Beyond ‘Business as Usual’: 4 Challenges to IT Convergence in 2019
Metrics: From information technology to business technology
Transforming large IT departments from support stations to enablers
Let’s not conduct business as usual. Let’s focus on the exceptional. To succeed in 2019 and the next decade, takes more than constant big-dollar upgrading or restructuring. It’s not a move from A to B, or even from A to Z. It’s a move from a fixed starting point, to a state of continual change. Within this state of perpetual flux, adaptive technology is necessary, not only to keep up with industry developments but also with the expansion of technology-enabled customer experiences.
But how does IT prove its value and win the trust of the C-suite? Well, according to Gartner, almost 20% of companies have already invested in tools capable of monitoring business-relevant metrics, with this number predicted to reach 60% by 2021. The problem is many infrastructure and operations (I&O) leaders don’t know where to begin when initiating an IT monitoring strategy.
Reach beyond the everyday: IT convergence in 2019
Indeed, CIOs are under mounting pressure to address digital needs that grow and transform, as well as to renovate the operational environment with new functions. Additionally, they must also still demonstrate how IT is meeting a given business strategy. So in 2019, no matter how big or small your business is, technology will be the delivery of tangible and intangible benefits ( e.g., speed and performance) to hit revenue and targets efficiently, and meet your customers’ expectations of innovation.
Put simply, having a good technological infrastructure enriches the culture, efficiency, and relationships of the business.
The importance of Interchangeable operations
Also, according to Gartner, “Business alignment will need to be redefined to deliver successful digital experiences.” That is, while alignment can be defined as a state of agreement or cooperation, business and IT convergence in 2019 is next-level. It means the two streams are coming together towards a common endpoint, where business and technology activities are linked, and the leadership teams operate almost interchangeably.
These converged companies have increased the efficiency of technology investments, understood the challenges of IT convergence in 2019, and significantly reduced the financial and operational risks associated with business and technical change. In other words, those that think ahead, get ahead. Take the move away from old-fashioned on-premises solutions. Deloitte’s recent mid-market technology trends report highlights that nearly 40% of executives expect their most significant productivity gains will come from investments in cloud infrastructure.
Business and IT solutions: Hardwired for success
As discussed in 2018’s #1 post The Importance of Business and IT Alignment, as business goals pivot, IT can more readily respond with necessary solutions to support and maintain enterprise momentum. In turn, technological advances and improvements are hardwired into current and future strategies and initiatives, creating one unified team from these seemingly disparate silos.
The consumerization of IT convergence in 2019
As this unification progresses and becomes more widespread, business and IT convergence will increasingly lead to the ‘consumerization of IT ’ where the line between corporate and personal technology blurs. Indeed, there is already a growing expectation that employees should have access to the same technologies at home and the office. I mean, who doesn’t want to search for information across their organization’s databases as simply and rapidly as if they were asking Alexa?
Ready, steady… go. Enabling the future of business infrastructure
But a more fundamental implication of business and IT convergence is the changing nature of corporate IT. In short, roles that were traditionally embedded within IT departments are now formally integrated into the business. This has significant implications for IT infrastructure because staff must be efficient in their tasks, and be reliably, safely and cost-effectively shared across the enterprise to tackle any pain points that arise.
Enabled companies add beneficial IT solutions to their toolkit…
… but don’t lose sight of their workforce
However, successful companies differentiate themselves not strictly through technological progress, but first and foremost through their understanding of human behavior, organizational structure and especially their ability to drive effective organizational change and governance.
It’s a common observation that large traditional organizations that made it big long before digitalization often struggle because they were built around physical products and services, and are now faced with the challenge to become agile innovators that can compete in the digital era.
Also, as we move closer to the point where business and IT convergence is the new norm, even recent entrants into the market may find themselves left behind, as they stick to the IT infrastructure and mindset that has served them well so far. Adapt to thrive will be the name of the game! And tackling the challenges to IT convergence, its high score.
Closing the business and IT gap in 2019
Tip for 2019+: If there is a perception among colleagues that your organization is heavily siloed, consider deploying business relationship managers (BRMs). A strategic BRM could act as a combination of ambassador/translator/mediator to the business to ensure departments understand all the benefits of IT, especially in times of change. This can also broaden skill-sets, especially for entry-level employees.
4 challenges to IT convergence in 2019
As discussed, there is no universal definition for business and IT convergence, so while it may seem straightforward, many organizations struggle to achieve this elusive goal. The most pressing problems arise when plans do not indicate what the business value is, and what strategic or tactical business benefit the organization is aiming to achieve.
In other words, your IT objective must be to prioritize the business value chain, and determine your metrics of success accordingly. In the case of business and IT convergence, success cannot derive from an IT metric alone.
Here are four challenges to hurdle in reaching the holy grail of business and IT convergence:
No shared understanding of the organizational ecosystem and urgency of issues
Since ineffective behavior often results from a lack of knowledge of one’s actions, the analysis should clarify how current practice results in problems and complexity in the organization and IT ecosystem. This analysis is critical to avoid chasing silver bullets and to align all the stakeholders around a shared understanding of the issues they need to address.
No shared vision to challenge your business model
A key driver of successful operational excellence is uniting the entire company under one shared vision. From here, your business model can be tested under any number of conditions. It is essential to examine the internal part of your business model, your relation to your customers, and your position concerning competitors.
After forming a clear picture of where you are now, you have to determine an accurate business model based on the concept of business and IT convergence. This model then has to be translated into a transparent and flexible change agenda, where the shared vision functions as a long-term guideline.
Static and unagile approach to implementation with no focused sprints nor multidisciplinary teams
Given that business and IT convergence involves change across organizational boundaries, it logically requires interdisciplinary teams for success. This is a part of the transformation where the use of certain agile principles can help because multidisciplinary teams can work in iterations and continuously learn and adjust. But they only work well if the goals and boundaries are apparent and are driven from a shared understanding by business and IT executives.
Disparate silos with no communication and unison momentum
To keep staff motivated and involved throughout any convergence agenda, it is important to share and celebrate success. While this is obvious, if achievements are not highlighted, or appear disconnected from the transformation, the willingness to learn and grow together, and tackle the next steps as a team, will diminish. Consider using creative and attractive ‘convergence journeys’: For example, VR and AR solutions are great at visualizing how teams are moving forward and how the IT ecosystem is changing.