There was once a time when IT was the “department of innovation”. IT held the keys to the technology and fearlessly led the way towards a tech-savvy future.
But that all changed. Technology quickly became mainstream and consumerized. You suddenly no longer needed to have a technical background to have success in using technology. Shadow IT became rampant in organizations and IT capabilities were soon taken for granted.
IT had either two choices: become a roadblock to the digital future or become a modern organization that continues to lead the way into a digital future.
Both the IT organization and the CIO role are evolving. Modern IT is here and it looks different than it did a few years ago. How can you be sure you’re leading a modern IT organization? Look for these signs!
1. You and your team make business cases for technology investments
The days of expecting CEOs and CFOs to simply invest in technology for technology’s sake are long gone. IT can no longer be a cost center. It has to drive value and in order for you to drive value, you have to understand business value.
Smart IT leaders are speaking the language of the business, framing their projects and objectives so that they fit that language and drive towards business goals. Additionally, modern CIOs are teaching their team members to do the same. It’s not enough for a CIO to be able to talk business value when it’s business as usual for the rest of IT.
Begin sharing with your team the business results of your different initiatives, use business terms, and highlight areas where your team is contributing to business results. Not only will this help strengthen your organization, but it will also help strengthen each individual team member. As the IT department and the CIO role shifts, so will the role of an IT professional. It will quickly become a requirement for every level of IT to understand and explain how they drive business value – so begin empowering your team with that now.
2. You collaborate with other departments
IT is no longer the sole keeper of technology. Technology is now part of every single department and your organization must keep up with it.
Many IT leaders focus on the “technology” part of their part but it’s important to remember that “I” at the front of IT stands for “information”. Modern IT organizations know that the “Information” is just as important as the “Technology” these days. Sharing information, collaborating with other departments, and improving interdepartmental communication is a priority for every modern CIO.
Cross-department collaboration may be more difficult for some CIOs, depending on the corporate culture and historical relationships between departments. However, as the Modern IT Leader, part of your mission is to facilitate this information-sharing for the good of the entire business.
If you find that IT is regularly left out of conversations or scrambling to catch up, you can start opening up those lines of dialogue by sharing your information. Be transparent about what IT is doing, and how it’s positively impacting the business. Sharing information should go both ways and if you open up that channel, you’ll advance into Modern IT Organization territory.
3. You focus on the end-user
The customer has always been king, but technology has resulted in a new set of customer expectations. In the past, organizations could deliver services in their own methods and at their own pace. Today, customers expect services to be delivered quickly, efficiently, and with continual communication.
For example, in the past, a customer would place an order for 100 sheets of paper with a salesperson. The salesperson would then bill the customer through the accounting department and then work with the fulfillment and shipping department to deliver the order. Each step would take several hours or even days. The customer would be in contact with the salesperson or would wait patiently for their order.
Today, you would never place an order and expect to wait 24 hours to receive an invoice, pay the invoice, and then wait several more days for confirmation of payment and several more days for confirmation of shipment.
Now, users expect to click a few buttons and immediately be able to make a purchase or receive support or information.
And what changed all of that? Technology. In the previous paradigm, IT had minimal touchpoints within the customer journey. Now, technology has enabled faster and more efficient delivery of services. This means modern IT departments must understand all the customer touchpoints and work with each department that handles those touchpoints to automate them and make them as streamlined and frictionless as possible.
4. Your frameworks and processes adjust to meet the needs of every initiative
Creating and implementing processes is a beloved IT tradition. Of course, it’s a tradition that IT will always need. But the difference between a traditional IT organization and a modern one is that IT processes can’t be set in stone any longer. You can no longer fit every initiative into rigid processes and unyielding frameworks.
The growth of technology, the ever-changing needs of users and the unpredictability of the digital world requires IT to be flexible with their service delivery. This doesn’t mean there’s no need for a process or structure. Every modern IT organization should have a set of frameworks or best practices that they can then adjust to fit the current initiative. Modern IT organizations keep their frameworks adaptable, agile and responsive.
5. You seek to enable instead of control
Perhaps the biggest hallmark of a modern IT organization is that it isn’t overly focused on having control. Modern CIOs recognize that the power of IT is that it can enable business value, solutions, efficiencies, and communication. Many traditional IT organizations and CIOs worry that they have lost control of technology, of their place at the table. When in reality, this shift into a digital future has made it easier for IT to enable innovation, change, and growth.
And guess what? This last point is a natural outcome of the first four signs. If your team is driving business value, collaborating, communicating, focusing on the end-user and adjusting frameworks to fit the solution, then you’re already enabling innovation. You’re already a modern IT organization.
The traditional ways of managing IT are out. It’s the modern era of IT and it just may be one of the most exciting ones yet.Share