With so many organizations already jumping into the digital transformation train, the fact is that there is a huge risk that just a few of them would understand and accomplish the most important benefits this era promises… unless they are able to assume a better alignment between goals and business strategy.
We are living a time when digital transformation is driving significant change across all industry sectors; that is why it is really critical that organizations are able to align functional and cross-functional project activities to their strategic objectives.
No one doubts anymore that “digital transformation is more than just the latest fancy idea” as organizations are realizing that “they will need to embrace digital transformation projects (and processes) if they want to survive the 4th Industrial Revolution”. Fact is that technologies like IoT, big data, social media, mobile and automation are already changing the way things are done and dragging business with them.
Digital transformation is about managers and business leaders taking command, but is also about IT departments assuming a new, bigger role when it comes to strategic decisions about the company they are in. It requires a change in the way companies work, from accounting processes to routine reports. Only the ones that will have the capability to adapt will be able to ride this perfect storm towards the future.
Lines are becoming thinner
In the digital economy, the lines between technology, new product development, applications, service delivery and management are becoming thinner with a tendency to disappear; that is why business should develop an integrated view of the company and all that surrounds it. By doing so, the work will become easier whenever business needs to support strategic planning and investment prioritization.
Traditionally, IT’s role in an organization was a supportive or administrative one, not strategic at all! But times are changing and only when IT understands the business, it can better fulfil its needs. Here you have some ideas of what could be done in order to assure business and IT are all in the same boat:
1. Engagement is the keyword
No more walls should be built; no more doors can be closed; you have to understand business strategy in the digital era has a big, huge open space where everybody is working towards the same objectives, according to the same lines and looking for the same results.
To align IT project and business strategy, leaders from both parts must be involved since the beginning: defining a strategic planning stage. So, if the strategy is to be delivered through IT initiatives, project leaders must be present when those plans are aligned. All in all, early engagement of the IT talent leads to a natural evolution where business and IT strategy grow side-by-side, shaping each other’s edges.
2. Aligned but not siamese
Yes, business and IT are aligned, the most aligned they can be but, please, make also sure that one does not duplicate the other. What we mean by that is each area should have their own ideas, present them and work upon it, always considering their needs and the needs of the other part, as well. If one is colourfully and shiny, the other might be in black and white; the real magical touch resides in the fact that administrators can put them two working together to conquer the same objectives.
3. Governance and flexibility
A good IT project governance could be the key to a successful work and a magnificent business. So, as soon as the two areas start to take different paths, it is time for the administrator to jump in and adjust accordingly.
Same with flexibility: business alignment needs to be flexible. If you create a strategy today, that same ideas might have to be quite different in six months or in a year from now. Take that into consideration when creating a strategy towards digital and business transformation.
4. How to achieve alignment of IT and business strategy?
This is the million-dollar question… but the answer might not be that difficult to find. There are new and Agile ways to deliver projects. When there is a need to decrease time-to-market on new projects without overlooking security or scalability for those same new projects the answer might as well be Agile Development!
By adopting Agile practices and values, companies can improve the agility of software professionals, IT teams and organizations.
Fact is that most Agile development methods break product development work into small pieces, minimizing the amount of up-front planning and design. Iterations are short time frames that last from one to four weeks, involving cross-functional team working, minimizing overall risk and allowing products to adapt to changes quickly.
In the end…
…this might sound so obvious and yet one of the most common reasons for IT projects’ failures is a lack of business case alignment. Why? Since immemorial times that IT’s role in an organization was a supportive one! This idea has to change so companies can integrate technology into the modern economy underlying that IT is also an important way to achieve business goals.
Nevertheless, in past years, there has been kind of a disconnected way in how technology staff and management see their work in relation to their company’s overall strategy: according to research firm Axelos, “even though some 70% of information technology service management professionals report having a clear understanding of their company’s strategy, only 41% believe that the work they do is aligned with that strategy.”
So, the first, and maybe one of the most important goals of any CIO when seeking to create better alignment between corporate strategy and IT initiatives, should be to take on the role of “chief technology educator” for the executive level.
Assuring there are important efforts for educational plans at the top of the company, empowering employees at all levels, and measuring outcomes will help organizations to know if they are going the right way
As modern digital transformation accelerates through the 21st century, the addition of new technologies and priorities will continue to shift the role of IT in the enterprise. Managers should be alert to those changes and ready to assume them and implement it within their organization.
Before ending, let us leave you with an idea that might make all the difference: “replatformization” of major systems using traditional methods requires a great deal of planning, hundreds, even thousands of hours of programming and testing and, at the end, the results might not be quite the one’s organizations were looking for; on the other hand, a low-code, rapid application development solution can significantly simplify the process of “replatforming” core systems and make smaller projects a huge success.
How to make the digital transformation happen before it’s too late? Blue Screen can help with this process. If you are looking for a partner, feel free to contact us.