2000 & the ensuing decade: digital transformation 1.o

Going Hybrid with Deepak Subbarao: The 00's

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Seth Adler

At the onset of the dotcom bubble, global corporate enterprise was in the midst of globalizing with a centralized management philosophy. Faced with digital disruption, there was an effort to localize operations which led to the green shoots of a hybrid approach.

Culture shift

The advent of dotcom companies changed enterprise thinking in the 2000s. We all remember Pets.com, but really the better example is Amazon.com. It was a time when we started to question whether the structure of the current world would exist against a backdrop of the takeoff of startups.

Scaling & Learning

It made centralized enterprises have to think differently about their structure. They needed to connect the dots between their current construct to compete with a new paradigm. Global corporate enterprise had to rethink their collective reality for the first time in a completely different way. So the larger question became, 'how do we get a merge of these different technologies that are coming up, and would it make sense to be really global and centralized?'

Executives started looking at solutions which will met the local needs while asking, 'is that a cap for freedom of choice that we need to allow at every level?' And that question was for both the organization and the geography.

Disruption & Change Management

It's interesting because the business itself had already been disrupted. Before what happened in early 2000, in the ‘90s the companies had set up a lot of different globalization initiatives. We went ahead with transformations at that time, saying let's keep it global and have managed a centralized enterprise. So, what happened down the line after 10 years is that we had a lot of these initiatives running.

Essentially there were multiple independent initiatives as we pushed forward. But because of that, we got into a situation of very silo-based thinking, in which the efficiency gains seemed to be lost. The tangible benefits to the customer created a different set of expectations, but they were being lost because of an internal focus on transformation.


So, in essence we created mini companies which all wanted to be global and present everywhere and centralized. But somehow the customers were lost in this whole process. And so organizations were forced to take a step back. In the process of being agile, we started rolling up a lot of local initiatives. But at the same time, the organization structure was not changed. 

We were embarking on a transformation or a digital journey, but with conflicting initiatives. One trying to generalize and one trying to localize. This also led to an approach of considering that maybe there would be a case for a hybrid approach. Maybe these two could be combined. But at that time, we didn't get that far. This was a period where we struggled to define the set of operating mechanisms required to be really agile. It was the start of the process, but we had not gone far enough in terms of having this approach being very defined at the ground level.