by Tony Harris
• December 21, 2020
As organizations embrace digital transformation, the IT industry has had to change along with it. Expectations are high for the potential effects of implementing new and emerging technologies and organizations are competing to keep pace. With this desire for rapid change, IT managers have been faced with mounting pressure to adopt tools, process and models of digital business as part of enterprise digital transformation initiatives. In order to do so effectively, many have had to re-engineer internal IT operations to accommodate and meet the demands of the business.
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According to Forbes, almost 50% of IT budgets will be tied to digital transformation initiatives in 2020. The role of the IT department has to become more active for innovation but how can they work to lead transformation? In this article we’ll discuss the following measures IT managers can focus on in ensuring successful digital transformation:
Adopting Tech EarlyDriving Digital LeadershipRapid Delivery and DeploymentClose CollaborationInvestment in Talent
While it may seem like a risk to implement too early, if new and emerging technologies align with the strategic opportunities and goals of the organization, IT should lead the charge in demanding that change.
Early adopters can even shape the development of the technology. By establishing a close relationship with the tech builders, the IT department can provide valuable feedback to influence the direction of the product, bringing to light a better understanding of the problems the technology should address and could solve for.
Pushing for early adoption also comes with a significant competitive advantage too. While others in the industry will be left scrambling to implement, IT can work to solve the early kinks of the product. A study by Harvard Business Review found that early adopters experience “first-mover advantage” and are more likely to lead in both revenue growth and market position.
The executive team needs a clear and definitive strategy to develop digital leadership. It’s critically important to the success of implementing transformational technology that the organization identifies its internal leaders. Cultivating those leaders in the IT department is only going to speed up progress.
IT will act as the internal champion for new technologies and can help internal departments prepare for digital transformation. They can act as trainers and facilitators to promote cross-departmental competency and can lead by example in accepting the notion of change.
Updating skills and creating a culture that is more receptive to change and risk will elevate every digital capability. IT leaders should focus on building skills in data management, analytics and customer-centricity.
To ensure technology enables current and future business needs, the organization’s executive team should work to make IT a core component of the business workflow and strategic planning. In particular, the IT manager has a central role, as part of digital transformation, in facilitating this outcome.
Digital technologies move at a rapid pace. Some of these projects are to be delivered in mere weeks with minimal sprints requiring IT teams to become more agile in their approach. In order to establish baselines for progress, IT teams must move to a model of showcasing rapid development and project progress.
Success begins with defining the approach to identify roadblocks from the onset and establishing clear communication lines to prioritize challenges. Incorporating agile development practices that accommodate for uncertainty and changing requests can also help keep the IT team ahead of schedule.
Relying on technical capability is no longer adequate for IT organizations to remain strategically valuable. IT has to serve as an agile and nimble part of the organization that can respond to competitive disruption and rapidly evolving internal and external expectations.
IT may perform the heavy lifting to deliver technological advancements but true digital transformation is far more than just the implementation of a new system. It requires an alternative way of working across silos and a chance to reorient other departments’ views towards IT.
Some projects may require IT to play more of an influencer role shaping the direction of the project or even as a bystander where they share technical expertise but true project leadership falls under another department. Using data and insights gleaned from other teams, businesses ultimately gain a competitive edge.
Cross-team collaboration is becoming an essential tool for all departments in this digital age. With demands on IT team resources increasing, being able to scale a project team up and down by collaborating with other departments offers a more agile approach. As a leader within the organisation, the IT manager should play an active role in fostering this collaboration, especially in the pursuit of digital transformation programs.
Building the right IT team is also crucial to ramping up efforts in digital tech. Access to specific expertise and skills including data management, front and back end development, as well as cloud specialists and system integrators have become necessary for accelerated transformation.
When digital disruption is the norm, employees that have knowledge on the latest trends and a foundation of analytics are in tremendous demand because of the value they bring to a business. A team of professionals with sound strategy and planning skill sets will also drive the optimum use of technologies and help bridge the communication gap across other departments.
Transformation begins within and organizations that focus on improving company-wide alignment to unleash the power of digital tools will be at the forefront of revolution. The people in the IT organization are driving business value and the success of digital transformation relies on organizations to be forward-thinking in their approaches to the technologies and processes that enable those people to make progress.
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