Category Archives: IT Transformation

Dish Network is Thriving Because of Transformation

Today I was working from home and waiting on the repair of a recalled Samsung washer (if you don’t know about the recall the washer can “explode” under heavy load on fast spin cycle, click here). When the repair technician arrived in a Dish Network van and sporting natty Dish Network attire, you can imagine my head was spinning (get it? washer humor!).  Of course, the first thing I did was ask the technician why Dish Network was performing this service.  His answer is the reason for this post.

Home pay network television delivered by traditional cable or satellite is on a downturn with the advent of internet streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and HBO Go.  Dish Network has built a large field services capability that today is under-utilized due to slowdown in their core services.  While many organizations may have scaled back on their services and cut their teams to only what was necessary to service current customers, Dish saw an opportunity to expand their value and brand by instead leveraging what they had spent millions building.

Dish branched into services areas that they had no direct expertise in.  You could say that at the time they had the core ability to perform these services but no specific knowledge of how to complete the tasks.  What they did have was capacity in the form of people, trucks, equipment, and customer service and logistics experience.  And by combining that ability with capacity you get a new capability

Ok, but what does this have to do with IT?  It’s simple, really.  The type of transformation that Dish services are undertaking is in response to market demands and a need to optimize the investments they have made in their core service delivery.  IT can learn a valuable lesson from this by creating new ways for their delivery capabilities to service their constituents.  For example, if you have an IT help desk that is manned 24/7, why wouldn’t you enable that team to perform infrastructure tasks or administration duties during down time?  This can be achieved via development of Knowledge Centric Services (KCS) methodologies and has the added benefit of averaging down the costs of performing those tasks.  Or, maybe, because the help desk has the soft skills necessary to interface with users, they can become a vehicle for advancing user training or community adoption of policies such as security awareness.

Likewise, in the operations teams, if the user community (“market”) is consuming cloud services (“shadow IT”), what really is the lift for IT to regain control of these new compute and service assets?  With today’s service platforms such as Vistara and on-demand, consumption based services for SysOps and DevOps, the old traditional barriers for IT operations, are greatly reduced.  The teams you have invested in can acquire new delivery skills through service brokerage without giving up control or governance.  Sometimes, all it takes is finding the right partner to do that delivery on your behalf.

And that is the story here.  Samsung had a need to fix 3 million washers in the US, therefore they brokered the service to Dish Network because of that company’s capability.  Not because Dish is known as the appliance repair mecca of the free world, but because they had all the tools and resources necessary and could be educated to perform the actual task.  And while a Dish service technician may not have gotten into his career to fix washers, he recognized an opportunity to expand his skills and retain his value to his employer.

You can now have your smartphone screen repaired in your home via a Dish technician, and soon, Dish might be installing your homes solar panels.  By expanding their vision of what it means to be valuable to their customers, and leveraging what they already had invested in, they have expanded their market and created new revenue streams.  IT can do this too, by taking off the traditional operational blinders and re-imagining a future state where all of the business technology requirements can be fulfilled simply and effectively through an expanded services portfolio.

With the advent of next-gen technologies, aaS offerings, and self-healing infrastructures, many in IT operations may feel that their days are numbered, and that their value is slipping.  However, it doesn’t need to be this way.  The future of IT operations is bright, as long as you are willing to expand your horizons and adapt to the “new normal” of information technologies consumption, and just as importantly user expectations.


Click here to learn about how modern IT Help Desk approaches and how cloud platforms and a tech-savvy workforce have fundamentally changed the support game

By Geoff Smith, Director of MS Business Development


CIO Focus Interview, Peter Weis, Matson Navigation

CIO Focus InterviewFor this CIO Focus Interview, I got to speak with Peter Weis. Peter has over 15 years of global CIO experience, and is currently VP and CIO of Matson Navigation, a $1.7B, publicly traded, global transportation and logistics company. At Matson, Peter leads a global IT organization that is responsible for strategy, software development, infrastructure, high-availability operations and all levels of IT governance. Peter is an experienced speaker on leadership, technology, and supply chain topics, and has lectured at both the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley and at San Francisco State University. He holds an M.B.A. with Honors from the Wharton School and a Bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. Furthermore, Peter was a 2014 inductee into the CIO Hall of Fame. You can find Peter on Twitter and also hear more from him on!

Ben: Could you give me some background on your career?

