Nelly Akoth (Kyndryl): “Our culture transformation journey underpins our business transformation”

A recent spinoff of IBM, Kyndryl is the world’s largest IT infrastructure-services provider, employing some 90,000 staff across the globe. The company’s chief transformation officer, Nelly Akoth, tells Leaders League about the changes taking place at the fledgling company.

Posted lundi, août 28 2023
Nelly Akoth (Kyndryl): “Our culture transformation journey underpins our business transformation”

Leaders League: Why was it necessary to reimagine Kyndryl as a service-focused company?
Nelly Akoth:
Now that Kyndryl is an independent company, there are exciting opportunities for our business, including our customers’ need for digital transformation services and managing and modernizing mission-critical information systems. Re-imagining Kyndryl and transforming it into a service-focused company is about creating value for our customers and fueling the growth of our company.

Kyndryl is making crucial changes, helping enable it to move faster in the marketplace. We’ve reshaped our business through the creation of global practices – in hot areas like cloud, cybersecurity, Edge and AI – and our alliances to bring the best of modernization to customers.

We are focused on putting the skills and professional development of our people at the heart of our business. Our alliances also provide Kyndryl staff, or “Kyndryls”, with access to training and a focus on expanding skills with market-leading technologies. Kyndryls leverage their deep engineering expertise and extensive experience operating complex and heterogeneous technology environments to drive service quality, intellectual property development and our long-term trusted customer relationships.

We’re continuing to make significant progress addressing low (or no) margin accounts, and that progress has led to a total impact of $210 million in annualized benefits, exceeding our target of $200 million. Kyndryl is rapidly expanding capabilities and our IP portfolio – in areas from Kyndryl Consult to Kyndryl Bridge and Kyndryl Vital, to continue to propel Kyndryl’s long-term success.

How crucial were digital aspects to the success of this transformation?
Kyndryl’s digital transformation is critical to our business transformation. When we spun off from our legacy company, we inherited more than 1,800 applications to run our business, and we’re now nearly down to about 300 applications -- a leaner and more focused model. We’re on a two-year journey to transition to our own Kyndryl systems and leave the legacy processes and systems behind.

To do this, we’re rapidly simplifying many of our processes and the underlying systems and data supporting them. As part of our digital transformation, we are focused on becoming a data-centric organization. One of the hardest parts of modernizing for a digital-first economy is integrating your legacy systems.

One of the hardest parts of modernizing for a digital-first economy is integrating your legacy systems

Additionally, we are renovating our human capital technology and processes – creating market-based, globally consistent, transparent programs so that all Kyndryls have opportunities to build skills and be successful. This overhaul of processes and systems will provide even better skills development and deployment in service of our customers. To support this renovation, in 2023, we are transitioning from more than 250 disparate technologies to one modern human capital system.

During a corporate transformation, how best to ensure the company culture is not negatively impacted?
It’s essential that you define the culture you want to intentionally create and then harness your culture as the foundation for your transformation. At Kyndryl, our culture transformation journey underpins our business transformation.

As a new company, we knew that culture would be paramount to enabling a thriving services business that attracts, retains, develops and motivates leading talent. As we launched Kyndryl, we set out to define a culture that encompassed our desire to give employees, customers, investors, and partners mutual benefit and success.

This effort included a multi-day culture exchange open to our approximately 90,000 Kyndryls around the world, which culminated in the formulation of The Kyndryl Way – a set of six key principles that define our services-based culture:  We want to be restless, empathetic and devoted in the way we engage with one another, our customers, partners and communities; and we want to organize ourselves to be flat, fast and focused to better serve our customers as a true services organization.

The Kyndryl Way is about how Kyndryls work together and deliver value. It is the fuel of our business growth. Culture change is a deliberate process and a unique opportunity we have as a young company. We have made significant progress in our cultural transformation journey through investing in new behavior, systems and symbols to advance The Kyndryl Way in every part of our business.