IT Focus Area: cloud
March 23, 2016
The New Frontier of Enterprise IT Has Arrived: Are You Ready?
Editor's note: Sirius and Forsythe are now one company. Sirius acquired Forsythe in October 2017 and we are pleased to share their exceptional thought leadership with you.
Companies such as Uber, Lyft, HBO Go, Netflix, Expedia, and Airbnb have used technology to change their business, alter the market, and improve client experiences with brands.
Just a few years ago, you would have to call a taxi or stand outside waiting for one to show up; drive to a video rental store to get a movie; call hotels or airlines to make reservations; and contact your travel or real estate agent to find a rental home or vacation house.
How times have changed.
The financial industry is also getting a technology makeover and providing services such as mobile banking, Apple Pay, and Android Pay. All of these offerings have merged business and technology to give customers more options, and on-demand services.
With an around-the-clock business cycle and the 24/7 technology that supports it, the way we do business and interact with brands will never be the same.
How IT can stay relevant
In other words, software is the enterprise’s new brand.
If your apps don’t have at least as many features as your competitors’, your customers will turn elsewhere for greater convenience and better services.
To meet your customers’ needs for better, faster services, your applications and IT infrastructure development must be agile. At the same time, it must adhere to strict governance, compliance, and security policies.
These customer and business demands put IT at the forefront of the business. IT must drive purposeful business innovation — allowing your company to gain market share and increase revenue.
Enterprise IT must evolve or risk becoming irrelevant.
To evolve, enterprise IT must drive this paradigm shift by dealing with change head on or be left behind. Instead of blocking services, IT should enable new services.
Forward-thinking IT organizations are shifting from being cost centers to innovation centers.
IT is now developing new revenue streams.
And you don’t need to be a technology company to make this shift. It’s important for IT across all industries to drive business innovation for their companies.
Innovation and collaboration between IT and the business is the only way to continually convey the real business value of IT.
A good place to start is to tear down the wall between the IT organization and business units and figure out how to work in tandem. Find strategies that will allow IT initiatives and business goals to support each other. For example, you may want to create new business development and marketing roles within your IT organization to foster vision and align your business and technical strategies. Collaboration like this can better position your enterprise to stay ahead of the curve and blast past your competitors.
5 areas enterprise IT must focus on
The future of enterprise IT boils down to five key concepts.
1. Business driven
Business—not the technology—should drive your IT projects.
IT can’t just build something for technology’s sake.
If this happens, the business will ask: Why are we investing in this technology? Or, what value does it bring us? The art lies in partnering with the business to execute IT initiatives in such a way that these questions aren’t even necessary.
IT leaders should have strategic discussions with other executives to clarify business goals. Then, IT leaders and the IT organization can suggest solutions that will help the business achieve these goals. When this happens, the business will have an “aha” moment and understand the business value that IT brings to the table.
IT must create a business innovation strategy. The strategy should include regular reviews to ensure that as the business’ objectives change, IT also changes. Staying relevant is about focusing on business functions that matter.
IT often puts too much effort into parts of the business that aren’t mission critical. It’s easy to say yes to everything, but sometimes, you need to say no.
Just as it’s important to focus on the right projects, it’s even more important to suspend IT initiatives that aren’t appropriate. For example, the chief marketing officer (CMO) should give up tech projects that don’t serve specific customer segments. Meanwhile, the chief information security officer (CISO) should cut technologies that don’t meet enterprise security standards.
Key Takeaway: Relevance is about aligning with the business to help it achieve its core goals.
2. Rapid change
There are two aspects to dealing with change: technology and culture.
You need to put the right mechanisms in place, so you can anticipate these changes and be proactive (without sacrificing quality or security). For example, it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been serving customers if your app constantly crashes. In today’s on-demand world, customers will quickly trade brand loyalty for a working app.
IT must quickly respond to change so it can deliver competitive products. If IT doesn’t do this, the business will see you as a laggard—not as the forward-thinking partner that it needs.
Millennials are another part of the changing corporate landscape. As your future chief information officers (CIOs) and chief executive officers (CEOs), they understand that if the enterprise doesn’t change now, it won’t be relevant in the future. The workplace needs to keep pace with technological and business changes to retain top talent.
Change is not only about preparing for the future, it’s also about anticipating needs throughout the enterprise. For example, what keeps your CMO up at night? How can IT create a solution to help them? How can you innovate to make your business model better?
Key takeaway: Relevance is about driving change at the pace of business.
3. Open approach
We live in a world where interoperability is essential. To be agile, you must seamlessly integrate the architectural layers of apps, technology, and infrastructure.
On the technology side, appreciate what didn’t work in the past and learn from it. For example, don’t make your vendors’ capabilities your requirements. Your requirements should come from your use cases. Then, find a solution that supports your company’s needs.
A solution is not a point product, but an answer to a business problem.
Openness is also about collaboration with your customers and across your organization. For example, you can’t act like a monopoly that drives customer behavior; it should be other way around. Have an open dialogue with your customers to learn what you’re doing right and what you need to improve. Also collaborate with your colleagues to discuss their challenges, hear their perspectives, and learn how IT can support them.
Key takeaway: Relevance is about fostering an open, collaborative environment.
4. Continual innovation
Innovation happens by design and, occasionally, by accident.
Enterprise IT should foster both formal and accidental grassroots innovation. For example, an enterprise can create an environment that drives collaboration across different groups. When you do this, new ideas are more likely to emerge — whether in formal meetings or around the water cooler.
We are wired to think about problems from our own perspectives, depending upon the domains we usually work with. However, when we speak with people who have different problems, we can get new ideas and be more creative.
Key Takeaway: Relevance is about creating an environment of exciting, continual innovation.
2016 is the year of relevance for enterprise IT. As you can tell from the previous concepts, staying relevant is the underlying key to keeping with the next frontier of IT.
Relevance requires IT leaders to constantly ask: Why is enterprise IT here?
By asking this question, IT leaders can ensure that all of the initiatives for IT align with what matters to your company.
After all, if your company doesn’t see the relevance of IT, it will move services out to cheaper, faster vendors.
Enterprise IT should show how it is relevant by exercising the four aspects outlined earlier.
Key Takeaway: Relevance is about staying in the business of IT.
The next generation of enterprise IT
IT organizations that focus on better serving your company and your customers will be more likely to succeed. They will stay relevant by becoming an essential partner to the business.
Is your IT ready for the next frontier?
If not, the first thing you must do is align IT with your company’s requirements. Then, develop a strategy to meet these requirements. Alignment with your company is key to staying relevant. Process and technology can follow.