Business Transformation

Wray Reshaping CenturyLink Cloud Operation

CenturyLink CTO Aamir Hussain wasted no time in reorganizing the third-largest US telecom carrier into an agile IT organization. The man he chose to head the company-wide cloud platform, Jared Wray, is likewise wasting no time implementing sweeping change. (See New CenturyLink CTO in Major Overhaul.)

Wray, whose title is SVP-Platform for CenturyLink Inc. (NYSE: CTL), came into the carrier when the cloud company he founded, Tier 3, was acquired and became the foundation of the CenturyLink Cloud organization. In Hussain's reorganization, however, Wray took on much more than that. He assumed responsibility for managed and auxiliary services and what had been the Savvis operation -- another acquisition -- as well as CenturyLink's data centers, as part of a company-wide cloud platform capable of creating services much faster and more flexibly. (See CenturyLink Buys Cloud Leader Tier 3.)

In the two months Wray has been running the broader organization, the cloud pioneer has implemented dramatic changes in how work is done and expects to double the output of his assembled team as a result.

"We run a very specific model of how we build products, invest in products, deploy products and operate from the cloud side," Wray explained in an interview conducted at Light Reading's Big Telecom Event following his keynote speech there. With the reorg, he has gone from having six teams to just over 30, and is moving them all to this model to create faster development cycles that are "more rigid on the process" and less managed in the traditional sense. (See Adventures in 'Platforming' at BTE.)

CenturyLink's Jared Wray Delivers BTE Keynote

As a result, layers of management were eliminated -- the organization is now much flatter with only two layers, those who report directly to Wray and then their reports. Another major change right off the bat was a more focused road map, which included some hard calls on what the organization wouldn't do, in order to focus its resources on the most important work.

"We made it clear all the work would be very feedback-oriented," Wray says. That feedback was based on data from customer aggregation points that is used to add to or alter the roadmap every 21 days.

Where teams in the past had seven different specific roles -- titles such as architect, analyst, project manager, product manager and different types of engineers -- the new teams are based on more generic roles. And the teams work together in open rooms so there is constant communication as part of the work process rather than working independently, then coming together to meet and discuss progress.

Check out all the news and views from the 2015 Big Telecom Event at Light Reading's dedicated BTE show news channel.

Each team is autonomous in how it operates, functioning as its own business unit and owning product and all the functions surrounding it. The team members see their revenue numbers, up time and performance. "They get excited about it -- they control their destiny," Wray says. "They get instant impact of what they are doing. They are actually affecting what is going on."

"In our model, it's all about accountability, and manufacturing gives you the guide rails to give accountability," he says. The generic roles break down siloed responsibilities -- an "architecture engineer," for example, becomes a senior engineer with more development responsibility and less architecture.

"We also stopped the ivory tower architecture projects," Wray explains. "Instead of doing a three-year to four-year architecture, we are doing a progressive refinement."

Next page: The process defined

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jabailo 6/14/2015 | 1:05:01 PM
Holocracy Nice to see holocracy style management practices installed at CenturyLink.  I'm a recent customer of their ADSL2+ home service and have been mightly impressed with my dealings with them so far.   I went looking at their cloud offerings as well and was also interested.   CenturyLink could be a soup-to-nuts information systems provider with its vast network of local fiber nodes.

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