Many businesses look to IT to own digital transformation for the enterprise, but IT organizations are struggling to adapt to this newfound leadership role.
Part of the issue is perception. Studies show little confidence in IT to lead transformational projects: McKinsey reported that a paltry 12% of stakeholders believe that their IT organization is “very effective” at leading digital transformations across the enterprise.
This is a huge problem because global spending on digital transformation will exceed $2 trillion annually by 2021. IT departments will, out of necessity, play a key role in supporting the success of that staggering investment. With nearly a third of projects in the pipeline directly related to digital transformation and many more on the way, now is the time for IT leadership to take a close look at how they support company operations and what they can do to adapt for the future of the business.
Here are five common problems facing IT that threaten the success of transformation projects — and how IT can lead the way to solutions.
Threat #1: Zero Visibility Into Work And Activity
Work is happening throughout IT and across the business, but it’s nigh impossible to keep tabs on what’s happening, where and with whom. To provide visibility, it is essential for IT to create a single source of truth for work. I call this the operational system of record. This source of truth should house all strategic projects and initiatives. Status updates on these projects need to be kept in the context of this system of record to allow for dynamic, real-time reporting and avoid issues with version control (out-of-sync data).
Threat #2: Projects Are Late And Over Budget
Only about half of IT departments say they deliver on time and on budget. The growing number of support tickets and strategic transformation initiatives creates prioritization problems and bandwidth issues. Working more hours and hiring more people isn’t sustainable. Centralizing work initiatives, as noted above, allows for accurate prioritization and resource management. At this point, the stage is set for data-driven decision making and ongoing process refinement. This converts IT from a gatekeeper or taskmaster into a trusted business adviser.
Threat #3: Meetings And Emails Consume Your Day
A huge percentage of the workday is spent in meetings or working through administrative tasks and emails. This prevents us from focusing on the core work required to advance strategic projects. To create better focus on core work, IT can leverage its core competency — utilizing technology — to help teams prioritize value-add work. Unlike transactional work that easily fills the day, strategic work requires complex workflows that span teams and geographies.
Threat #4: Disconnected Systems Cause Data Silos
Most studies agree that knowledge workers spend 20%-25% of their time searching for data. This is a huge financial and talent waste, and a drag on productivity. IT must find ways to modernize and connect the tech stack. All tools and reporting need to integrate and synchronize to provide leadership with a comprehensive understanding of the business.
Threat #5: Workflows And Processes Do Not Scale
Our research shows that a third of knowledge workers say the biggest thing that would help them do more with less is instituting better processes. IT can help simplify and standardize processes in order to help them scale to enterprise work. This should involve an audit of current processes, as well as a reimagining of the business.
At the end of the day, the goal is to make work processes visible, understandable, standard and reproducible. The more they are automated, the better.
How To Begin
IT will need the following in order to begin the process of shifting perceptions of IT and demonstrating transformational leadership in the digital enterprise.
1. Active and engaged executive sponsors who can champion their efforts and clear roadblocks.
2. Continuous road map refinements to show their value to the business and create a framework for success.
3. A clear leadership opportunity that recognizes the department’s unique expertise and experience.
“Information technology and business are becoming inextricably interwoven. I don’t think anybody can talk meaningfully about one without talking about the other.” Bill Gates wrote those words in 1999. They have never been truer than they are today. And the IT organization is squarely in the middle of it all.