Meet the Agents of Transformation - T-Mobile
Jelle Van Wijk, Product Owner Performance Monitoring, T-Mobile
Jelle Van Wijk is responsible for the development of a center of excellence inside T-Mobile, which includes full stack monitoring across all digital business channels. His team is tasked with exposing any IT impact on business value, with a clear focus on the customer’s digital journey and overall experience.
What is your current role and how much of your work is focused on transformation or innovation-led projects?
In the early days, I spent a lot of time getting the basics of performance monitoring in place and building a solid foundation that we could build upon. We invested in some great technology, and once we started to see value, were able to shift our focus to innovating the way we do things. Today, the majority of our time is spent on transformational projects, working with teams across the T-Mobile business to show them how monitoring the performance of their applications can provide insight into new ways of doing things, or inform improvements that will benefit the customer and drive return for the business.
What has been the most exciting transformation project you’ve worked on and why did it mean so much to you?
At the start of 2018, the business entrusted me to develop a Performance Monitoring Centre of Excellence, and gave me the autonomy to build the team and processes as I saw fit. I am very proud of the results we have delivered in such a short time, and as a result of the hard work of my team, we have now broadened our scope to support the business across all its digital channels.
This year, we plan to integrate even more with the wider business, using dashboards to communicate key data about the performance of T-Mobile’s digital channels, so that everyone can derive insight and value from the work the Center of Excellence delivers.
How important is it to connect what you do to the success of the business?
It’s critical to link the performance of our digital channels to the success of the business. Historically we monitored IT performance, but now we can incorporate both the application performance data with business transaction data, which is incredibly powerful as it connects what my team does with the experience a customer has when interacting with our business. We can make data-driven decisions, and know in advance the implications it will have to both the business and the customer.
Can you think of any major challenges or barriers that you had to overcome in order to become an Agent of Transformation?
It is easy for me to see the value of a big idea, but it’s not just about me, it’s about communicating with and convincing others of the potential of that big idea. I have learnt how important it is to be able to explain in a tangible and meaningful way how new ways of working, or new technology investments, will help the business. I’ve also learnt the importance of listening to their feedback and trying to understand their concerns. This has enabled us to find common ground from which we can move forward. As individuals we can all be successful, but when we work together we can deliver something spectacular.
Have you had a mentor on your journey to becoming an Agent of Transformation? How did he or she help you most?
The manager of consumer digital was a firm supporter from the outset, and immediately saw the value of performance monitoring. I was lucky that the senior management shared my vision of driving quality and reducing incidents, and whilst they gave me the freedom to make this role my own, they also held me accountable for the results, and challenged me along the way.
Importantly, I was allowed to make mistakes – and we definitely made a few along the way! – but to get to the level we’re at now, we were bound to run into some challenges. They were frustrating at the time, but also critical opportunities to learn and improve.
What are the organizational qualities that are essential to enabling and supporting Agents of Transformation?
It’s important that there is a culture of innovation and excellence – where you are encouraged and supported to go and deliver something exceptional. That challenge is extremely motivating and exciting. But of course that comes with the need for leadership to understand that in order to achieve the exceptional, teams require a level of trust to try new things and make mistakes. They also need to invest in the technology stack to enable the team to be truly cutting edge; and to reward people on a job well done.
I remember showing an executive one of our dashboards, and he was so blown away by the level of insight we could provide that he jumped up on his chair! We laugh about it now, but that was a proud moment for the team. Agents of Transformation love a challenge and are passionate about delivering success…but everyone likes to know they did a good job too!
To what extent do you think being an Agent of Transformation is about looking to challenge the norm?
Agents of Transformation – or anyone wanting to progress to that level – should constantly be challenging themselves and those around them to deliver tangible business benefits. Otherwise, you’re just like everyone else.
How important is big picture thinking? How do you turn big ideas into actionable plans?
For me the big picture is the easiest bit – I tend to think at that level most of the time. From there, I break the big idea into smaller steps, and think about how I can collaborate with others. I find that spending time with other teams or departments, and working with them to understand what success could look like for them, really helps bring people together and create support for a new idea or project.
Of course it’s not always easy, so I try to explain how this new idea or way of working can help them achieve their goals and benefit the business at the same time. It can be challenging to win people over when you’re asking them to do something new or different from the norm. My advice is to think about how your work can help other people be more successful – because no one will say no to that!
What should technologists that are aspiring to become Agents of Transformation be looking for in their current role or next role?
Think big, but start small. It might seem frustrating at first, but it’s important to build credibility and trust. As long as every small step delivers value to your organization and maps against your vision, you’ll be heading in the right direction.
And of course, it’s inevitable that things won’t always go exactly to plan, or that some people will need convincing that your idea is as brilliant as you think it is! When you believe in something so passionately, it’s hard to stay motivated and focused when you run up against hurdles. But don’t give up. Go back to your plan, work through it with your team and you will find the right path forwards.
What one piece of advice would you give to anyone wanting to become an Agent of Transformation?
If you want to be an Agent of Transformation, you have to be passionate about the role technology can play in your business, and give 100 percent to everything you do. Celebrate the small wins, and share your successes with those around you. Very soon, people will recognize your contribution and you will find supporters for your ideas.
How has AppDynamics and the application and business performance data enabled you to become a more strategic player in your organization?
The data we derive from AppDynamics provides incredibly detailed insight about the online customer experience. Having access to the application performance insight and being able to correlate its impact on our customers, provides us with a trusted and solid foundation for strategic discussions with our business partners.
Why are Agents of Transformation so critical to our future?
Technology is evolving so quickly, and with it, whole industries are changing. Traditional competitors are innovating, and new competitors are moving into your space. Added to that, consumers continue to demand exceptional online experiences. Businesses today need Agents of Transformation to drive innovation, to challenge you to do things differently, and to ensure your customer or user’s digital experiences are world class. It takes talent to harvest the capabilities of the future.
What should organizations be doing in order to develop, nurture and support Agents of Transformation?
Create a challenging and fun environment for the people in your organization to work in. Encourage entrepreneurship and ownership. Break down traditional siloes, and champion collaboration across teams and departments. Support them by providing the best tools and technologies, and trust in allowing them the room to make mistakes and learn from them.
The right people will work hard for you – your job is to help them become successful.
"It takes talent to harvest the capabilities of the future."
Become an Agent of Transformation
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