Leadership & Management February 19, 2019

CEOs are in the middle of digital transformations

- By Frédérik Barbieux, Independent Trainer

Is your IT department renowned for its technological excellence, for its organizational efficiency or for mastering the human factor? Besides, which of these 3 axes seem to be the most important to master nowadays? This article might help you answer these questions.

Changing posture

Let’s acknowledge that the IT department’s role has drastically changed in the past 10 years. As a hint, note that more and more companies now create a separate digital department, often with a strategic position. It surely shows that expectations about IT services have evolved.

Today, beyond conveying information across the company, through hardware and software management, IT departments are expected by the general management to implement digital strategies that are foreseen as strong competitive differentiators.

Indeed, with an easy access to new technologies, digital users – employees as well as customers –are personally equipped to interact massively with high quality information systems. They are also demanding information services in their professional environment that are as simple, as practical, as useful, fast, available, effective, even as fun, as what they use everywhere else. We have to keep up the pace.

Furthermore, the continuous or transformational evolutions of companies are often simultaneous with changes of magnitude in their information systems. The dependency between business transformations and transformations of information systems has become critical for companies.

This interconnexion directly impacts the mission of IT departments, and the criticality of their role in companies. CIOs need to adjust their posture to reconsider their relationships:

  • Internally, the link between IT and business departments must go beyond a simple technology provider-user relationship. It should evolve towards an interdependency allowing an efficient collaboration and business success.
  • Externally, the multiplicity of technological choices, their complexity and the pace of their evolutions, call for a reconsideration of the relationship IT departments have with technology, and the link they have with their suppliers. To transform these relationships, CIOs and their team need to reconsider their posture, their approaches or their interactions, in a word, they have to transform themselves. This is about making strong cultural adjustments.

To transform these relationships, CIOs and their team need to reconsider their posture, their approaches or their interactions, in a word, they have to transform themselves. This is about making strong cultural adjustments.

So, what can we do?

Collaborate

The term seems simple and yet it is fundamental in the context of digital developments. Digital facilitates collaboration. Collaboration is also the essence of digital. The IT departments will benefit from being exemplary on this topic.

By starting to implement the right mindset and practices of collaboration internally, within its team, the IT department will demonstrate its ability to live and create positive interactions, both in terms of pleasure and success. Then, in the same way, it will be able to cooperate with all its stakeholders, having a clear objective of contributing to their growth.

The above certainly seems obvious; you already know. We have no doubt about it and the question here is not to identify if you know what to do, the question is only: to what extent do you actually do it?

Ask the right questions

As a second step, we can change the involvement of the IT department towards the overall company strategy. Today, is the IT department a support of the activity, is it a major source of performance or is it a transformational factor? Should it also take a new position in this matter?

There is no good answer, a priori, to these questions. Simply note that answering them is not the responsibility of the IT department alone.

Digital governance is a key topic for the company's management, it should be in the hands of the executive committee as a whole. What kind of IT department do you need to succeed in your digital transformations?

And don’t forget to ask this question regularly, because if there is such a transformation going on, then the expectations and the needs, in terms of digital governance, may evolve accordingly.

Make them grow

Another way to change the posture of the IT department is to focus on the development of each of its team members. How do you grow the team members of the IT department? Perhaps you have trained, or will you soon, your teams on all digital technologies’ essentials, for your business to run smoothly. Surely, they are also ITIL or COBIT certified on one side and CAPM, PMP or Prince2 on the other.

What about behavioral skills? What is their development program in the area of soft skills?

IT teams will be able to follow changes related to the transformation, if they develop equally on the 3 associated pillars: the technical, the organizational and the human factors. Actually, this last pillar seems even the most important, when the goal is to change in terms of posture.

To know more:

- Two experts, involved in several transformations linked to digital, have partnered with Krauthammer to propose a workshop on the human factor in digital transformations. Please contact us if you want to know more about this.

- Read also: The 3 pillars of digital transformation

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