customers’ business outcomes,
enabled through technology.
Two minds can meld to create more than
one plus one equals two. … Using co-
design techniques, we can analyze the
customers’ business problem and shape
solutions that manufacture really, really
big outcomes for our customers.
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And the timing is right-on. Never has there been a time when technology has been so
welded into a customer’s underlying value proposition. I have been 25 years in IT. In the
past, we could have gotten away with being a good partner to IT inside of our customer
accounts. We could have gotten away with constantly challenging that price and
performance ratio and renovating that agenda so that it delivers better productivity to the
But as technology makes its way into the underlying business model -- as it becomes the
differentiating business model -- it’s no longer just a productivity question. Now it’s about
how partners work to unlock new digital revenue streams. Well, that needs a new
And so that’s the work that we
have been doing in my team,
the Digital Advisory and
Transformation Practice, to
engage customers in that value-
based discussion. Technology
has made its way into that value
proposition. There has never
been a more open-door policy from our partners and customers who want to engage in
that dialogue. They genuinely want to get the benefit of a large tech company applying
itself to the customers’ underlying business challenges. That’s the partnership that they
want, and there is no excuse for us not to walk through that door very confidently.
Gardner: Craig, specifically at HPE Pointnext Services, what’s the secret sauce that
allows you to take on this large undertaking of digital transformation?
Mapping businesses’ digital ambition
Partridge: The development of this model has led to a series of unique pieces of
intellectual property (IP) we use to help advance the customer ambition. I don’t think
there has ever been a moment in time quite like this with the digital conversation.
Customers recognize that technology is the fundamental weapon to transform and
differentiate themselves in the market. They are reaching out to technology partners to
say, “Come and participate with me using technology to fundamentally change my value
proposition.” So we are being invited in now as a tech company to help organizations
move that value proposition forward in a way that we never were before.
In the past, HPE’s pedigree has been constantly challenging the optimization of assets
and the price-performance, making sure that platform services are delivered in a very
efficient and effective way. But now customers are looking to HPE to uniquely go
underneath the covers of their business model -- not just their operating model, but their
Technology has made its way into that
value proposition. … Our customers
genuinely want to get the benefit of a large
tech company applying itself to the
customers’ underlying business challenges.
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Now, we are not writing the board-level strategy for digital ambition because there is a
great sweet spot for us, rather it’s where customers have a digital North Star, some
digital ambition, but are struggling to realize it. They are struggling to land those
initiatives that are, by definition, technology-enabled. That’s where tech companies like
HPE are at the forefront of driving digital ambition.
So we have this unique IP, this model we developed inside of HPE Pointnext Services,
and the methodology of how to apply it. We can use it as a visualization tool, as a
storytelling tool to be able to better communicate, and onward to further communicate
your businesses’ digital ambitions.
We can use it to map out the initiatives and look at where those overlap and duplications
occur inside organizations. We are truly looking at this from edge to cloud and as-a-
service -- that holistic side of the map helps us unpick the risks, dependencies, and
prerequisites. We can use the map to inspire new ideas and advance a customer’s new
thinking about how technology might be enabled.
We can also deploy the
map with our building
blocks behind each of
the journeys, knowing
what digital capabilities
need to be brought on-
stream and in what
sequence. Then we can de-risk a customer’s path to value. That’s a great moment in
time for us and it’s uniquely ours. Certainly, the model is uniquely ours and the way we
apply it is uniquely ours.
But it’s also a timing thing, Dana. There has never been a better time in the industry
where customers are seeking advice from a technology giant like HPE. So it’s a mixture
of having the right IP, having the right opportunity, and the right moment as well.
Gardner: So how should such organizations approach this? We talked about the
methodology but initiating something like this map and digital ambition narrative can be
daunting. How do we start the process?
How to dive in and pose the right questions
Partridge: It begins by understanding a description of this complex landscape, as we
have explored in this discussion. Begin to visualize your own digital ambition. See if you
can take two or three top initiatives that you are driving and explore them across the
map. So what’s the overriding KPI? Where does it start?
Then ask yourself the questions in the middle of the map. What are the key enablers?
Am I addressing a shared intelligence backbone? How am I handling trust, security, and
resiliency? What am I doing to look at the operating model and the people? How is the
We [HPE Pointnext Services] can also deploy the
map with our building blocks behind each of the
journeys, knowing what digital capabilities need to
be brought on-stream and in what sequence.
Then we can de-risk a customer’s path to value.
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culture central to all of this? How am I going to provide it as-a-service? Am I going to
consume component parts of the service? How to stress over into the supply chain?
How is it addressing the experience?
HPE Pointnext Services’ map is a beautiful tool to help any customer today start to plot
their own initiatives and say, “Well, am I thinking of this initiative in a fully 360° way.”
If you are stuck, come and ask HPE. A lot of my advisors around the world map their
customers initiatives over to this framework. And we start to ask questions. We start to
unveil some of the risks and dependencies and prerequisites. As you put in more and
more initiatives and programs, you can begin to see duplication in the middle of the
model play out. That enables customers to de-risk and be quicker to path of value
because they can deduplicate what they can now see as a common shared digital
backbone. Often customers are running those in isolation but seeing it through this lens
helps them deduplicate that effort. That’s a quicker path to value.
We do a lot around ideation and design thinking. If customers have yet to figure out a
digital initiative, what’s their North Star, where should they start? We engage customers
around one- to two-day ideation workshops. Those are very structured ways of having
creative, outside-of-the-box-type thinking and putting in enough of a value proposition
behind the idea to excite people.
We had a customer in Italy come to us and say, “Well, we think we need to do
something with AI, but we are not quite sure where the value is.”
Then we have a way of engaging to help you accelerate, and that’s really about
identifying what the critical digital capabilities are. Think of it at the functional level first.
What digital functions do I need to be able to achieve some level of outcome? And then
get that into some kind of backlog so you know how to sequence it. And again, we work
with customers to help do that as well.
There are lots of ways to slice
this, but, ultimately, dive in, get
an initiative on the map, and
begin to look at the risks and
dependencies as you map it
through the framework. Are you
asking the right questions? Is there a connection to another part of the map that you
haven’t examined yet that you should be examining? Is there a part of the initiative that
you have missed? That is the immediate get-go start point.
Gardner: I’m afraid we will have to leave it there. We have been examining how to
better architect businesses for not only managing ongoing disruption, but to get to a new
and better way of doing business.
And we have learned how HPE Pointnext Services advises organizations on using digital
transformation to take advantage of new and emerging market opportunities.
There are lots of ways to slice this, but
ultimately, dive in, get an initiative on the map,
and begin to look at risks and dependencies
as you map it through the framework.
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So please join me in thanking our guest, Craig Partridge, Senior Director Worldwide,
Digital Advisory and Transformation Practice Lead at HPE Pointnext Services. Thank
you so much, Craig.
Partridge: Thanks, Dana. It was great fun speaking to you again.
Gardner: And thanks as well to our audience for joining this sponsored BriefingsDirect
Voice of Innovation Discussion. I’m Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor
Solutions, your host for this ongoing series of HPE-supported discussions.
Thanks again for listening. Please pass this along to your IT community and do come
back next time.
Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Download the transcript. Sponsor: Hewlett
A discussion on how HPE Pointnext Services advises organizations on using digital
transformation to take advantage of new and emerging opportunities. Copyright Interarbor
Solutions, LLC, 2005-2020. All rights reserved.
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