Someone once classified the world into two types of people: those who like categorizing people into two types and those who don’t.
I used to be one of those people, the kind that saw executives as either business-focused or technology-focused. I’ve noticed other people have this tendency too. It doesn’t matter whether I’m talking to clients about analytics, CRM, data, or digital, the question always comes up: “Who should own that, the business or IT?”
The question of ownership pervades the day-to-day at companies worldwide. It seems everyone is focused on everyone else—who should own it? Who should manage it? Who should take credit for it? Who should fund it?
But in watching the companies that were effective at bridging the proverbial business-IT divide, I noticed three common traits:
- The successful companies had leaders who realized that appointing people or changing organizational structures wasn’t enough. New ways of doing business were key, and new processes needed to be practiced in order to ensure change adoption.
- These companies met their cultures where they were, working within the strictures of top-down or bottom-up and ensuring that these new processes and rules of engagement were new enough to be compelling but not so disruptive that they would encourage inertia or sabotage.
- Leaders at these companies didn’t embrace these changes for their own sake. Rather they were (and are) considering how trends like digital business are forcing fresh approaches to longstanding business functions.
Using the trend of the digital business and innovation as the key drivers for make-or-break changes to IT, I wrote about practices that successful leaders have embraced to not only transform IT, but to leverage technology in new ways for business benefit. The New IT: How Business Leaders are Enabling Strategy in the Digital Age features change agents who have emerged from the trenches to tell their stories.
What I’ve learned from these leaders is what I write about in the book, including:
- If your IT only has two speeds, you’re in big trouble.
- The question, “What type of CIO are you?” misses the point. The real question is, “What type of organization are you leading, and what should it look like?”
- Collaborating by getting everyone in a room isn’t good enough anymore. (In fact, it’s dangerous.)
- Corporate strategy and IT strategy can be aligned on one page.
- Hierarchy is being replaced with holocracy, homogeneity with diversity.
- Innovation shouldn’t be run by an elite SWAT team in a separate building with sushi lunches and ergonomic desk chairs. Everyone should be invited to innovate!
- More people are talking about digital than doing it. Except maybe for you, if you can circumscribe digital delivery.
- You don’t have to be in Silicon Valley to join the revolution. In fact you might not want to be!
The leaders profiled in The New IT—including leaders from Medtronic, Union Bank, Men’s Wearhouse, Swedish Health, Principal Financial, and Brooks Brothers, to name a few—have shown that it’s no longer about business versus IT. Rather, it’s about business enabling IT. And vice versa.