IT organizations are under enormous pressure—caught between an aging workforce and increasingly tech-savvy business departments whose need for speed is accelerating. In many cases, IT is simply working to avoid being seen as a roadblock or a laggard. And the market has many voices for change. Some say “IT should change into a pure data analytics department!” Others say, “Wait, cost pressure and security needs will reveal the importance of IT again over time.” To survive today’s dynamic business environment, IT organizations will do well to consider two new ways of thinking.
1. Create interdisciplinary teams.
The challenges of a digital world cannot be addressed in isolated technical towers. Some of the most innovative solutions today cut across territorial lines. The Internet of Things (IoT), for example, combines network, sensor hardware, software, integration and operations. And the need for faster solution development calls for agile and collaborative work structures rather than waterfall approaches and silos.
Interdisciplinary work needs individuals with curious minds who are willing to step out of their comfort zone. Finding the right talent—whether internally or externally—is one important piece of the interdisciplinary puzzle. Creating a work environment in which these groups can thrive is another. The best teams are intergenerational, made up of both experienced and young employees that learn to trust each other. This group needs a flexible management framework, with reporting lines and targets that will bring the individuals together to rise to the challenge. A social collaboration platform will help these groups make their work available to others.
Coordinating interdisciplinary teams can accelerate innovation and cultivate creativity with a one-plus-one-equals-three effect that seldom happens in silos. Virtual teams, which are being used in many solutions development centers around the world today, may be a way to get started on the path to increased interdisciplinary problem-solving.
2. Embed IT with business units.
The conventional IT organization has an operational role and is organized around achieving predefined service level agreements. Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) practices for IT service management have increased the interaction between the IT department and the business by, among other things, helping to manage demand. But the new challenge for IT organizations is figuring out how to go beyond operations to actively support the business and build flexible platforms to help it compete and grow its market share.
This means the IT organization needs to expand its role from one that merely delivers services to one that includes designing and implementing fit-for-purpose solutions. IT must follow through to ensure the solution is fully adopted and used over time and that its solutions and services reinforce business goals and show real outcomes. This is not about emulating a sales force for internal services but about creating a solution consulting capacity.
Of course, the difficult part of any approach is always measuring success. The most obvious goal—reducing shadow IT—is tricky to measure. If IT is truly in the shadows, how do you know by what degree it has been reduced? Certain KPIs can help. Keep track of the rate of adoption of platforms delivered by IT and the number of escalations resulting from business units that procure solutions on their own. You should also look for improvement on your “classic” KPIs like customer satisfaction.
To stand a chance against external competition and do-it-yourself lines of businesses, IT organizations need to beef up their consultative selling competencies and find new ways to support enterprise goals. ISG helps enterprise IT find its way in today’s changing landscape. Contact me to discuss further.
About the author
Matthias helps enterprises and service providers identify the value and understand the changes of cloud computing and digitalization. He is a recognized thought leader and speaker and uses his experience and vision to align customer needs with technology to create new potential. From assessing a company’s cloud maturity and giving clear guidance on actions to translating the benefits of the cloud into specific business advantages, he achieves results jointly with the customer. Matthias has been active in all aspects of enterprise computing from the data center, through sales to strategy and drives cloud computing full time since 2007. He has extensive international experience, helping to build the Microsoft collaboration cloud business in EMEA from scratch.