The CIO Reading List: Technology-as-a-Service Playbook

This time I’m recommending a super-practical manual for profitable transformation.

The Technology-as-a-Service Playbook is a snapshot of disruption and provides tactics and strategies for succeeding with the “anything as a service” business model. Thomas Lah and J.B. Wood have perfectly captured the sense of upheaval among technology companies as subscription-based models become our norm and provide insightful ideas on innovative approaches to thriving in this new environment.

As a CIO, you’re very familiar with the complexities of shifting to an XaaS model. Every part of the organization will be impacted by this transformation. Fortunately, Lah and Wood do a great job of quantifying and exploring the scope of this kind of transformation. There’s practical guidance on creating new operational models, new value propositions, new pricing structures, new customer engagement strategies, and more.

In a “transformation,” many companies try to keep legacy thinking, practices, and tools—with disastrous results. That’s why these recommendations were some of my favorites:

1. Initiate hard conversations

Changing the way you sell represents a fundamental shift in strategy. And it may still look like the current operational model is working fine. You need to prepare senior stakeholders with a “why” story, before getting lost in the tactical weeds of “what,” “how,” and “when.”

2. Change organizational structure to match strategy

One of the biggest mistakes a company can make is changing its strategy but keeping its org structure. New organizational capabilities are required to be successful with XaaS offers, and therefore must be identified and added. More importantly, you have to fix the old stress points that created a less-than-seamless customer experience across the product lifecycle.

3. Get ready to get moving, and then go

Transformation should be careful and deliberate, but not without urgency. Customer expectations are evolving quickly, and you need to develop early momentum to avoid getting left behind. Announce transformational initiatives early, set clear objectives, and then get down to it.

Other Posts in the CIO Reading List series:

4. Disrupt from below

AWS didn’t start with a big sales force or global service organization. Amazon built a customer platform, started at the low end of the market, got it to work, and then took it upmarket. And the company went to enormous lengths to engineer out complexity. Customers can get almost everything they need by themselves. The lesson: You either master complexity or become a slave to it.

5. Control the narrative

There’s going to be a painful, slow, and costly multiyear transitional period. Moving to a subscription model requires higher-than-usual investment costs, and usually causes a short-term drop in top-line revenue. Anticipate this, guiding expectations with a firm hand.

Get ready for a great read that you can refer back to again and again. It’s an easy-to-read approach to transformation, and I hope you find it as relevant as I did.