Peter: I did my undergraduate studies at UC Berkeley and followed that up by getting an MBA at the Wharton School. I entered my first management role at age 26 and became a CIO for the first time at 36 at a global 3rd party logistics company. I’ve spent my career at a mix of both start-up and Fortune 500 companies. In late 2003, I was lured out of the start-up world to Matson Navigation. It took me a while to accept the position because I was still happy in the startup world and wasn’t initially convinced that a traditional and successful 125 year-old company was committed to innovation. Ultimately though, I saw it as a unique opportunity to lead a game-changing IT transformation and have now been here for 12 years. I also write and speak at conferences and give guest lectures at UC Berkeley.

Ben: What about a little background on your company?

Peter: Matson is a $2+ billion publicly traded global transportation and logistics company. We were founded in 1882, believe it or not, providing products to Hawaii. Although we’re now far broader in scope and cover much of the Pacific region, Hawaii remains our most important market. Our culture, processes and technology are all built around world-class operations and customer service in what has become an increasingly commoditized industry. As a result, we’ve been ranked as the number one ocean carrier in the world for the past two years, both overall and in information technology.

Ben: What sorts of projects have you been working on?

Peter: We recently finished a complete IT transformation that replaced 100% of our enterprise applications, our underlying architecture and our governance processes. Our legacy mainframe and AS400 systems are gone. We’re now fully virtualized and cloud-enabled and can now run our business in the cloud. By making this shift, we are in a position to reduce our IT managed services costs by over 80%. Most companies of any scale are wrestling with these legacy and obsolescence issues, so it’s gratifying to have completed this transformation. We also recently made a major acquisition that enables Matson to enter the Alaskan market. As a result of completing this IT transformation prior to the acquisition, the integration of this $450M acquisition is now expected to be completed in 5 months.   In a legacy environment, this integration would likely have taken 18 months and cost millions more than it did. This is a big win for Matson.

Ben: What goals do you have for 2015?

Peter: Now that we’ve finished transforming what had been a traditional IT environment, it’s now time to go on offense by leveraging what we already consider to be the best technology stack in our industry.   So, we’re now focusing on further enabling growth, reducing operating costs and responding more quickly to innovation opportunities. In fact, we’ve formed a dedicated innovation team which is led by several of our top performers. Their sole focus is innovation and widening the gap between Matson and our competitors. In order to do that, we need to be faster and more agile. We now think in terms of weeks and months in delivering innovation instead of years.

Ben: Which areas of IT do you think are having the biggest impact on the industry?

Peter: I would say cloud migration and cyber security. With the cloud, there’s a gap between vision and reality, and most companies are constrained by legacy environments that aren’t conducive to cloud technologies. CIO’s are struggling with how to fulfill the promise of better responsiveness at lower costs that cloud solutions offer, but they don’t know how to close this legacy gap. There is no easy solution, but those companies that find their way to the cloud will have real structural advantages over their competitors.

Regarding cyber security, the industry just doesn’t know what to make of the hype versus the reality. Every CIO feels the risks, but most are unsure of the right strategy to pursue, given that solutions today are so young and fragmented. As a result, CIO’s are feeling behind the curve. The problem is real, but the correct vision and necessary skill sets have not yet matured. If you look at the enterprise technology stack, the winners are clear. In cyber security though, the winning solutions are not yet clear. My company isn’t in finance or healthcare, so our risk profile is lower than it is for some. At the same time, in the age of the mobile, digital business, we are all at risk. After a difficult search, we’ve actually just hired a leader to drive our enterprise information security strategy.

Ben: Could you talk about the importance of a strong relationship between the CIO and the business? Has your experience getting degrees in business helped you in this regard?

Peter: Speaking the language of the executive team is very important. Their language isn’t LAN, WAN, or SaaS; it’s largely corporate finance. The traditional IT career path doesn’t teach managers the language of business, which creates a gap that all great IT leaders must close. Yes, my business training has certainly proven to be valuable, as I’ve learned the language of the boardroom. It’s also helped my personal brand as I’ve become more involved in assuming a commercial role at Matson, where I can more directly affect the company’s bottom line.

Ben: On a more personal level, which areas of technology interest you the most?

Peter: I’d say it’s the challenge of transforming the enterprise experience to be more like a consumer experience. I’m talking about customer facing enterprise applications that look and act like consumer apps. The consumer marketplace is teaching us what enterprise users and customers desire, and we need to watch, listen and incorporate these lessons more fully into our business solutions. Nobody gets trained on using an iPhone app, right?   Now, imagine rolling out enterprise software with no training! That’s our goal. The market has told us where to go, and that’s where we’re headed over the next 3 to 5 years.



By Ben Stephenson, Emerging Media Specialist