Kerem Koca of Blue Cloud On How To Use Digital Transformation To Take Your Company To The Next Level
An Interview With Tyler Gallagher
Cultural Transformation — Realigning a company’s core values, mission and vision is critical to building a culture of innovation within an internal organization. Employees are the focus during this process because they’re ultimately the driving force behind a business’s success so it’s important to create a culture in which they can align with and advocate for on a daily basis, especially with customers. This process translates to improved employee retention as well as increased employee satisfaction and productivity. Companies like Salesforce and Southwest have famously cultivated exemplary company culture that have kept them ahead of the competition.
As part of our series about “How To Use Digital Transformation To Take Your Company To The Next Level”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kerem Koca.
Kerem Koca is an industry pioneer in digital transformation and cloud-native data analytics (“Data Cloud”) implementation and consulting services, co-founding Blue.cloud (formerly Bluenet) in 2004. Today Blue.cloud enables enterprises to seamlessly transform to cloud which has become an essential service for start-ups, mid-market companies, and Fortune 500 enterprises alike during the pandemic.
Kerem and Blue.cloud’s vision is at the forefront of the Digital Transformation movement and have experienced tremendous growth since March 2020 including quadrupling their team headcount and increasing revenue by 200 percent. Kerem’s proven track record of building teams that deliver superior and actionable Information Technology solutions positively affects the bottom line profitability of Blue.cloud’s clients.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
When I was studying for my Computer Science degree, I was also working at a bank where we were designing and implementing a customer-facing product for retail. When I thought the product was ready to be deployed, the VP I reported to asked me to first test the product as a customer. As soon as I started using it, it was clear that it wasn’t ready for showtime. This taught me to repeatedly test and assure products before officially launching them to customers. Today, I run Quality Assurance programs with Blue.cloud at Fortune 500 companies and I always remember this moment during these implementations.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
One mentor of mine in particular, Aileen Stewart has been instrumental in guiding me and the entire HSBC team during the implementation of their Financial Transformation Program which is widely recognized as the biggest data consolidation project in the financial services industry. Aileen led the global team throughout this program and without her strategic direction, it’s possible we may not have had the chance to tap into the financial services industry and work with HBSC where she was Senior Director.
In a full circle moment, Aileen recently joined the Blue.cloud team as Strategic Client Engagement Manager (CEM) where her expertise as an Information Technology leader in corporate banking will continue to support the company’s multiple Fortune 500 finance clients.
Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
As someone who is immersed in data trends on a daily basis, I highly recommend giving “Rise of the Data Cloud” By Frank Slootman and Steve Hamm a read. It’s a wealth of information for any startup founder who will inevitably be adopting cloud and data solutions to build and scale their business. The storytelling is great as well as it’s explanation of data progress throughout the years and it includes insights into future trends.
Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. When your company started, what was its vision, what was its purpose?
Bluenet was founded in 2004 with a Data and Analytics focus and has constantly evolved. In 2018, we started to help organizations transform to cloud and began to significantly invest in partnerships with leading cloud providers and build highly skilled teams. When we formed Blue.cloud, our team knew we were at the beginning of what would be a decade-long investment cycle focusing on data and digitalization. At the time, this trend was building momentum but the sheer rate of change will eclipse anything the market has experienced before.
Today, Blue.cloud recognizes the cloud-only nature of our digital transformation company that specializes solely in implementing leading cloud technologies and solutions for our clients. Our mission has evolved to being a global leader in cloud solutions with a focus on innovation, customer service and employee engagement.
Cloud adoption among enterprises is expected to move from 23 percent of workloads in 2021 to 47 percent at the end of 2022, and 80 percent at the end of 2024. In only a matter of months, company leaders have become much more attuned to digital solutions and having a digital presence is now paramount, driving massive technology investment across the economy. Bluenet anticipates that 40 of the current Fortune 500 companies will be fully cloud-enabled — up from only one in 2020 — and will surpass 100 companies by 2022.
Are you working on any new, exciting projects now? How do you think that might help people?
The pandemic’s catalytic effect on widespread digital transformation adoption has kept Blue.cloud extremely busy in 2021. During Covid, cloud services became a critical focus to maintain business flexibility in remote work scenarios and our cloud-only approach hones in on the power of cloud-based solutions within digital transformation.
Optimizing data and cloud infrastructure has become a top priority for startups, mid-market companies, and Fortune 500 enterprises alike during the pandemic which is driving our expansion in many ways. We are observing increased demand from verticals including financial services, insurance and compliance so we are always looking to serve clients in those industries.
We also have a number of exciting partnerships with several leading next-generation software companies like Snowflake, DataRobot, ThoughtSpot, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud which help us consistently deliver top of the line service to our customers and we’re looking forward to expanding those partnerships in 2022 and beyond.
Thank you for all that. Let’s now turn to the main focus of our discussion about Digital Transformation. For the benefit of our readers, can you help explain what exactly Digital Transformation means? On a practical level what does it look like to engage in a Digital Transformation?
Digital Transformation is the integration of digital technologies in all areas of a business to adapt to current market demands. Essentially, it’s future-proofing your business and leveraging technologies for the digital age.
