How Digital Transformation is Transforming IT and Business Roles
Simon Ratcliffe Principal Consultant, Advisory
In my previous blog post, I introduced the recent research undertaken by Ensono in conjunction with the Cloud Industry Forum that provides insights on drivers of digital transformation drivers and KPIs don’t stack up on those drivers.
For this blog, it’s important to provide insight on the findings that both IT and business decision makers (BDMs) from across a wide range of enterprise organisations indicated that one of the most significant impacts of their digital transformation initiatives was on their own roles. The research highlights an interesting divergence between IT and business in the effect of these changes. Whilst IT reported increased pressure to perform at a faster pace across more workloads, the business reported a greater freedom to innovate within their role.
On the face of it, this indicates that the business is becoming increasingly demanding of IT and perhaps abdicating the responsibility for delivery, but looking deeper into the results, suggesting that it is not that simple. Over half of BDMs believe they need greater technical skills to properly leverage the opportunity presented by digital transformation, whereas only a third of IT decision makers believe they require greater technical knowledge.
Three quarters of respondents across both groups cited the need for better communication skills and two thirds identified better team working (within and across teams) as the key skills required for transformational success. Whilst these were consistent messages across the whole group, only half of the IT decision makers saw leadership and cross-functional co-ordination as important.
It seems clear that digital transformation initiatives are driving a change in organisational behaviour in many organisations. The traditional IT function is no longer seeking to control all things technological and is morphing into a function that enables solutions that meet the needs of other elements of the business. The IT decision makers clearly see this new approach as far more effective although less than half of the BDMs see leadership, communication and effective management as important within the IT function.
Is the freedom felt by the BDMs to innovate simply a reflection that they feel they can throw off the shackles of IT governance? Less than a third of BDMs see negotiation skills to allow all affected parties to reach accord as a significant factor in transformational activity, and fewer still see cross functional resource management as significant. In comparison, nearly half of the BDMs see the need for them to have enhanced technical skills to enable their decision-making processes which suggests that many BDMs are seeing the IT department as less relevant in their strategic planning.
If BDMs are feeling more empowered and more able to identify and set key strategic initiatives, are we approaching the end of the traditional IT function? In some senses, yes, but rather than being the death knell for IT this is truly an opportunity for IT to transform into a new, strategic function with true representation at the boardroom table. However, the successful CIO, the one who wants to avoid becoming obsolete, must actively drive this transformation and engage strongly and effectively with the business and weave together the sometimes-disparate strands of business strategy and IT governance.
The current message is clear: businesses know they must transform to grow or, at the base level, to survive. The transformation, although business-centric, is likely driven through technology adoption and for this to truly succeed, the IT function itself must transform just as the business already is.