- 1 Taking your IT contributions to the next level
Taking your IT contributions to the next level.
Digital transformation: the new status quo.
Across industries, leaders are prioritizing digital transformation to advance their business. Technology is often at the heart of this strategic imperative, but at the end of the day, its purpose is to enable teams across an organization to come together to deliver seamless customer experiences. Fueled by data and driven by digital, these experiences can quickly evolve as customer needs change.
Companies know they need to invest in their IT infrastructure and IT teams to keep up with—and surpass—the global pace of digital transformation. This is also a pivotal moment for IT professionals to establish themselves as leaders in this transformation.
That’s why we spoke with over 120 IT professionals across seven countries, from service and support to C-suite executives, on topics ranging from day-to-day activities to the future of IT.
Combining our learnings and industry experience, we found three areas of expertise IT professionals need to consider to up-level their contributions and advance in their careers:
• Understand the trends driving business transformation
• Adopt key behaviors of today’s transformation leaders
• Embrace professional transformation
No matter where you are in your career, you’ll want to learn more about these topics to elevate your role and maximize your impact.
Digital maturity is a state in which a company is realizing the benefits of digital transformation by continually revolutionizing its business. A digitally mature organization has done more than just automate and digitize its processes—it has adopted a state of constant change, continually updating its operations and reorganizing its business around the next generation of digital tools to enhance its relationships with customers.1
The trends behind business transformation.
Keeping the lights on is just a sliver of the job in today’s IT environment. In addition to supporting essential services, IT professionals must understand the C-suite’s vision for business transformation, then identify the right technologies to activate that vision. Whether innovating customer experiences, defining go-to-market strategies, or reinventing the employee experience, IT plays a critical role in delivering game-changing value.2
Leaders who are propelling their business forward are coupling technical and business expertise to disrupt traditional operating models. They are actively tapping innovations in cloud, big data, artificial intelligence (AI), and the Internet of Things (IoT).
Making the most of these investments doesn’t happen in isolated silos. Successful teams unite to ensure they’re collecting the right types and volumes of data, across digital and physical sources. That data needs to be complete, accurate, and stored securely, whether on on-premises servers or in the cloud.
Data becomes an invaluable asset for an organization. Teams will use machine learning and AI to analyze and enrich that data. They’ll draw actionable insights that fuel innovation, growth, and competitive advantage for their organization—ultimately shifting their position from service center (a cost) to intelligence center (a driver of innovation and growth).
Understanding digital transformation.
Digital transformation is the utilization of digital technology across all aspects of a business to better meet customers’ needs and create a new, sustainable, competitive advantage in today’s digital economy. It is more than just a buzz work; it’s tangible organizations have organizational shift that is redefining the role of IT leaders and the contributions of IT departments across the globe. While some organizations have more readily embraced this transformation that others, all would be remiss to view this transformation as a onetime change. Digital transformation is instead an ongoing evolution in digital innovation, where constant change has become the new status quo.3
Successful IT teams understand how to use these technologies to impact business goals. But this isn’t an undertaking for a single functional group. IT teams collaborate with stakeholders across departments to home in on the business challenges, then identify and evaluate solutions that will solve them. They also look out for implementation, budget, and integration requirements, bringing their well-honed IT service chops to the table.
But even beyond the traditional scope of IT, these teams are keeping their eye on the prize: the customer. By asking themselves, “Is this right for my customer?” they ensure continued alignment with business goals. Leaders in particular play the role of customer advocate and team cheerleader. They keep customers top-of-mind with their teams and bridge departments to ensure everyone understands—and is focused on—the big picture.
Growth in global IT spending.4
A look at today’s transformation leader.
While IT is a key driver of business transformation, we found that the most successful digital transformation leaders have a broad range of experience that provides them with a well-rounded perspective. IT teams benefit from developing their marketing and sales acumen and recruiting cross-disciplinary expertise, in addition to continuing to hone their technical skills. This is because the three core capabilities for transformation rely on a champions’ ability to do the following:
• Create and communicate an innovation vision capturing adtech, martech and experience tech
• Couple strong communication skills with a collaborative, outcome-oriented approach
• Embrace transformation objectives and translate them into solutions driving business outcomes
These skills aren’t exclusive to IT professionals. Transformation leaders from all disciplines shared that the most challenging aspect of driving transformation was “working across the enterprise” to align on desired outcomes before choosing technological solutions. Stakeholders also wanted to partner with IT leaders who could see the big picture—those who could understand the “why” for transformation—not just the “how.”
