Attracting Customers with New Digital Experiences

Leading a Full Enterprise Digital Transformation

A conversation with Shaun Braun, the SVP of Digital Transformation at 3M

In this Spotlight, Shaun Braun, 3M’s Senior Vice President of Digital Transformation, shares the framework used to drive decision-making across the entire enterprise leading the 120-year-old company into the digital era.

This interview is also available in an audio format. Listen to the podcast by clicking your favorite player icon below, and subscribe to AWS Conversations with Leaders podcast to never miss an episode. 

“When we place bets, we're placing bets with knowledge that those have been grown up through those teams. And ultimately, we're making that prioritization decision with that knowledge across the entire enterprise.”

Innovate to stay ahead

Defining the right outcomes

3M has been a pathfinder of innovation from a material science perspective, heavy on the physics and chemistry, molecular products. This transition into digital is something that has moved quickly in some areas, but has stalled out in others. My role is looking across the entire enterprise. We've broken down and defined digital, which was the first step into digital customer, digital product, digital operations, and digital enterprise. 

We wanted to define what each of those meant. For digital customer, this is really about how can we make sure that we are interacting with our customers in a more digital fashion? Understanding, getting insights, omnichannel and across the many industries that 3M partakes and sells in. Those are different offenses. Digital product really looked at a lot of the material science products, from the work that we do across transportation, all the way across to consumer, where a lot of folks will know the Post-it, Command and Scotch brands. How do we actually start to digitize some of those physical products?

Then you shift to the other side of the equation. You have the customer and product side, which runs, as I described, an offense across each of the PGs, but we have a centralized operations group, massive manufacturing across a large set of countries and many different technologies. With the push of Industry 4.0, a lot of the workaround connecting manufacturing and connecting supply chain and the rich data sets that can come off of each of those elements can help us be smarter with our operations. And then finally digital enterprise, again, really getting into the back office, but there's an incredible amount of opportunities at the scale of 3M to apply digital in many ways there. It was very important to define digital, to break it down into these four outcome areas, because before that it was digital buzzword bingo, and there was no real clear trajectory or offense or focus across each of these four outcome areas.

3M’s Defined Digital Outcome Areas


Digital Customer


Digital Product


Digital Operations


Digital Enterprise

Moving faster with the cloud

Measuring and enabling progress

The opportunities when you start talking about digital are immense. And while we broke down the four outcome areas, we have also put out an EBITDA target, not a revenue target, an EBITDA target that's five years out. That's going to hit both the top line revenue side but also the operational side, where we can get efficiencies from digital across both our digital operations and our digital enterprise. That has helped to put a target out about what are we defining inside these outcome areas.

We then had three enablers that we identified. One of them being digital culture, and culture often times needs to change. From an organization that grew up in a certain way and ran at a certain pace and had certain operating models when they want to inject digital—digital fluency, digital mindset, digital speed. We had a focus enabler on digital culture. You have to prioritize. You can't do everything and you have to work in an agile fashion so you understand where the winners and losers are so you can move, stop, invest more, invest more, stop. Prioritization has been a critical element to that.

For each of those four outcome areas, we wanted to push the decision making to the deciding bodies. For the first time we pulled the senior leaders across each of those areas together into one room to discuss and prioritize the demand signals that were coming in from across the globe. For digital customer, we have all the chief marketing officers together, along with the leader that leads customer operations centrally. And they look at all of the opportunities that are coming up through each of the four business groups and the operations teams. When we place bets, we're placing bets with knowledge that those have been grown up through those teams. And ultimately, we're making that prioritization decision with that knowledge across the entire enterprise.

Connecting the dots with cross-industry data

Shifting the culture

You have to make it very visible, and it may feel a little corporate, but we set up a digital culture initiative. We brought in our CHRO, our Head of Technology across each R&D group plus one of the business group presidents to make sure we had a commercial element to it. And then we brought in a diverse set of senior leaders to really identify what the work streams are that we needed to attack. Because to your point, technology is the easy part, technology's been around for a long time. It's a Renaissance now because we're using old technologies, but driving them inside an enterprise.  But it's the culture that has to change.

78% of digital transformations fail because of culture, and so if you don't address that element, you will never get off a PowerPoint presentation. We created this structure, created work streams from the top. And then I met at all levels of the organization and started a Digital Alliance. Some groups wanted to call it Dumbledore's army, others liked Rebel Alliance. (You've got some Star Wars and Harry Potter fans, obviously, when you get into the digital teams). The goal is really understanding some of the pressure points and pain points that are going on inside the organization. You have the scaffolding at the top level, and then you start to build the inertia at the doers—the actual digital warriors—and you have to connect those two. It's been really exciting. And I won't say which side of that equation I like playing on more.

“78% of digital transformations fail because of culture…and so if you don't address that element, you will never get off a PowerPoint presentation.”

3M, just the culture of innovation that they had and have grown up with—taking innovation from the center and pushing it out and getting incredible value out to the customer and the products that they bring to market—it was part of the culture. It just wasn't part of the digital culture. I was able to lean on that and just be able to propagate that flow with digital elements. They have a 15% culture element built in. Everybody in the company has 15% of their time to dedicate to elements of innovation that they find a passion for. I learned about that, I read about it, I talked to the leaders that had really driven this successfully across the organization and embedded that right into the digital culture. 

And now that we’re with AWS, fully leveraging that platform, we have completed thousands of hours of training, and really leveled up the organization. And this is when you provide the opportunity and the pathway, the individuals that are going to grow and accelerate in, they select in. If you force everybody in, you're not going to get the value. And as we opened it up, and we built out digital profiles and paths, for whether you're in marketing, or whether you're in R & D or whether you're in IT, and gamified it a bit with tags, it's been amazing to see how many thousands of our employees have moved through that. And AWS has some great classes and structure that we've been able to lean on.

But, you have to inject outside thinking too. Case in point, just coming a year-and-a-half in, and what I've challenged the entire organization on is we have to go on offense. There are going to be individuals that will leave the organization. That's happening globally. For 3M, making sure that we're telling our story effectively and going on offense, and pulling outside talent in that maybe was at another company for a long, long time. And then through the great resignation, it could be the great hiring opportunity. I've challenged the organization not to be on defense just trying to protect what we have. You want to give individuals opportunities to be on these exciting programs and share the exciting programs and train them up.

Constant communication is critical. There are headwinds that are coming, supply chain challenges, raw material challenges. There has been noise across the entire ecosystem, like no other. With a transformation, it is a journey, and leaders across the organization have to ensure their teams—while we’re all navigating probably the most extreme disruption across businesses—that maybe the path is going to change, but that focus and direction and the why remains crystal clear.

Moving faster with the cloud

About the Leaders

Shaun Braun, Senior Vice President of Digital Transformation at 3M

Shaun Braun
Senior Vice President of Digital Transformation at 3M

Shaun Braun is the Senior Vice President of Digital Transformation at 3M.  In this role, Shaun is responsible for developing and leading the enterprise digital strategy including technical and commercial leadership across the business teams and enterprise operations.

Phil LeBrun
AWS Enterprise Strategist

Phil joined AWS as an Enterprise Strategist and Evangelist in September 2019. In this role, he shares practical lessons from his experiences implementing technology at scale. He uses these lessons to help enterprises succeed in achieving their own cloud-based technology goals to support organizational agility and customer-centricity. Connect with Phil. 

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