Digital transformation is impacting on businesses across every industry.
While the ownership and implementation of digital transformation can be inconsistent, it is more often than not owned by CIOs. A part of this process is digital initiatives, the majority of which are driven (and paid for) by IT. Despite this, the IT department is not the most likely to lead the implementation of digital projects. Instead, these are conducted by individual business units or digital divisions. As a result, many executives both in IT and across other teams, feel that IT department needs to take a more active role in transformation particularly when it comes to innovation.
With digital technologies now driving innovation, the IT department plays an integral role in adoption integration and execution. In fact, by 2018, 35% of IT resources will be spent to support the creation of new digital revenue streams, while 2020 will see almost half of IT budgets tied to digital transformation initiatives. So, how can IT work more efficiently and effectively to drive transformation?
By 2020 there will be 50 billion internet-enabled devices which to create an interconnected ‘Internet of Things’ - Cisco IBSG
Adopt new technologies early
To drive a forward thinking and innovative organization, your business - and workforce - needs to know, and understand, the new technologies on the horizon, as well as how, or if, they can help to transform the business as a whole.
Technology adoption typically occurs in an S-curve , with exponential growth from ‘early adopters’. While it took it took more than 70 years for telephones to reach 50% household penetration, radio took 28 years while the internet took just a decade. As a result, the rate of technology adoption should continue to accelerate so that each new technology outpaces the adoption of its predecessor.
One example of IT driving early adoption of technology is through automation, a tactic that can drastically reduce costs, and free up revenue for reinvestment in technology. By combining automation, AI and machine learning to process claim adjustments, healthcare software company TriZetto saved 44% compared to manual administration. In the banking sector, Blue Prism uses automated 14 core processes and achieved a typical 30% cost saving per process and improving service quality and accuracy.
As the digital economy continues to evolve it drives technology innovation. This brings with it a future founded on platforms and algorithms, 'things' and 'bots' to generate revenue and efficiency.
Drive digital leadership
56% of executives believe that a lack of digital leadership to define a clear and concise strategy is as one of the key barriers when it comes to delivering an improved customer experience through digital transformation.
As the world migrates to a digital mindset and consumers become savvier, it's the responsibility of organizations to ensure they cultivate digital leaders across the workforce, particularly in marketing and IT departments - the driving force behind a brand's evolution and progress in the modern age.
At its core, the IT department can drive digital leadership by helping internal departments prepare for digital transformation, promote cross-departmental fluency in digital technologies, help encourage individuals to develop digital competencies, and instilling a willingness to experiment.
By harnessing the power of emerging digital technologies to help key members of the marketing department understand how to transform big data into decisions that improve business performance, the IT department can promote digital leadership and as a result, drive the business forward.
Match the Pace of Digital
In many organizations, there is a mismatch between the turnaround times required to achieve marketing initiatives and the capabilities of IT. Traditionally, IT departments have been involved in large-scale projects that require months or even years to complete.
This ‘tried and tested' approach poses a huge challenge in the department’s interaction within the business, as the pace of digital technologies now requires agile projects to be delivered in sprints of just two weeks.
As time goes on, IT will need to be able to provide rapid showcases to demonstrate project progress. This will be achieved as more digital natives join organizations to bring a ‘Twitter mentality’ to IT, which demands faster and more visible project progress and updates.
The raft of new digital technologies presents tremendous opportunities for experimentation. Whether it’s using a new app or automation system that can make workstreams more aligned and processes easier.
For example, in a nationwide initiative to use digital technologies to assist with an overstretched workforce, the NHS introduced the Google DeepMind AI app to help treat its patients more efficiently.
The collaboration between Google and the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust is being rolled out in certain hospitals in the UK to help improve blood analysis and alert carers if a patient is at risk of kidney failure.
This initiative is set to save time, money, and ultimately help save lives and although its early stages, this is a prime example of an organization embracing digital experimentation to help improve its service.
Collaborate with other departments
While IT may be at the heart of digital services, there is also a need for collaboration with other customer-facing teams within the business. With digital disruption a constant threat, 78% of executives say their IT and marketing teams could be better aligned to deliver on their digital transformation efforts.
In fact, marketing and customer service professionals are already staking claims to leadership roles within digital transformation projects alongside IT by expanding their technical knowledge and using it to assist with their strategic efforts while using data and consumer behaviour trends to improve the way they interact with their customers.
93% of organizations that have strategically coordinated their digital initiatives are more effective compared to 63% who have not implemented a cross-departmental strategy. By working across the businesses and using a host of talents, insights, data, and technologies, a business can gain a competitive edge and really engage with their target audience.
“If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” – Henry Ford
Invest in talent
Access to the right expertise in addition to the ability to hire the right people at the right time is becoming a huge competitive differentiator for businesses.
Enterprises pursuing digital transformation initiatives will more than double the size of their developer resources by 2018, focusing new hires almost entirely on digital initiatives. Digital skills including mobile app development, analytics, and design initiatives will become the new standard for software development.
In a landscape of digital disruption, employees that have knowledge on the latest trends and a foundation of analytics are in huge demand due to the value they bring to a business.In addition, professionals with a strong strategy and planning skill set will drive the optimum use of technologies and enable collaboration across departments.
Although Ford has been around for decades, the company fell behind in branding and innovation, becoming a fusty, outdated outfit that belonged to a bygone era. To rectify this perception by customers and the sector, the company reinvented itself to be an evolved, technologically advanced super brand through savvy marketing and key advancements led by emerging technologies.
The company's brand new Ford SYNC technology has transformed the company, turning heads worldwide and securing Ford a place in the front seat of a prosperous digital future. They achieved this by streamlining the IT department. Through re-organization, the company saved millions of dollars and used those resources to create new opportunities to support growth, development, drive internal efficiency, and enable collaboration.
As a result, Ford transformed itself from a company on the brink of failure by harnessing the power of IT and using it to fuel their new company initiatives.
Essentially, by improving company-wide alignment, streamlining internal processes, and harnessing the power of digital tools, data and platforms, while adopting a forward thinking mindset, a company can reinvent itself, remain competitive, and branch out to a host of brand new prospects.
IT plays a central role in digital transformation. And, those that integrate IT into their digital marketing efforts, stay ahead of ever-evolving digital trends, and take an agile, collaborative approach to the way in which they work will reap the rewards in the long run.