More companies are adopting digital transformation to more efficiently serve customers which can work to transform a company’s process, business model, domain and culture. Most importantly, digital transformation has a huge emphasis on improving customer service and creating a consistent experience that meets evolving customer expectations. When implemented correctly, the result is highly engaged customers and a profitable business.
Which companies can most benefit from a Digital Transformation?
Every organization can benefit from digital transformation, however, legacy enterprises have been historically slow to adopt digital processes. Startups and newly established companies are at a unique advantage because they are at the earlier stages of running a business and are operating from a clean slate.
My biggest advice to all companies and organizations is to start digital transformation earlier than you think. The sooner digital technologies are correctly leveraged and implemented on a consistent basis, the better customer experience you will create and the more prepared you will be to survive unexpected disruptions.
We’d love to hear about your experiences helping others with Digital Transformation. In your experience, how has Digital Transformation helped improve operations, processes and customer experiences? We’d love to hear some stories if possible.
COVID was a wake up call for many businesses and accelerated the rate of digital adoption by years within just a few months. Enterprises were catching on to this need to start or improve their digital transformation journey in order to survive in the digital market.
Blue.cloud has helped a number of Fortune 500 companies streamline their operations and processes through cloud and data digital transformation. Our core services include digital and cloud transformation strategy, digital architecture, digital and cloud roadmap creation, back and front-end data warehousing support, data lake creation, advanced analytics, data science including AI & machine learning (“ML”) and data quality/governance.
When implemented properly, these services dramatically boost business performance including increased revenue, improved customer experience, decreased operating costs, actionable data and more.
Has integrating Digital Transformation been a challenging process for some companies? What are the challenges? How do you help resolve them?
Legacy enterprises that have been operating with antiquated technology for decades often have the most challenging time. These types of late stage transitions tend to require a large amount of support and can be quite costly when making the transition.
For instance, the banking industry is simultaneously one of the industries that can stand to benefit most from digitalization and also among the most reluctant to adopt newer solutions because of factors like legacy IT systems and leadership resistance to alter existing business structures. However, working with an experienced digital transformation company can streamline the process and make some of the more complex transitions less intimidating.
Businesses looking for a quick fix may also find difficulties in the carefully calculated and long term process that is digital transformation. Tangible solutions to fundamental business gaps are not implemented overnight and instead require a complete restructuring across the entire enterprise which can take years for larger organizations.
Building skilled IT teams has also become more challenging in recent years. Technical talent is often scarce within an organization yet it’s essential to a successful digital transformation process. One way Blue.cloud solves this is by supplementing in-house teams with our 250+ senior level billable experts.
Ok. Thank you. Here is the primary question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are “Five Ways a Company Can Use Digital Transformation To Take It To The Next Level”? Please share a story or an example for each.
- Process Transformation — Businesses in need of a major operational upgrade need help reengineering organizational processes and streamlining their workflows. Digital solutions aim to modernize various finite business processes so organizations can function at the top of their game, continue to innovate and remain compliant with evolving policies. It’s crucial to reevaluate and optimize processes on an ongoing basis to accurately assess the efficiency and effectiveness of business operations.
- Business Model Transformation — Restructuring the strategic vision and plan of a business ensures survival in its specific market. Companies can leverage Digital Transformation to reinvent their business models to deliver the highest customer value and drastically improve business performance. Netflix’s pivot from DVD rentals to streaming and, as a result, growing exponentially is a popular example of business model transformation.
- Domain Transformation — Expanding a business into other arenas may seem like an elusive growth strategy, however, organizations have a ripe opportunity to capture and leverage new technologies to make it a reality. Emerging technologies make entering entirely new markets and unlocking new businesses beyond their current market possible and digital transformation can help pave the way. For example, Amazon expanded their offerings beyond physical products to Amazon Web Services — a cloud-based web software and database management for businesses.
- Organizational Transformation — Resetting organization and leadership mindsets is one of the most fundamental elements of an enterprise’s successful digital transformation journey. Adopting agile workflows and implementing collaboration tools creates a company-wide shift from organizational norms to modern applications that drive success. Experian’s massive success transitioning from legacy architecture to the cloud is one of the more notable organizational transformations to date.
- Cultural Transformation — Realigning a company’s core values, mission and vision is critical to building a culture of innovation within an internal organization. Employees are the focus during this process because they’re ultimately the driving force behind a business’s success so it’s important to create a culture in which they can align with and advocate for on a daily basis, especially with customers. This process translates to improved employee retention as well as increased employee satisfaction and productivity. Companies like Salesforce and Southwest have famously cultivated exemplary company culture that have kept them ahead of the competition.
In your opinion, how can companies best create a “culture of innovation” in order to create new competitive advantages?
The entire Digital Transformation process and cultural transformation strategies especially create room for building a culture of innovation. Once processes have been modernized, corporate values have been redefined and leadership mindsets have been reset, the entire company is empowered to bring new ideas and concepts to the table.
Executive leadership can create an environment (whether in-office, hybrid or remote) that supports innovative thinking which leads to further improved products and services that drive business success and customer satisfaction. Supporting and developing company talent, defining goals and open collaboration are among the tactics to foster this culture.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Serena William’s now famous quote, “If you’re happy then you win, and then you win because you’re happy” is something I live by in my life and business. It’s a nice reminder that professional success is not always a constant but finding your own joy in life can be.
How can our readers further follow your work?
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!