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The Digital IT Function of the Future

Written by Kuldip Sandhu, Managing Director, Innovative Quality Solutions

The business environment for the future will be characterised by even more dynamic working practices, boundless agility and rapid time to market. The Digital IT Function will be shaped dramatically by these changes. We combined our industry knowledge with the views of our clients to create a picture of the digital IT function of the future:

1. Strategy

Due to the changes above, IT will preside over technology that directly impacts the experience of the customer (internal as well as external), as well as the business’s ability to make more informed decisions. Therefore, two changes will happen at the strategy level.

One, the business will treat IT as a value generator rather than an overhead.

Two, as digital begins to influence business strategy as well as IT, the IT function will have to adopt a more business savvy approach to the development of its own strategy. This will probably be aligned to the appointment of a CDO (Chief Digital Officer).

2. Structure

The IT function will serve two distinct and contrasting purposes; to ‘keep the lights on’ in relation to current services, and to rapidly deliver innovative IT services to meet changing business and user needs and leverage new technologies.
To do this, the IT function will be structured differently. The more traditional function will be relatively much smaller, as most applications and infrastructure will be outsourced. Innovation Management Teams will provide the ability to assess and adopt new technology seamlessly.

3. Governance

The traditional IT function will become more devolved. The central IT function will have less control as operational and business intelligence software drive efficiencies across the enterprise, resulting in different, decentralised governance structures.

Operating in a two-mode state – finding the optimum balance between agility and innovation, and stability and security – will be paramount.

4. Systems

There will be considerably fewer legacy systems managed by the IT department of the future, as these typically cause unwanted risks and issues and take up valuable time and resources to maintain. What can be moved to the cloud will be; other departments might use an ‘app store’ to purchase or access applications from the cloud.

The tolerance to failure will be lower and a ‘fail-fast’ approach to new systems will prevail. Agile development and rapid change will be the key to ensuring success in a digital world.

5. Style

The IT department will work closely with the business and be more friendly, open and collaborative. IT will demonstrate leadership, showing the business new ways to solve problems and identify new opportunities. The department will be empowered to say “yes”, overcoming the barriers that would have once prevented objectives from being achieved.

6. Staff

The IT team will have a much smaller headcount than ever before. Staff will be friendly and approachable with good social skills; exceptional technical acumen will not be enough in the new environment. The rest of the business will have more awareness and will be represented by individuals that are increasingly more comfortable with a high rate of change.

7. Skills

IT will have business support and project delivery skills at its disposal. The team will consist of ‘innovation people’ with a mix of technical know-how and business and customer understanding. They will be able to sell new ideas to the business and manage both business and systems change through data-driven insight and analytics. Skills in manipulating and analysing data sets through technology tools will be the norm.

How the IT function must adapt to meet the changing demands of its stakeholders in a digital world will be covered in my third and final blog post.

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