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Break Down Silos to Get Everybody Behind Digital Transformation

Unity of purpose and new ways of thinking are elusive, but it all starts by getting different teams in a room together.

Break Down Silos to Get Everybody Behind Digital Transformation

The paradox of modern business is digital transformation: Leaders want the rewards of real-time relationships with their customers by making a bold shift, but most are wary of actual change.


In any digital transformation, people are going to work differently. Teams will have more data, but they’ll have to collaborate across longstanding silos to use that data, and continually pivot with the agility of a 21st-century business.

This degree of collaboration typically represents a radical departure from day-to-day operations, where employees work almost exclusively with their own teams. For executives, the idea of shaking up this established order is risky. Will people understand and be open to different points of view? Will productivity will be lost in the process?

“Digital transformations mean radical change for everybody in the company,” says David Clarke, global chief experience officer at PwC. “When we talk to companies about what the future of their business could look like, half the people think it’s exciting, and half think their job is going away.”

Counseling many companies through digital transformations has shown PwC that setting the stakes early and bringing together diverse perspectives from across companies helps to break down silos in a creative—rather than destructive—way.

Most often, Clarke gets brought in by executives. “These are really brilliant people who understand the ins and outs of their business and industry,” he explains. “Next, we’d talk to technology people who are super deep in the enterprise side. And then we’d talk to marketing, great experience-side people. It was the full picture. But we needed to put those people and those three perspectives together in a room and say, ‘Here’s the challenge.’ That’s the secret to transforming a company—taking a much more holistic view of the challenge and executing on it.”

PwC calls this new approach BXT, an acronym for the intersection of business, experience, and technology. It not only helps companies embarking on digital transformation set a vision for winning in a changing marketplace, but also helps the real people involved see beyond their fears and believe in their future.


“A large company came to us and said, ‘Hey, can you work on some policies and procedures with us around our 50-or-so different branches?’ ” says John Swadener, practice lead of the PwC Experience Center. “We told them what they really needed was a larger overhaul and described how we’d like to do that. The president of the company said — and I’m not paraphrasing — ‘I’m scared. I’m scared that I can’t pull off what you’re saying.’ Which is totally understandable. That can be a life-or-death moment for a business.”

At such moments, PwC guides clients through the daunting task by bringing people from different silos together for creative ideation and strategic planning.

[Photo: PwC]
“I said ‘Let me get my business people, my tax people, my technology people, and my experience people together,'” says Swadener. “We’ll get all 50 of your branch leads together into our Experience Center. And we’ll co-create this solution of a future for you.’ And that’s what we did.”

The PwC Experience Center combines traditional consulting and agency approaches to form a unified approach to problem solving. According to Clarke, this hybrid method is uniquely suited to tackle large problems.

“When we look at how businesses sometimes bring in different types of vendors, they often say, ‘We’re going to bring in five different companies and one’s going to do strategy, one’s going to do ideation, one’s going to do execution, and so on,'” says Clarke. “They want to make five different companies work perfectly together, but those five companies operate differently. They want different pieces of the pie. I truly believe that the intersection is best achieved when you have the right people at the right time that are operating under the same purpose to deliver.”

BXT gets people from fear to creativity, says Swadener. “It makes everybody think, ‘You know what? I’m not going to rely on that old muscle memory. I’m going to get better and faster results if I bring everybody together from the beginning.”


The end result is a different kind of organization, one that is invested and owns its transformation. “We’re creating companies of anticipation and prediction,” says Clarke. “When you work with the right people from every area of the business, that’s where BXT really becomes something of significance—a game changer.”

This article was created for and commissioned by PwC Digital Services.


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