Most senior executives, regardless of background or outlook, will now agree that digitization should be a priority for their company. They realize that intelligent use of data and digital technology will lead to better products, more efficient creation of them, and a more productive way to sell them.
CIOs and their teams have obviously been at the vanguard of this change, and have had to rejig almost every aspect of how they do corporate IT as a result. At a recent CEB meeting of several hundred IT leaders in Chicago it was clear that this change had gone beyond theories or a parroted corporate aspiration, many IT professionals shared a range of real-world examples describing the concrete plans and practical steps they are putting in place to make digitization a reality in their organizations.
Three Leading Tactics
Overall it was clear that many see it as an exciting time to be in IT. Digitization creates new opportunities for companies to grow and to create competitive advantage, and this in turn creates new career opportunities for IT professionals.
IT strategy = business strategy: The summit produced numerous examples of companies pursuing ambitious strategies to transform their products, channels, and operations. In each case, IT was deeply involved and IT strategy had become the same as the business strategy.
In fact, the terms “IT” and “the business” came up far less frequently than at similar events in the past. In the day-to-day work of many of the leaders who attended, the distinctions that lie behind those terms seem increasingly irrelevant.
A new operating model for IT: Many IT leaders talked about how they are developing new, faster and more flexible operating models for IT. One popular session focused on a key feature of the new model – a move to product management. The session discussed how product definition and product manager development are two of the most important factors to get right; and described how funding can now be allocated at the product line level.
In another session, attendees discussed how a leading healthcare company is using shared metrics to promote the right behaviors for DevOps, avoiding the trap of viewing DevOps as solely a structure or process.
You can’t digitize without digital talent: The talent implications of digitization are all too often overlooked, but the attendees at the summit discussed in depth the changes that IT teams need to make to be ready for digital transformation.
One session reviewed six steps that leading organizations are taking, including hiring more versatile skills profiles; filling competency gaps in areas such as influencing, relationship management, and creativity; and standing up cross-cutting “fusion teams”.
Another session reviewed practical ways to make IT’s culture more collaborative and open to new ways of working. Diversity emerged as an important way to tap larger talent pools in an ever tighter labor market, and as a source of IT employees with different perspectives and new customer insight, both of which are vital for successful digital initiatives.