What are the secrets to a successful digital transformation? We’re exploring that in our Going Digital podcast hosted by Peter High, President of Metis Strategy, Author and Keynote Speaker. Peter recently interviewed Gus Shahin, the Chief Information Officer and Senior Vice President of IT at Flex (formerly known as Flextronics) to understand their success. Note – this transcript has been edited due to space limitations.

Flex manages supply chains and manufactures products for companies – from large OEMs like Cisco to startups. They procure, manufacture, distribute, and repair products for their customers with about 100 factories in 40 countries.

Secret #1: Flex has a digital mission control center called the pulse center.

According to Gus, “The pulse center gives us a real-time view of our supply chain. We get geopolitical alerts, weather alerts, and anything that’s happening around the world that could potentially disrupt the supply chain. We get alerted immediately, and just by looking at the screens we can see what’s going on and we are able to alter things so that we do not disrupt the supply chain for our customers.”

Secret #2: IT truly collaborates with the supply chain team and the procurement team.

Gus Shahin: “I sponsored the pulse center initiative with our chief procurement officer and supply chain officer, Tom. We put together the teams, and IT provided the entire backend infrastructure, data capture, the KPIs, and so on. They gave us all the business requirements and what they’re looking for. We co-located a bunch of IT folks and a bunch of supply-chain folks in a room together for several months to work this out. We brought the segment guys in to give us a customer perspective. Then we brought in the procurement guys to give us the supply perspective. It’s true collaboration and if we were to do this on our own, it wouldn’t have been successful. If you don’t get IT involved right from the beginning, I don’t think you’re going to have a chance to do that. Our executives realized that upfront, and IT was always engaged, sitting at the table with them from day one”

Secret #3: Flex rents out their innovation lab to get incremental revenue.

According to Gus, “The purpose of the innovation lab is to allow people to bring an idea to reality as quickly as possible, as cheaply as possible. There are many times where people have an idea, but they have a hard time designing the product, building it, adding a wireless module through it, etc. We give them full access to the labs and they can collaborate with our engineers. We charge them for the time they need to use the lab and they can pay by credit card. That’s really taken off so we’ve replicated the lab in Israel, Europe, and China.”

Learn more about Flex’s digital transformation secrets in the full podcast here. What do you think of Flex’s approach to digital transformation? Let us know in the comments section and thanks for reading.

For more highlights from the interview, view the slideshare:




Douglas Bellin

Global Lead, Industries

Manufacturing and Energy