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Digital transformation roadmap: People before platform

Every organization needs a digital transformation roadmap. For IT executive Neil Gomes, his plan starts with people and ends with the platform. At the Gartner Symposium in Orlando, Fla., SearchCIO asked Gomes, who is the vice president for technology innovation and consumer experience at Thomas Jefferson University, where IT execs should begin when planning their organizations' digital transformation roadmap. In this video, Gomes lays out four key areas that he focused on during his organization's transformation journey.  

Neil Gomes: Digital transformation should be enabled by IT and IT groups but really shouldn't be centered in that space. I think [Thomas Jefferson University] has a good track record for health systems in the last two and half years. We've transformed the organization. We've got students, patients, staff, doctors and researchers working with us and trying to innovate in the digital space, as well as achieving a lot of success in that space.    

How we've done it is, first, focus on people. It's always a very important factor. We want to get the right people in and we want them to want to stay, so we create an environment that is conducive to that. Fortunately, the kind of work we do is very meaningful. We are an education and research and health enterprise, so we help people live better lives, save lives, and then educate people so that they can help other people live better lives and save lives. It's an easy thing to convince people to work with us because there's an altruistic motive there too.  Apart from that, it's also about building the right type of environment. We attract people from companies -- Silicon Valley-types of companies -- that could certainly leave and do really well for themselves if they wanted to, but we managed to hold on to them. That's the first step. Get the right people, the who before the what.    

Get the right people, the who before the what.

Then, of course, you have to expose yourself to as much as is out there. [You must do it] in a way that doesn't diffuse you too much and enables you to learn from not just healthcare and education institutions, in our case, but also from everyone else. This is why I and a lot of my team members come to conferences and community events where people share stories. I think that's very important.  

The third part is picking the right partners. I pick vendors almost like I pick employees. It's like a recruitment process for us. [With employee hiring,] we take a long time to pick the right person because we want to be sure that they'll be able to fit into the culture, that they would be able to contribute to it, that they really care about being where we are and that they're self-motivated to be the best at what they do. It's the same with a vendor; it's not just a transactional system. We don't want that. We want the vendor to have as much skin in the game as we do, and be as invested in our success as we are. I think that is the third piece that you absolutely need in there.

Then, finally, it comes down to what you have developed as a platform. I think those are the key areas in how we enable digital transformation.

For more on crafting a digital transformation roadmap, first read why you need one, then learn about Rosetta Stone's digital journey and how the Patriots are tapping digital technology to create a better customer experience.

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