IT Teams: Are you Sitting on Untapped Potential?

IT Ideas

Often some of the most able, educated and creative talent in an organisation lies in the I.T. team yet they are not brought in at an early stage to help drive strategic change. Why not?

The Snapshot

  • Senior Management teams need to harness the talent within their IT Depts. and to enable IT personnel to act as partners in the change process.
  • I.T. professionals should be “managing projects, not maintaining hardware”.
  • SaaS solutions can facilitate the outsourcing of tactical, technical support duties.

I.T. Spend and Productivity Gain…or Fail?

New technologies in business bring with them an expectation of improved productivity. Yet it’s interesting to discover that employees believe that the reality is very different.  In fact recent research shows that while companies target productivity gains of up to 20%, the majority of staff, 61%, believe I.T. is ineffective at helping them to work more efficiently or at reducing their workload.

IT infographic

Source CEB

So what’s the answer – with so much dynamism in the market, how can companies harness technologies effectively to drive productivity and to compete successfully in this changing landscape? And why aren’t they?

A recent report by McKinsey suggests the Top 10 IT-enabled business trends for the years ahead. The report discusses how Big Data and Advanced Analytics are enabling companies to respond to market needs and that ultimately this will help managers to make better business decisions-leading to new business models and improved productivity. In order to optimise the opportunities presented by the 10 trends outlined, it recommends that senior executives should focus their attention on the following issues:

Transparent and Innovative Business Models

  • Rapid response to customer demand will need to become a core competency.

Talent

  • The automation of jobs currently undertaken by knowledge workers will place more value on people with higher skills, therefore training will become a critical priority.

Organisation

  • With increasing connectedness, companies will need to embrace more non-hierarchical organisational forms, which is likely to boost innovation and productivity.

Privacy and Security

  • Protection of data and solid security management practices will become a core customer requirement and will be central to an organisations reputation.

We strongly recommend that you check out the full article by McKinsey as you’ll recognise that many of the trends are becoming a reality already and it’s a heads-up for those who seek to become a pace-setter in their sector.

However what’s also interesting about this study is that it emphasises the need for up skilling of IT resources in the future and the central role that IT will take in developing new business models. And if you’re in IT Project Management right now, you’ll see that your skills are likely to become even more valuable in the future.

All of this points to the need for a change in thinking in terms of the role of the IT Dept. within organisations. Central to this change is the requirement to free-up IT specialists from support roles so that they can take on full managerial responsibility to drive change-with time to investigate new technologies and options which could re-invent the business model.

SaaS delivers Thinking Time for I.T. Project Managers

The growth of Software as a service (SaaS) is a welcome development and it may transform the way in which internal I.T. Depts. operate. By accessing cloud based software applications that don’t require in-house I.T. support, some experts believe that organisations will now be in a position to shift their thinking in terms of the function of the in-house I.T. team.

As organisations re-organise IT resources around end-to-end business needs, simpler tasks can be outsourced and the internal team can be up-skilled to work more collaboratively and to think more analytically, and according to CEB 97% of IT staff will be effected by this change. IT budgets, up to 60%, are then likely to shift towards projects that can deliver real productivity gains.

infographic

Source CEB

With Saas as an option, it’s worth asking the question “What’s the most useful work we could get our I.T. team to deliver?”. The answer is likely to lie in strategic thinking and inventive business solutions. By outsourcing support services through SaaS solutions companies have the opportunity to really make the most of the talent within.

Talent Scout Your I.T. Team

This consideration of the value of internal resources from a strategic perspective is a good first step towards disruption and true innovation. The key is to harness this disruptive thinking so that you produce a re-designed IT function that can partner with the company on its strategic growth curve.

As part of this process you’ll need to assess how the business objectives can be both supported and informed by external I.T. developments as well as internal IT expertise.

A good example of this sort of transition is highlighted in this article. The article focuses on how a global shipping company called AmeriJet had to reorganise their I.T. work processes in order to dramatically expand the size of their organisation.

Some of the steps that Amerijet conducted during this process included:

  • Outsourcing of non-essential I.T. operations
  • Most applications were moved to the cloud
  • A more project focused I.T. Dept. was created

Amerjet is a company that operates on a global scale, but there are still important lessons that can be taken from this case study for companies operating on a more micro scale. One of the clear benefits of outsourcing I.T. functions and responsibilities is that it allows the in-house I.T. staff more time to focus on project management- avoiding the wasted time that tactical support can so easily bleed away, day-in-day-out.

For Amerjet, this innovation was driven by the company’s Senior Director of Technology and Information Services, Jennifer Torlone. Speaking about one of the most important changes made during the process, Torlone commented that “what emerged through the process was a newly-organized and newly-focused IT group that spends its time on managing projects rather than maintaining hardware”.

The Way Ahead for I.T. Talent

Game Changer for IT

Via iStock

While the growth in SaaS options will facilitate change, organisations need to plan their approach carefully and consider how to introduce these changes for best effect.

The Corporate Executive Board offers advice and support to leading multinational organisations and it has identified the following five areas as being topics of popular concern;

  • Building a strategic workforce Plan
  • Identifying and developing I.T. talent
  • Developing business engagement skills
  • Supporting knowledge work
  • Creating strategic roadmaps

This reflects the changing nature of I.T. roles and the need to plan a way forward. It emphasises the move towards a vision of the I.T. team working in a more effective and inter-connected way within organisation.

Need Guidance?

At Daysha Consulting we have in-depth experience of working with clients to harness IT expertise so that you can implement effective strategic change. From integrating innovation and design thinking into your project processes, to looking at more effective ways to deploy your resources, we can help. Call today to discuss your requirements. We look forward to talking with you.

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