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Tom Warner

IT: The digital transformation multi-tool – help me make it real

In the less connected world of the near past, it was enough for IT to support the needs of an organisation through an intranet, reliable email and some ‘good enough’ enterprise software. In the world of massive connectivity, transparency and social technology, IT has the opportunity to become one of the core enablers for building organisations that are fit for digital. In order to deliver on this lofty ambition, IT can do great things by working hard on its own culture.

Caveat: I am using the term ‘IT’ as a catchall for all technology teams and leaders in organisations – The diversity of roles, skills and cultures within IT is often underrepresented but, for the purposes of this article, I’ll be generalising – please humour me!

As Stowe Boyd relates in his blog post on digital transformation, “For many companies, technology and technology management are the constraining factors in their corporations’ response to change and growth”. The story of Kim Stevenson, CIO at Intel,  shows the importance of transforming IT from a ‘good enough’ support structure into an innovation and collaboration multi-tool, one that improves itself, hacks existing structures for the better and challenges incumbent processes.

You are not expecting enough of IT

 

Kim Stevenson, CIO of Intel

 

To get there, the people in IT can start to live and breathe new ideals: Agile methods vs. the waterfall, acceptance of failure and pragmatic approaches to risk and security, followed by a hefty glug of creativity and futurism. IT cultures are often represented as insular and anti-social, nerdy and averse to business culture. From my experience, there is also bundles of creativity and intelligence, comfort with deep complexity and strong, hard-working communities.

The opportunities from leveraging those innovative and transformative skills are extremely exciting, but those opportunities are being missed because of cultural barriers between IT and the rest of the business, a lack of integration of IT in the core purpose and strategy of an organisation and siloed, non-collaborative mindsets. These are some of the issues with traditional approaches to IT departments and leaders – some even doubt the future integrity of such structures – to quote Stowe Boyd’s article again:

When computers and networks became available, companies went outside and hired a geek with an appropriate degree and a pocket protector, and made him (or her) CIO. Those days are past… in a world where ‘computication’ is the bloodstream and nervous system of the business the premise of an IT department makes no sense.

The changing digital world has changed who we are, but it has also transformed the tools we use to live our lives: our data lives in the cloud, we carry the internet in our pockets with mobile devices, social media technology has forced transparency and we have better tools at home for watching the TV than we do at work to do real, meaningful stuff. IT has a responsibility to bring all those modernising technology changes to the workplace and keep up with people’s technology expectations, based upon their experiences in the ‘real world’,  and create environments fit for the employees of the near future; those born into a digital by default world. IT has the opportunity to no longer just react to changes in the ‘real world’ after the event, rather to become one with digital culture and produce things in real time with minimum lag.

I want to help IT and digital leaders to allow IT to become one with digital culture inside large organisations, organically and with purposeful meaning.

NixonMcInnes knows how to create positive, meaningful transformation and I think I can help IT and digital leaders to drive those changes for IT. In order to make that compelling and real, I would love your help in collecting your insights on what you think about IT, your first hand experiences and would you would do differently if you had the opportunity. I’ll collect and share all those insights right here for your benefit, and you will get the lovely side benefit of helping me to fulfil our mission: To create meaning in business. More meaningful business makes for better business, better business makes for a better world and I think we could all do with a bit of that.

Here are some starters for 10:

  • What do you think needs to fundamentally change about organisational IT?
  • If you are responsible for IT, or digital, in your organisation, what help do you need to achieve the changes i’ve talked about here?
  • Tell me a story about how you tried and succeeded, or failed, to change IT culture in your own organisation.
  • If you are an IT worker, what would you do with your skills if you worked in an environment where your skills were valued creatively, not just as a resource?
  • Have your amazing ideas been blocked at every turn by IT compliance restrictions, or disengaged/disinterested IT leaders? How did that feel and what did you do?
  • Do you think there are more pressing concerns at large organisations than creating a better culture of IT? If so, what are they?
Please either comment here, or send me your thoughts on Twitter via @nixonmcinnes or @thoswarner

 

Thanks for listening and hope to hear from you soon!

 

 

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2 Comments

  1. ross

    Lovely post Tom. Love the Intel quote.

    Posted 5th February 2014 at 6:29 pm | Permalink
  2. This is awesome, Tom! Good luck in your quest! :)

    Posted 5th February 2014 at 8:43 pm | Permalink