Boston Consulting Group director on ‘liberating data’ and scenario planning

13 Nov 2020

Matthew Leybold. Image: Boston Consulting Group

How can businesses act now to harness the long-term opportunities created by Covid? Matthew Leybold of Boston Consulting Group discusses.

Matthew Leybold is an associate director at Boston Consulting Group. He’s the cloud architecture lead for Platinion, the company’s IT implementation and risk-management department, and is based in New York.

Here, he discusses developments in digital transformation and explains why businesses should consider the long-term opportunities linked to Covid-19 when responding to the short-term challenges it presents.

‘Many of the steps that are being taken out of necessity now will create new opportunities and lasting efficiencies’

Describe your role and your responsibilities in driving tech strategy.

My role lies within the core technology and digital practice of Boston Consulting Group, which largely serves to drive deep insights for business-led technology strategy and CIO advisory. As a team, we lead enablement initiatives to accelerate the design and build of digital products and services, as well as architecture for digital and data platforms to enable end-to-end transformations.

My personal role and responsibilities include leading the cloud and IT infrastructure offering within our practice to support these go-to-market offerings, primarily working with clients in US public sector agencies and financial institutions.

Are you spearheading any major product or IT initiatives you can tell us about?

We’ve been focused on creating solutions for three key areas: digital and tech strategy and transformation, data and digital-platform architecture and engineering, and cloud strategy and adoption.

There are some exciting developments in this area. Many Fortune 500 organisations and large government agencies are either in-flight or have recently kicked off programmes to do any one of three main things. First, they embark on the journey to go digital and cloud-native with both the customer-facing products and services, as well as the core for mission-critical functions.

Secondly, they build out the data and digital platform that liberates the data of an organisation, unlocking value sooner for critical priorities and accelerating through the typical challenges of a multi-year core-modernisation effort.

Finally, they engage with early experimentations and exciting wins with AIOps, which is an innovative, cutting-edge approach to utilising big data, advanced analytics and machine learning to enhance and automate IT operations and monitoring.

How big is your team at Boston Consulting?

We have a pretty expansive team, with over 600 global digital and technology practitioners spanning all aspects of the technology lifecycle. This includes product designers, architects, engineers, cybersecurity experts, enterprise applications specialists and more.

However, our day-to-day team size varies on a project basis. We engage different team members depending on the specific format, scope and scale of an initiative. A CIO-advisory project will look totally different than, for example, an IT architecture overhaul or development of a full-stack digital product.

What are your thoughts on digital transformation and how are you addressing it?

Covid-19 has shaken up nearly every aspect of business operations, driving innovation and pushing organisations towards digital transformation. Technology plays a major role in keeping things running during a crisis. However, it’s also a great accelerator; many of the steps that are being taken out of necessity now, from adopting more digital processes to streamlining IT infrastructures, will create new opportunities and lasting efficiencies.

So, you need to think about this along two tracks: prioritising a rapid response to the disruption and change that you face right now, and fast-tracking initiatives that will help sustain business continuity.

Organisations should also be mindful to build scalable and adaptable data and digital platforms, focused on three key pillars; incrementally and pragmatically accelerate data use cases that drive business outcomes, build a robust data layer and modernise your architecture with targeted investments. The idea is to identify how to use data to meet critical near-term needs and then to implement those use cases while building toward your modern technology North Star. That way, instead of waiting for the grand unveiling, you begin seeing the benefits and creating key capabilities early on.

Alternatively, some things need to halt. By drawing up a map of current roles, skills and activities, you can zero in on activities to eliminate. This will enable your workforce to focus on value-generating tasks, generating real efficiencies. Although talent plans typically look three to five years down the road, you’ll want to develop a series of six to eight-month workforce scenarios. Scenario planning can give you a set of options that aligns more closely with evolving situations, constraints and requirements.

What big tech trends do you believe are changing the world and your industry specifically?

There are a number of trends at the forefront of CIO agendas in both the private and public sectors. Topping the list is to address digital acceleration and increased demand as a result of Covid-triggered events. For example, CIOs have increasingly prioritised the acceleration of digital and tech innovation portfolios for initiatives that drive effective remote working and other digital-native programmes. Many are also looking for ways to adopt multi-cloud and cloud-native engineering.

Similarly, implementing a data and digital platform is crucial. This unified architecture combines applications, technologies and data to permit rapid, at-scale implementation of business use cases. Crucially, the data and digital platform decouples or ‘liberates’ data from the underlying applications, creating a separate content layer that facilitates data sharing and usage and makes it easier to develop digital services as needed. AIOps, utilising big data, advanced analytics and machine learning to enhance and automate IT operations and monitoring, is also a key pillar at the moment.

The takeaway here is that these trends are not inherently technology-led, but rather business-led. Business leaders and digital-forward companies and agencies aren’t seeking ‘tech for the sake of tech’, but rather are driving technology decisions informed by how those transformation levers positively impact cost transparency, optimisation and reduction, risk reduction, and business enablement and innovation.

In terms of security, what are your thoughts on how we can better protect data?

Many of our clients are looking to shift from a ‘digital fortress’ and perimeter-based security to next-gen security models, such as zero trust and DevSecOps. The migration to cloud-based networks, increase in mobile and edge computing and demand signal for faster speed-to-market and realised value are forcing these modern trends.

Successful adoption of zero trust and DevSecOps allows for end-to-end security of a multi-environment ecosystem that expands outside the traditional data centre and automates the accreditation, audit and delivery pipeline for getting new capabilities to customers, business partners and operators.

Want stories like this and more direct to your inbox? Sign up for Tech Trends, Silicon Republic’s weekly digest of need-to-know tech news.