Transformations: Reboots In Disguise.

by Mark Ellwood

Optimus Prime

2020 was an eventful year for most businesses. Faced with the impact of the Covid19 pandemic, many companies went through major transformations. In some cases, this was due to expansion – for example with some vaccine developers, PPE manufactures and online delivery and logistics businesses. On the other hands, some firms that were adversely impacted looked to downsize, or reorganise their businesses for greater efficiency. All of this meant a virtually mobile workforce, structural changes, and business function transformation – such as setting up Shared Services Centres or embracing different technologies. Many of these programmes continue into 2021.


Many people fear change, but the experience and understanding that comes hand in hand with transformation can prove invaluable to a career once you have it on your CV, because transformation does not just change a business, it also changes your understanding of business. And in the current climate, we are seeing an increased demand for transformation experience.


So, today we unpick transformation and look at how it can boost your profile and broaden your experience.


Types of transformation:



Firms can expand in several ways – by scaling-up manufacturing facilities, by expanding work with clients across territories or perhaps expanding into new markets themselves. Any kind of expansion usually means taking on staff and adding complexity to the business.



This is essentially the opposite to expansion. The firm may need to close offices and reduce headcount. Usually combined with some kind of cost saving and efficiency initiatives, offices or job functions may be relocated or closed down. It’s also possible that services are reduced to a core business offering.



Companies adopting eCommerce usually have to go through a major transformation.  They may be setting up their own platforms, or they may start selling on third party platforms (such as Shopee or Lazada). In either case, the firm will have to rethink how it stocks and distributes products and what kind of customer services and technology specialists it needs to employ. Usually there will be an attempt to shift staff into new roles, employ new specialists and in some cases, make roles redundant.


New technology systems

A good example of this is a company changing databases – maybe from Oracle to SAP. In these cases, there will be an attempt to remove one system and implement the other with the minimum of fuss or disruption to the core business. But of course, it also comes with the need to train the staff on the new database and adopt best practices that suit that organisation. While technology is available off the shelf, companies usually have some bespoke elements created for them and their own ways of best using the systems.



When we think of automation, we tend to think of robots on the assembly line, but the most common form of automation today involves AI. Artificial Intelligence can replace humans and make better informed decisions simply because computers can assess vast amounts of data, perform searches and make better predictions in a matter of seconds. An everyday example of automation is the helpdesk. Traditionally, customers would have to call up or email a human helpdesk assistant or first line support. Now most customer enquiries are initially handled by human sounding software.


In most cases, an actual transformation programme will involve a combination of some, or all of the above – depending on territory and the overall business plan. Regional, country-wide or global transformations are all common, and you can imagine that, for example, moving to eCommerce might involve adopting new technology, automation and changes in the overall business structure.



Where do you fit in the transformation?


Regardless of where you work in the business, it will be part of your responsibility to help implement the transformation. Your role in this could be integral – such as a transformation project manager or software designer. Or it could be more passive – such as an end user. But usually, you will have some kind of an active role within your team related to the transformation – such as moving data and processes to a new platform and making sure it runs smoothly.


Being part of the project team is an exciting opportunity as it allows you to go through the process of analysing systems and processes, designing the implementation and then seeing the results of your efforts. During the process, you will gain a better understanding and experience of the business and how it (now) operates, why these changes may have been introduced, as well as the relative value of different parts of the company and how essential they are to that particular firm.


Rebooting the CV


Going through a transformation adds significant weight to your CV because it shows that you’ve been through change – you understand that changes comes along and you’ve been prepared to deal with it. If you were a major player in the transformation, it means that the firm, or any new firm that you move to, can look to you for some advice and guidance for their next transformation when it inevitably comes. Afterall, all companies must change to survive – the famous ‘adapt or die’ adage.


Having exposure to different ways of doing the same job, different business models and different types of software and processes expands your skillset and allows you to apply for more jobs that you could previously.


Even if you had to make your own role redundant, the chances are that you had to go through a process of offloading your task to a new team and making sure they were up to speed with requirements and that it ran smoothly.


Indeed, many psychometric assessments used in the hiring process contain a component that assesses your ability to handle change and perform through uncertainly. Therefore, any transformation experience you have had should feature prominently on a CV. From ‘helping the tem transition to a new database’ to ‘managing the Shared Service Centre relocation”- all of this counts towards your business change resilience and transformation experience.


Maybe it’s time to take another look at your CV and make sure the change and transformation that you’ve experienced has been fully explored there. Many people may have more business change experience that they actually realise.