By partnering on the motivations for transformation, leaders are more likely to shape the structure and culture of their organizations. This is particularly true in digitally maturing companies, which show these qualities:
• Three times as likely to organize around cross-functional teams
• Two times as likely to be looking out five years or more
• Willing to take risks and pilot new technologies6
Even organizations that are slower to embrace change expect their IT departments to be more cross-functional and provide the following:
• Collaborative oversight to help other business areas make tech decisions that are part of a broader ecosystem
• Modernized infrastructure and cloud to develop and deploy cloud-based, mobile, and AI-driven applications
• More speed to pilot and then adopt agile processes that accelerate speed to market
To raise your profile as an IT professional, explore ways to complement your core IT skills with knowledge of what makes your organization tick. Look around for role models and mentors who can give business context within and beyond your department.
Top technology trends for 2019.5
Activating augmented analytics.
Valuable insights can be derived from big data and analytics, but the risk of missing opportunities—or overwhelming an already taxed data science staff—increases as data volume grows. Augmented analytics taps automated algorithms to find hidden patterns and surfaces them, so teams can make more informed decisions.
Elevating machine learning and AI.
Machine learning will continue becoming “the standard” in enriching data and enabling business insights. Over time, it will not only inform how organizations activate insights, but how AI is used to automate routine business tasks and provide more data for use in additional technologies.
Organizations are adopting cloud-based computing to reduce overhead, take advantage of new technology, and mitigate risk. Cloud providers are also improving productivity and extensibility with user-friendly tools, apps, and APIs. They’re also offering pay-as-you-go subscription models that offer flexibility to organizations as they roll out and scale their operations.
Folding in edge computing.
As distributed networks and IoT capabilities expand, so does the demand for increasingly connected information processing. Organizations will look to minimize data latency between these disparate devices and networks—as well as speed the generation of insights at the point of relevancy—by ushering in an era of edge computing.
Reinforcing security and transparency.
Businesses will need to adopt cybersecurity protocols that proactively and securely guard company and customer data. While customers expect transparency in their data privacy externally, business leaders expect operational transparency internally, looking to blockchain approaches to enable visibility that can be trusted.
Embrace your own professional transformation.
Whether you’re an aspiring IT professional or sitting in the C-suite, in a digitally challenged or digitally advanced organization, chances are you have a strong technical foundation. Bolster this technical expertise with communication and collaboration skills, along with organizational acumen.
In particular, consider focusing on identifying solutions that address the needs of the business and stakeholders in your organization by doing the following:
• Embracing shifts in IT structure and roles in your organization
• Understanding how the adtech, martech and experience tech landscape can transform business
• Translating your technical expertise into strategic concepts that will support business growth
• Seeking opportunities to impact and grow IT’s role in advancing business goals
• Advocating for IT’s early involvement in strategic decision- making and technology buying
Digital transformation will continue driving enormous demand and growth opportunities for IT professionals worldwide. With that comes plenty of room to grow your career up and out. Tap into new technologies and deepen your understanding of how they’ll enable game-changing growth and competitive advantage for your business.
Future vision for technical skills.
Demand for technological skills is expected to grow 55 percent over the next 20 years,7 but 91 percent of CEOs express the need to strengthen soft skills alongside digital skills.8
To ride this wave, you’ll also need to reframe your perspective of IT in your organization and become a champion of IT among your peers. IT champions actively seek out leadership and challenging opportunities in every aspect of their life and career. They recognize the value of collaborating with marketing teams and working effectively with different groups of stakeholders. Taking initiative and recognizing that you can play a proactive role not only in enabling IT solutions, but driving business strategy and customer focus, can help shift your mindset from one of control and efficiency to one of collaboration and innovation, better positioning you to succeed in the era of experience.
1 Frederic, “The Digital Leadership Report 2016 Is Out: Orchestrating Digital Leadership,” CIONET, July 7, 2016.
2 Dion Hinchcliffe, “How IT and the Role of the CIO Is Changing in the Era of Networked Organizations,” May 21, 2015.
3 Frederic, “The Digital Leadership Report 2016 Is Out: Orchestrating Digital Leadership.”
4 “Gartner Says Global IT Spending to Reach $3.7 Trillion in 2018,” Gartner Newsroom, January 16, 2018.
5 Kasey Panetta, “Gartner Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2019,” Gartner,” October 15, 2018.
6 Gerald C. Kane et al., “Achieving Digital Maturity,” MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte,” July 13, 2017.
7 Jacques Bughin et al., “McKinsey Global Institute Skill Shift: Automation and the Future of the Workforce,” McKinsey & Company, May 2018.
8 “The Talent Challenge: Rebalancing Skills for the Digital Age,” PwC, 2018.
YOUR NEXT STEPS