Intel famously bought McAfee in 2011 only to recently spinout the company to TPG, an asset management firm, with a 51% stake.
Following the 2011 acquisition, McAfee, renamed as Intel Security, required new direction, new leadership, and new positioning, not only to preserve what remained of McAfee but also to generate returns justificatory of it’s 2011 expense—$7.7 billion dollars.
The newly minted Intel Security had one major flaw. There were too many moving parts.
According to Patty Hatter, McAfee’s former GM and CIO:
“McAfee had been growing from technology acquisitions.”
Prior to being purchased, McAfee focused on buying up technology companies to boost their product offering, but hadn’t rationalized the “go-to market.”
There was no clear sense of how the diverse products fit into the company’s overall strategy or goals; and beyond that, how it fit into their customer’s lives. As Hatter put it
“Is the vendor making it easier for the customer to get an integrated solution? The focus on how you pull the pieces together just hadn’t been done yet.”
In a recent conversation with Hatter, I gained deep insight into the problems of disparate product offerings, unfocused strategy and culture, and, most importantly, on how a course correction of this magnitude is formulated and implemented.
Prior to working with McAfee, Patty Hatter held various executive roles at Cisco and AT&T, where she designed and deployed strategies meant to accelerate revenue, market position, and profitability. As Vice President of Operations at Cisco, Hatter achieved a 30% increase in productivity through digital transformation efforts, and at AT&T, as their Vice President and Client Partner, she grew the business segment 10 fold to over $200 million.
Having first joined McAfee as VP of Operations, Hatter found that there were numerous solutions but none could get out to the customers. The way she explained it, engineers didn’t know how to rationalize the business model to their customers nor integrate the numerous solutions into comprehensive packages. From a customer standpoint, buying into subscriptions was difficult because there was no “cross-functionality.”
In Hatter’s view, the core IT issue mirrored the business issue: there was a lack of agreement among business units on what’s most important.
“What does each group do that is important? Why? Let’s start to quantify it, and then let’s vote on what’s most important.”
As luck would have it, shortly after that success, Hatter became CIO (Chief Information Officer). Armed with the business functions and priorities, it was much easier to coalesce IT support to create clouds for teams across the entire org. The main problem then was time and infrastructure. “Our global ordering platform was crumbling from transactional volumes,” and that digital competency had to be built out in one year. “I wouldn’t wish that timeline on my worst enemy.”
It took several executive team meetings until one day, a focused business roadmap came together and everyone agreed on it. That was the next fiscal year’s guide.
From that point forward, money and effort started to converge and there was IT alignment with the business.
‘’What I started with was, let’s work on the business function for sales, marketing support, IT. Let’s pull all these business functions together and get agreement on what is the most important thing for us to be working on collectively, from a big transformation point of view.”
And the fact that everybody bought in, including the business leaders, is what made the subsequent digital transformation truly possible.
The key to overcoming this challenge was, once again, buy-in. Since she’d taken the crucial steps of aligning business functions and hashing out a roadmap, there was buy in from leaders who then made it possible to leverage resources and motivate team members. “I was very fortunate that individual contributors in the organization were super strong.” In the end, they moved from transforming business functions to building out a hybrid cloud for the IT workload, which supported operations on both the enterprise and consumer sides.
The change was noticeable.
“We went from nobody was on the same page, nobody even knew to worry about getting on the same page, to fierce agreement on priorities.”
Hatter’s approach to improving the consumer cloud was no different from her IT organizational approach. She asked questions. “We did do things based on customer interviews… we knew some of the pinch points that were really bothering them,” she explained, “We were committed to really doing whatever it takes for the customer.”
Not everyone understands this approach, however. At every turn, then, you have to paint a picture of why what you are doing is important? And a clear sense of why it’s better than what you are already doing.
This insight characterizes Hatter’s leadership style as well. The way she sees it, if as a leader you aren’t willing to do a thing yourself, then don’t make someone else do it. It’s a benchmark of importance. If it’s important enough, the leader should be willing to do it too. That’s how you build trust.
“So you have to use the bank account analogy. Money in the bank with your employees and everybody that you’re working with means, ‘You can trust me, we’ll get through this.’ Do this when times are good and easy, because you’ll need that credibility when times aren’t easy.”
The way I see it, Hatter believes that priorities, people, and payoffs are vital elements to weather any large-scale digital transformation. You and your team need clear and mutually agreed-upon priorities; you need the right people to operationalize them; and you need discernible outcomes, or metric, of success.