Ingram Micro's Chief Digital Officer Sanjib Sahoo said his company is approaching its transformation through a lens of DigiOps, which should prioritize business value and then looks to technologies to enable it.

Speaking at Constellation Research's Connected Enterprise 2023, Sahoo talked to Constellation Research CEO Ray Wang about transformation, leadership and how Ingram Micro has gone digital.

Sahoo said Ingram Micro's focus has been on DigiOps, which "balances the art of the possible with the art of the feasible." Like DevOps, DigiOps looks to develop technology and then operationalize it. The twist is that DigiOps is business to technology instead of technology to business.

"Every single release or sprint we do has to create value for customers," said Sahoo. "Getting to DigiOps is about culture and developing real P&L responsibility. How much operating income am I generating? Am I growing margins? Is revenue growing?"

He added:

"Technology is always focused on what's possible. Operational folks say 'that's OK, but here's how to do it.' Otherwise, you build the best technology with no adoption."

Sahoo said that DigiOps has a heavy component of culture and leadership because it revolves around bringing together business and technology as well as change. It requires a mix of compassion and prodding to get results. "The future is humans, machines and spirit. You must want to learn new things," said Sahoo.

What Ingram Micro is trying with DigiOps represents a broader pivot to focus transformation and IT on real business value. The future metrics are going to look a lot more old school. Think less about release cycle times and total cost of ownership and more about operating income, margins and revenue growth.

"Technology doesn't matter. You have to iterate and focus on value," said Sahoo. 

Other takeaways:

Invest in your data infrastructure. Ingram Micro is investing in data infrastructure to create a data mesh and a foundation to build customer experiences.

Business transformation is about evangelizing a story and telling narratives to get employee engagement. "We have to evangelize a story and why we need a change mindset," said Sahoo. "We took an approach to get employees excited. The experience comes first and automation and technology follow. If the story is about automation first, you'll fail."

Mindset matters. Employee roles will change, and the kind of jobs will change due to generative AI.

Leadership lessons. Sahoo said some of the leadership lessons he has picked up include:

  • "Communicate with compassion and execute with passion."
  • You need balance between a bias for action and a bias for results.
  • Leaders need to develop new skillsets including RQ (relationship quotient), CQ (compassion quotient) as well as the emotional quotient.