Ready for the digital age? 5 key shifts your IT function needs to make

by Samit Chandra

The role of IT has dramatically changed – gone are the days of its remit being to oversee small computing projects inhouse; today’s IT function is now a key innovation driver company-wide. Given it is a crucial contributor to business success, organisations have since evolved to either implement centralised in-house IT powerhouses or outsource projects to maximise efficiencies.

Thanks to digital disruption, tech-savvy customers are also demanding a more consistent experience from enterprises, with a major emphasis on personalisation and flexibility. This creates mounting pressure on businesses to stay ahead of the customer’s adoption curve, necessitating a buffer that gives them the flexibility and time to align their people, processes and technology to customers’ evolving preferences.

As a result, we are seeing several trends emerging in this space among businesses that are needing to push themselves up the curve and meet the expectations of the market. These include IT budgets being shifted to business, joint accountability of systems ownership between business and IT, and an increasing focus on cyber security. Unfortunately, though, many organisations are still hindered by the complexity of their technology systems and processes. Business leaders are often ill-equipped to make technology trade-offs, and scars from previous ‘silver bullet’ implementations tend to lead to scepticism about how new platforms will impact employee and customer experience.

Although there may be many reasons as to why certain technology projects fail, the reality is that there is a common denominator which leads to their demise: the blurred line that exists between IT and business. So how do businesses tackle this problem and provide customers with the experience they deserve, and avoid frustration along the way?

1. IT strategy should be on the executive agenda

Poor buy-in from business leaders leads to poor employee and customer experience. This is because the frontline ends up juggling multiple departmental silo-based interfaces and complex processes. To combat this common pitfall, IT strategy and its execution roadmap should form an integral part of the corporate strategy supporting customer experience, rather than merely leaving IT to operate on the outskirts.

2. Digital should be separate from IT, and owned by business functions

Organisations often fall into the trap of than quibbling over the ‘Chief Information Officer’ versus the ‘Chief Digital Officer’ title and where it resides, rather than focusing their attention on their digital agenda and what is required to achieve it. The digital function needs to be separated from IT operations, to enable enhanced innovation and agility from both customers and customer-facing functions. The digital functions that seek to enable people, process and technology should be owned by customer-facing business functions. IT can then play a partnership role to further enable them by improving the performance of core systems, data, and application integration. However, it’s worth noting that this integration of responsibilities will only be effective if both the business and IT functions have high calibre leaders, with a strong understanding of both business needs and IT capabilities.

3. Enterprise Architecture should be a business function, with a link into the IT Architecture function

Enterprise Architecture has historically been an IT-driven function and perceived as a road-block, rather than a business enabler. Traditional enterprise architects have strong technical capabilities, leading to a process-based approach, which lacks the agility, flexibility and speed necessary for customer facing functions. By dedicating enterprise architects with business mindsets to each business line – with a common forum to collaborate with IT – enterprise architecture can play a strong influencing and decision-making role to move businesses towards a digital economy.

4. Business should own data and analytics, supported by IT database administration

With analytics strategy being a key input into IT strategy and digital direction, organisations are now appointing a ‘Chief Data Officer’ to shift away from IT operations towards business. This role needs to be empowered with clear objectives and KPIs, which must specify the need for support from IT. Data governance for each key data domain should also be owned by a business representative, from the ownership of data quality to managing the life cycle of data; from acquisition to retention or disposal.

5. Commercial and vendor management for customer facing systems should be under corporate commercial management

IT vendor management has always been a specialised function due to its unique complexity. Aligning commercial and vendor management under one business function will consolidate all vendor management functions and their associated skills, knowledge and business oversight, enabling a clearer understanding of the needs of the rest of the organisation. Through this one centralised function, it will then be easier to establish business goals with clearly defined parameters, select the best customer-facing platform, and manage partners to meet business strategic objectives consistently.


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To effectively handle the blurred lines between IT and business functions, businesses need to include IT strategy in their executive agenda, understand the right balance between business function ownership with IT enablement, and centralise commercial and vendor management. This will enable organisations to provide the desired flexible, personalised and consistent customer experience, and thrive in today’s digital economy.

To learn more about our insights into the changing role of digital and its implications on organisations, read more here.