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AWS Needs More Partners Focused On Change Management: Doug Yeum

‘When you look at the change that’s introduced as part of AWS to the workforce, it requires a deliberate and mindful approach to change management, to changing workforces and…meeting people where they are and helping them adopt to the new way of working,’ said Christina Burns, director of organizational effectiveness at Slalom.

Amazon Web Services’ biggest need for partners is in workforce change management to help customers fully reap the benefits of cloud computing, according to outgoing channel chief Doug Yeum.

“[AWS CEO Adam Selipsky] is very quick to point out that customers don’t just want AWS or partners to come and help them deploy technology,” Yeum told CRN in an interview before the company disclosed that he’s starting a new job in the retail division of parent company Amazon.com on Dec. 6. “Customers want AWS and partners to come in and help transform their businesses and drive business outcomes.”

Driving those business outcomes requires the right use of the technology and many other organizational changes. That’s where workforce change management comes in. Customers need partners to help them reskill their employees to better leverage the cloud technology to do their jobs well. They also need partners to help them with changing their business processes to reflect how the new technology is changing the way things are getting done.

“We need our partners to help us with change management,” Yeum said. “I’ve seen [Selipsky] talk about this on a number of occasions when we engage our partners, asking them about how are you thinking about change management and are you including change management as part of the overall project that you’re doing with the customer. He knows that that’s a critical element of getting the digital transformation right.”

That’s why AWS works so closely with AWS Partner Network companies such as Accenture, Deloitte, Seattle-based Slalom and Japan’s NEC, Yeum said.

“They intimately know the industry, know the customer and know the business processes of those customers, know the people who work inside those customers,” he said. “They also have the skills necessary to drive that transformation of the changes that (are) required around workforce, around business process.”

Slalom Supporting Workforces

Seattle-based Slalom helps customers understand how moving to the cloud is “more than just a technology play,” according to Christina Burns, director of organizational effectiveness for the AWS Premier Consulting Partner, which focuses on strategy, technology and business transformation. It’s an awareness that more customers have been coming to grips with during the coronavirus pandemic, she said.

“Adopting the cloud is something that requires workforce change,” Burns said. “It requires changes in roles, changes in operating model or constructs. Initially a lot of the customers thought of it as just a lift-and-shift cloud opportunity, and now they’re realizing that...they need to support their workforce more.”

Slalom has had an organizational effectiveness and change management practice for the last eight years.

“It’s a good part of our business advisory services,” Burns said. “It’s definitely growing...and our customers are seeing that it’s essential to be successful in their cloud adoption and integration journeys. It’s a benefit for us because we then can be that full-service firm for our customers, something that Slalom prides itself on. It definitely increases our revenue and our footprint, but it also takes advantage of those business offerings that we already have.”

Workforce change management should be a given for partners, according to Burns.

“When you look at the change that’s introduced as part of AWS to the workforce, it requires a deliberate and mindful approach to change management, to changing workforces and…meeting people where they are and helping them adopt to the new way of working,” she said. “We have a human-centered design approach to change management, so we do start with the person in mind. We start with that end user and think how are we going to enable them, empower them and help them with this transition. If you don’t, then you see the results in resignations and attrition. You see tangible results that happen when you don’t support your people.”

Accenture’s Change Management Work

Accenture, which has worked with AWS for more than a decade, two years ago recognized that the AWS business case also must measure how enterprises use cloud technology and data to create value, not just reduce costs, according to Andy Tay, global lead for the AWS Business Group at Accenture, an AWS Premier Consulting Partner and global systems integrator. That shift requires AWS clients to change the way their people work, collaborate, innovate and service their customers, he said. To drive that change with customers, Accenture worked with the AWS Professional Services People and Change practice and AWS Training and Certification team to design a joint solution called AWS Change Acceleration, powered by Accenture.

“Designed for both technology and business workers, our solution focuses on building the cloud operating model, talent, skills and new ways of working into an existing organization,” Tay said. “Accenture and AWS are customer-obsessed and data-led, so we’ve developed unique tools to help us assess, benchmark and prioritize any organization’s needs around workforce alignment, ability and adoption -- our ‘3-A’ model. We use Accenture research to focus on the specific actions for furthest and fastest impact and value.”

When Accenture CEO Julie Sweet meets with C-suite executives at AWS customers, talent and change are two of the biggest topics on the agenda, according to Tay. Accenture Research this year conducted a study of 1,100 cloud leaders to understand the impact of people on the cloud business case.

“We found that those leaders who transformed their people as well as their technology reported 60 percent higher ROI (return on investment) on their cloud investments than those leaders who focused on cloud technology only,” Tay said. “We expected to find that investing in the cloud workforce would result in direct workforce benefits like employee experience, engagement, competency and retention, and that was absolutely true, but the benefits cascaded from there.”

Those leaders who invested in their cloud workforces achieved greater benefits across every value driver surveyed, ranging from better productivity to faster migrations, more cost savings, increased innovation and stronger business agility, according to Tay.

“Our research showed that the cost of developing the cloud workforce -- the talent, culture, leadership and operating model to take advantage of AWS technology – is like an insurance policy to mitigate the risk of not delivering on your cloud investments. Moreover, the spark created by a motivated, engaged, excited workforce is the ignition for innovation.”

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