- 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 prioritising 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 organisation to come together to deliver seamless customer experiences. Fuelled 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 behaviours 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 maximise your impact.
Digital maturity is a state in which a company is realising the benefits of digital transformation by continually revolutionising its business. A digitally mature organisation has done more than just automate and digitise its processes—it has adopted a state of constant change, continually updating its operations and reorganising 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 re-inventing 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 that 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 organisation. Teams will use machine learning and AI to analyse and enrich that data. They’ll draw actionable insights that fuel innovation, growth and competitive advantage for their organisation—ultimately shifting their position from service centre (a cost) to intelligence centre (a driver of innovation and growth).
Understanding digital transformation.
Digital transformation is the utilisation 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 organisations have organisational shift that is redefining the role of IT leaders and the contributions of IT departments across the globe. While some organisations 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 affect 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-orientated 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 organisations. This is particularly true in digitally maturing companies, which show these qualities:
• Three times as likely to organise around cross-functional teams
• Twice as likely to be looking out five years or more
• Willing to take risks and pilot new technologies6
Even organisations 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
• Modernised 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 organisation 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 organisations activate insights, but how AI is used to automate routine business tasks and provide more data for use in additional technologies.
Organisations 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 organisations 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. Organisations will look to minimise 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 organisation, chances are you have a strong technical foundation. Bolster this technical expertise with communication and collaboration skills, along with organisational acumen.
In particular, consider focusing on identifying solutions that address the needs of the business and stakeholders in your organisation by doing the following:
• Embracing shifts in IT structure and roles in your organisation
• 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 affect 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 per cent over the next 20 years,7 but 91 per cent of CEOs express the need to strengthen soft skills with digital skills.8
To ride this wave, you’ll also need to reframe your perspective of IT in your organisation 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 recognise the value of collaborating with marketing teams and working effectively with different groups of stakeholders. Taking initiative and recognising that you can play a proactive role not only in enabling IT solutions, but driving business strategy and customer focus, can help to 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, 7 July 2016.
2 Dion Hinchcliffe, “How IT and the Role of the CIO Is Changing in the Era of Networked Organisations,” 21 May 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, 16 January 2018.
5 Kasey Panetta, “Gartner Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2019,” Gartner,” 15 October 2018.
6 Gerald C. Kane et al., “Achieving Digital Maturity,” MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte,” 13 July 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.
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