It’s not a secret that the IT department and the CIO have been going through an increasing pressure to focus more on how technology can support the business better.
Saying that IT didn’t do so before would be generalizing. However, it can’t be ignored that things have changed and that there are perception gaps as there are evolutions in the roles, the expectations, the approaches and the organizational views.
Furthermore, the attention is moving from the technology and operational dimension to the “information” aspect of IT and, probably more important, to how information (and technology) supports the business and the stakeholders, from customers to employees and partners.
The transactional, business and stakeholder perspective
To succeed in an end-to-end way, technology, the ‘T’ of IT, obviously remains crucial, as do operations. Without a decent infrastructure, security approach, (increasingly hybrid and cloud-based) networks and performing systems, digital business simply fails.
Some analysts see the need to, in a sense, split up the various roles of IT: more operations-related and more business-oriented. Maybe reversing the view and looking at IT from the business goal, the transaction perspective, the process and the stakeholder is the best way to tackle it. Each business process needs multiple layers enabling it, all the way down to the cables, servers and processing power that all might look like commodities but do matter, even if they increasingly become ‘invisible’.
It’s this need to support the business goals across all those layers, while optimizing the elements needed to enable them, that has led to many ‘new’ phenomena.
Think for instance about the increasing importance of Business Transaction Management that started a few years ago. To give IT an end-to-end insight into each ‘granular’ step of a business transaction across distributed systems and technologies to monitor and intervene fast when and where needed. Or in other words: to make the business transaction succeed (and not lose business).
It’s also the reason why in Enterprise Content Management, systems of records do matter a lot and we see many evolutions in the market, for instance to a more end-to-end approach here as well. Would it be a coincidence that this same end-to-end view trumps in customer experience management?
Putting the value of information at work is crucial and there is this shift in attention towards the systems of engagement dimension. But you can’t engage or create value with information and data if it isn’t properly managed. You can’t guarantee a successful and smooth business transaction if you don’t have an end-to-end view of each little step across your systems – and the potential flaws.
Digital transformation requires IT and information excellence
As organizations and entire industries are going through digital transformations, it’s even more important to get the essence of how we capture, manage, store and process information right. And it’s even more important to get the essence of IT excellence right.
Choosing innovative and scalable solutions with the necessary built-in intelligence and connectivity is part of it. Making sure you get the right data in and guaranteeing data quality is another aspect. “Knowing” where the information sits and ensuring a fast, reliable and ubiquitous access to it (human, automated), along with uptime and availability, is a last example of how crucial that excellence is for the business.
The agility, speed and ability to innovate that is required in today’s digital business and in the ways we work, interact with stakeholders and serve customers, requires innovative approaches in how we deal with information in this sense of quality, availability etc. across the whole lifecycle of documents, data and content too.
Innovation, transformation and IT excellence: everyone’s responsibility
In a previous post on the role of information in digital transformation I added a visual representation of a digital capability framework and focused on the digital transformation goals.
However, the image also contains three critical digital transformation enablers. If you look closer, you’ll notice none of them belong to a specific department or are solely reserved for the business side or the more ‘technological’ dimension of IT operations. Let’s take a look.
The creation of an innovation capability within the organization and its ecosystem is the creation of a process that is collaborative and requires a close coordination between IT and all involved business divisions. Just as businesses need to innovate and are disrupted by others that innovate, innovation is a key priority for IT, the CIO and information managers. Not just as a business goal but also in the ways we deal with technology systems, partners, processes, innovations, stakeholders, information and so on.
The ability to transform, adapt, change and – using the predictive capabilities brought upon us by artificial intelligence and Big Data analytics – to pro-act is connected, integrated and collaborative by definition. At the very core of digital transformation projects is the capability to align across divisions and functions to strive towards a common goal.
Information technology and information management don’t belong to just the IT department anymore. We all know it. Just think about the whole BT (Business Technology) evolution. We also know that the main buyers of technology are coming from outside the IT department and that there is a lot of shadow IT going on. Think about the consumerization in the file sharing and syncing space, for instance. However, IT excellence is also a shared responsibility. Without getting the essence of excellence right, a digital business transformation project simply fails. IT has to watch over IT excellence, information managers play a role but also the buyers of IT solutions from other divisions must realize they need to work closely together with IT, who are both supporters of the business and carry the end responsibility for operations and performing process enablers.
End-to-end: the need of alignment and collaboration
In more than one sense it’s time we stop overemphasizing the difference between the ‘IT side’ and the ‘business side’ as if they were two (or more) islands.
True, there are gaps, not everything is aligned as it should but we can say the exact same thing about other departments too. Just think about the alignment between sales, marketing and customer service, to give one example. How often are they truly aligned? Instead of focusing on the gaps, closing them might be a better idea. And looking at some collaborations (e.g. between CMO and CIO) we do see improvements.
The core discussions we need to have are about overall and end-to-end business and stakeholder excellence. Organizations that are able to have those and act upon the insights they deliver by having an end-to-end approach on the role of technology, information, transactions, processes, operations, people and outcomes in a collaborative way, will make the difference.
We wrote about the need to think about information management in a more holistic (i.e. end-to-end) way earlier.
It’s as AIIM’s Atle Sjekkeland recently said from the solutions perspective: there is a growing demand for end-to-end solutions because if the business side sees the problem and wants to have it solved, their interest is not to go out and try to find different components to do so. They want a solution to their problem.
And that involves everyone – and most of all a solid collaboration with a common goal in mind.