There’s so much talk about transformation today that it’s something that really needs no introduction within IT circles. Whether it’s business, digital or IT transformation that’s the on-trend term you’re being asked about by the board, initially, they all mean relatively similar things to IT teams.
The idea of transformation is what we’re going to pick apart in this blog. We will focus on transformation within the IT department as we believe that digital transformation (as an enterprise-wide activity) stems from technology decisions and the direction of the IT function, so it’s often intrinsically linked.
Your board will likely be interested in digital transformation and want to know what you, as an IT representative or budget holder, are doing to support it and make it happen. Our answer, which we’ll illustrate in slightly more words during this post, is that for digital transformation to happen, first of all, we need to look at revamping IT.
Before your business is allowed think about the innovation-focused projects like chatbots, AI and whatever else that’s set to change the workplace, your board must understand that IT has a process to go through in order to support this kind of activity. Taking away the buzzword, IT transformation is about saying...
“How does our business get from where we are today to where we want to be, and how does technology support this?”
Change is coming, and it’s nothing to be afraid of
Up front, it’s important to understand that IT transformation will mean lots of change. Technology is the engine room of modern business, which is something that enterprise IT teams and leaders are still adjusting to.
From departments that resist change to those that disrupt in their sleep, there’s a spectrum upon which IT functions sit. If you find yourself at the resistance end of the spectrum, it’s important to remember that the more that IT transforms, the more the business can, and for many businesses, transformation equals survival in the long term.
For some teams, when consultant-style buzzwords like IT transformation get thrown around, it can bring apprehension to staff about their future within your business. It must be communicated that transformation isn’t a process of reducing headcount and cutting costs, but getting prepared for the future and allowing your business to remain competitive in a changing world. Putting it bluntly, without transformation, everybody could well be out of a job.
Building the business case for IT transformation from within
Now we’re clear that transformation is nothing to be afraid of, it’s important that your IT team understand how and why transformation is happening, the specific benefits to their roles and what the transformation will ultimately look like, in easy to manage bites.
An obvious place to start that will help get people used to the process is by tackling on-prem hosted or backed up systems. While this was once the way the world worked, it simply isn’t effective to manage physical servers in-house. We could devote a whole post to the pros of migrating to the cloud, but this post provides further context should you want to take a look.
It’s this idea, though, that your people must get used to. Imagine what we could be doing as a team if we weren’t still firefighting the same issues and fixing the same old servers? Of course, before you begin migrating into the cloud, there must be a wider strategy in place that considers how your infrastructure will end up once migrated and modernised, but again that’s for a seperate blog.
In order to get your technical staff onside, even before a vision for this project has been created, start by getting an idea of what they would change about
- aspects of infrastructure
- the relationship between IT and the wider business
- processes, tools and methodologies
- how projects are handled and run *the direction of the department.
By involving the team from the outset, you can make the process more inclusive and less dictated, which should mean you can get a lot more value out of your team in the process. After all, they will all have ideas and bugbears to bring to the party.
Stop thinking about delivering technology
Something which often holds IT departments back from delivering value back to the business is the focus on delivering technology and implementing fixes rather than focusing on delivering a vision or a benefit.
The process of IT transformation is about removing all of the known underlying issues that face your technology in your business, but the benefit of doing this includes a blend of the following, depending on your situation...
- Better business alignment
- Improved access to applications
- Flexible and scalable infrastructure
- Controlled, predictive infrastructure costs
- Faster production cycle
- Respond faster to regulatory or industry changes
- Facilitate departmental integration and cohesion
- React faster to new projects and business ideas
- A better understanding of business data and what to do with it.
However, as the project process unfolds, its likely that you’ll uncover insights, come across issues and more that all should inform the project vision. Such a project can’t have a fixed vision, and its important that there’s flexibility built in in order to get the best result for the department and, in turn, the business.
The phrase vision is important in ensuring that this transformation project isn’t focused on delivering a piece or pieces of technology. A vision allows for a flexible goal that truly delivers what your business requires. Not only does this result in a better project, it also ensures that the end technology solution(s) in place to support the vision are flexible, as the tech would have handled various approaches and potential end visions during the project.
How the cloud assists in delivering a vision
Whether your company succeeds or fails in supporting the wider transformation of the business will rely on how effective your technology system is, and-in many ways-this boils down to how the cloud is utilised, and the willingness to explore how well all workloads and applications could be migrated to the cloud.
As aspects of your infrastructure are modernised and migrated to the cloud, they can be interconnected with existing public cloud, on-prem or MSP-hosted workloads as you go. As you make decisions and progress through modernisation, progress is shown at a high-level, through your cloud ecosystem and how it interacts with other aspects of technology.
Be clear with everyone involved about what you are trying to accomplish through modernisation and transformation, what processes and policies will be impacted and how they will change for the better, and how the change will happen, piece by piece. This is manageable change that keeps your teams in the loop and is done for the benefit of stakeholders, employees and clients alike.
The next time your board want to know what you’re doing about digital transformation
As we touched on at the start of this blog, in order to achieve digital transformation, IT must play catch up to begin with. If the board is making digital transformation a priority, the first activity must be to modernise IT. This is the case you must prepare and look to gain buy in for from the board. We will break this business case down in more detail in another blog (sign up to our fortnightly blog email to hear more about that soon), but this post will provide you with food for thought and some initial pointers in order to begin enabling your team and preparing for the project ahead.
If you’d like more insights and advice on building the business case for IT transformation that’s relevant to your company and specific situation, be sure to get in touch with us today.
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