IT departments have critical responsibilities in organizations, but the full scope of their role is often misunderstood. As digital transformation continues to be a priority in nearly all organizations, IT leaders must reevaluate what success looks like and how it can be achieved.
The C-suite should empower IT leaders to implement essential technology throughout their organizations in a way that is strategic, cost-effective, and serves employees and customers. Understanding how IT teams can have an impact across an organization is a good first step to begin executing effective technology acquisition strategies.
1. Improve internal communication
IT leaders are responsible for implementing technology and data infrastructure across an organization. This can include CIOs, CTOs, and increasingly, CDOs (Chief Data Officers). To do this effectively, IT teams need employee buy-in, illustrating clearly how new technology tools and project management can benefit the company’s mission and goals. To achieve the full support of the employee base, IT teams must explain the implementation process and expected timeline.
[ Also read What defines a high-performing IT team? CIOs speak out. ]
While data platforms and cloud infrastructure are important, the table stakes are tools that allow for internal communication and collaboration. Many IT teams are leveraging business process management platforms (BPMs), which help enable better collaboration between remote and in-office teams, offering a shared view of projects. These platforms allow for greater visibility and communication across organizations while reducing meeting time and improving workflow efficiencies.
2. Employ automation, but do it strategically
Technology has the potential to increase productivity, provide greater visibility of projects for employees and managers, and automate tasks that are repetitive and time-consuming.
Automation software and platforms can enhance employee experience and engagement by reducing burnout. By removing the need for employees to manually enter or organize large sets of data, for example, employees can focus on data analysis and making strategic decisions based on the outcomes. Automation also reduces the possibility of human error that is inherent to manual processes.
AI is increasingly underpinning intelligent automation across enterprises. However, it’s easy to get caught up in the AI hype. Success means a true path to operationalizing AI. Enterprises often go wrong with automation by focusing too much on large-scale initiatives instead of starting small with process and project workflows that can be automated, which all add up to larger-scale success.
[ Related read: 5 AI adoption mistakes to avoid ]
3. Bridge the gap between business and IT
The rise of low-code/no-code solutions has changed the game when it comes to freeing up resources and clearing IT bottlenecks. These technologies enable citizen developers to build applications for things like CRM, BMP, work management, and other mission-critical operations that have historically required IT and developer resources.
IT leaders in modern organizations must be willing to empower business users with the ability to build and manage so that “shadow IT” can become a thing of the past. However, successful implementation will always require that governance and guardrails are baked into the process from the start. IT leaders must also still be on hand to scale out more complex applications, especially those dependent on complex AI and data science.
4. Always think about the customer experience
While IT teams ensure that technology is being used effectively and securely across an organization, they should never lose sight of how such tools contribute to customer satisfaction. Many IT initiatives are enabling some kind of customer-facing experience, and IT leaders can provide more individualized customer experience through the use of chatbots, apps, surveys, and email.
By using automated customer engagement technologies, employees can devote more time to higher-touch customer service. This is important, especially with big-ticket purchases like cars, appliances, and other consumer durables. Satisfied customers lead to happier employees, and this creates a cycle of success for businesses.
Above all, IT leaders should continually evaluate best practices. With a holistic approach that includes effective communication, automation technology, prioritization for operational efficiency, and customer experience, IT leaders have the opportunity to effect wide-sweeping changes and implement new technologies successfully.
[ New research from Harvard Business Review Analytic Services identifies four focus areas for CIOs as they seek more flexibility, resilience, and momentum for digital transformation. Download the report now. ]