The role of IT has changed from providing technology solutions to now driving business outcomes and strategy through the use of technology. This means the way we think of and define IT must now also change.
High performing IT groups are out in front of the business, they understand both the business strategy and technology so well that solutions are being created even before the business knows they are possible.
When we look at industries such as banking, finance, insurance, legal, education, etc, innovations in technology have completely altered business and operational strategies and models.
Think of yourself as a consumer in these areas and what it would be like if the technological solutions that they are run on were not present.
To effectively make this transformation, there are 5 key areas that need to be altered:
1. From reactive to proactive
IT can no longer think like a supplier waiting for orders to be placed from the business and their sole job is to fulfil them.
We can’t be like the counter person at McDonalds only asking, “What can I get for you?” and “Would you like fries with that?”
We need to be proactive in understanding business strategy and drivers so that we build proactive solutions to drive them forward.
2 .From order takers to strategic partners
The fundamental relationship between IT and the business must alter. We must eliminate the entire concept of “aligning” with the business. IT and the business are ‘one’ – there is no differentiation or separation.
There is no separation of accounting, finance or HR from the business, and there should not be one for IT. Just like any other area, in IT, we are the business.
3. From silos to one IT team
The organisational perception of IT is as one unit but in IT we have not only created silos between ourselves and other areas of the business, we’ve also created silos within IT. We must break down these barriers and operate as one IT team. We must have a consistent mission, strategy, communication, and messaging between all areas of IT and the rest of the organisation.
4. From traditional metrics to business results
As our role and function has changed, so must the way we evaluate our results and effectiveness. In the past we measured our success on the effectiveness and reliability of our technology (e.g. frequency of outages).
Today we must include business and financial metrics (e.g. return on investment, customer satisfaction, cost savings, improved operational efficiencies, etc.).
5. From technical skills to partnering skills
The talent and culture of our organisations must adapt to fulfil this new purpose. Technology skills are no longer enough. We need to have our technology skills to “get in the door”.
It is then our business skills that will get us “a seat at the table” and finally it is our interpersonal skills and partnering skills that will keep us there!
Lou Markstrom is the co-author of Unleashing the Power of IT: Bringing People, Business, and Technology Together, published by Wiley as part of its CIO series. Lou is currently the Practice Leader of the IT Culture and Talent Development Area at DDLS.
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