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2016 Premier 100: Masters of disruption

Stacy Collett | March 1, 2016
It’s a chaotic world for this year’s honorees, but that’s just how they like it, as they embrace countless ways to spearhead change at their organizations, from shaking up the IT structure to driving technology investment.

The plan is to reduce complexity, increase agility and add flexibility to scale operations up or down based on business conditions.


Francois Estellon

"In some areas, the service-based migration is coming out at the time that we're upgrading technology," says Estellon, who joined Gardner Denver in November 2013. For starters, in less than six months the company moved from a 14-server, local Lotus Notes environment that supported 7,000 email and calendar users (and more than 360 Lotus Notes applications) to a fully cloud-based Microsoft Office 365 environment. More changes are underway.

When it comes to major reorganizations, Estellon says he has "no patience nor appreciation for tenure." The average tenure in his 100-person IT organization was 25 years when he joined the company in 2013. He first evaluated people based on their "skill sets, location, talent and willingness to change," he says. Over a period of two years, about 10 lower-level IT staffers were promoted into higher-level roles, 30 IT employees were let go, and 23 people were hired from the outside.

The restructuring has led to many pleasant surprises. "Some people have said, 'Finally! I've been asking for this for years,'" Estellon says. A number of people are still waiting to see what changes take place, but "they're slowly getting on board," he says.

Estellon says his mantra for reorganization is this: "We will drop the ball and make a mistake. It's not the end of the world." The pace of change is sometimes more critical than the accuracy of the deliverable. He says he wants his IT leaders to look at the big picture. "If you can get me from zero to 85% in six months, I would rather have that than if you get me from zero to 99% in two years."

Building for speed

Some Premier 100 honorees represent emerging companies that are built for speed — and where IT teams are constantly challenged to keep pace with their rapid growth.

Marketing and advertising technology company MediaMath has grown from 12 employees to 800 worldwide since its launch seven years ago, and it expects another 40% to 50% increase in staff in 2016. CIO Tom Craig wanted to ensure that the IT department kept up its development "velocity" as the company grew.


Tom Craig

In the fall of 2014, he restructured the IT organization based on the "tribe" model popularized by Spotify and emulated by many other budding tech companies. The model creates small, autonomous groups that align with product, engineering and operations resources. Each development unit operates like a mini-startup with an engineering lead, a product lead and a tech project manager. Budgets are allocated individually and each group makes its own technology choices — which could involve cloud computing, new deployment tools, automation tools, development frameworks or something else.

 

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