We at Forrester want to extend our congratulations to Oshkosh Corporation for receiving Forrester’s first-ever Technology Strategy Impact award at our recent Technology & Innovation North America event. Oshkosh is honored for implementing a future fit technology strategy that optimizes the organization’s core technology, establishes new digital business capabilities, and improves its cybersecurity posture.

In a keynote session at the event, Forrester SVP of Research Sharyn Leaver sat down with Anupam Khare, SVP and CIO of Oshkosh, to discuss the organization’s inspiring transformation from a support-focused organization to a future fit technology organization.

Oshkosh is an $8 billion industrial technology company that designs and manufactures specialty trucks and access equipment (think military and first-responder vehicles). When Khare joined the company in 2018, the firm was already an established leader in product manufacturing — as Khare puts it, “the things you can see.” But when it came to digitization of business processes and its overall technology strategy, the firm was lagging. His first hint? When he asked business leaders what they wanted to see from the technology organization, their response boiled down to “make our PCs and systems work properly.” It was a pretty low bar, and Khare saw a tremendous opportunity for his organization to co-create more business value.

The Transformation Strategy In A Nutshell

Oshkosh’s transformation to a future fit technology strategy had three key pillars:

  • Focus on measurable business value to earn the trust of stakeholders. To help bridge the gap between digital and the business, Khare filled an IT strategy role and portfolio management role with a team member who didn’t have an IT background — he had a business strategy background. Secondly, a cross-functional portfolio enablement board was established to shape a technology portfolio that focused on business value enablement. As a result, the number of projects the digital organization supports has been reduced from roughly 150 per year to around 60, but the value of the project portfolio increased significantly.
  • Take a platform approach to technology. The core technology platforms that Oshkosh invested in were cloud/IoT, data transformation/AI, and intelligent automation. Each was selected because it has a clear connection to enablement of business priorities and the digital technology team is actively co-innovating with the business units to unlock new use cases.
  • Invest in talent and culture. The vision of the organization was to move from being a support provider to being digital thought leaders. The three-pronged talent strategy focused on: upskilling existing talent, providing team members new and expanded opportunities to apply their new skill sets, and being intentional about hiring emerging skill sets to fill any voids. In addition, the culture within the IT organization was oriented around four core competencies: customer obsession, agility, results orientation, and entrepreneurship (creating the useful acronym C.A.R.E.).

Funding The Transformation

One of the biggest questions around a transformation journey is how to fund it. Rather than asking for incremental budget, Oshkosh’s digital technology team took it upon themselves to self-fund the establishment of new digital capabilities by focusing on IT automation and service enhancement. The team performed granular benchmarking for the services it delivers to identify areas of inefficiency or duplication and explore better ways of doing things. To date, Oshkosh has automated over 100,000 hours of monotonous work and now reports to the CEO and board of directors on two IT business value metrics:

  1. Hard savings, defined as how much impact technology has had on operating income
  2. Automation hours, to measure how much automation has happened

And in terms of funding, there is a snowball effect. As value of digitization becomes better understood, more business units are carving out money in their budgets for technology projects, so IT doesn’t have to fund digital transformation alone. Not only is that more cost-effective for the technology organization, but it also exemplifies a level of trust and buy-in from the business units.

In the future, our research team will dig into Oshkosh’s work to develop a future fit technology strategy in more detail. But for now, we want to say congratulations to Oshkosh for its outstanding work in these areas!