Missed Opportunities with IT
We are going through a technology revolution and seeing the value being created by different technologies like never before. Likes of Uber, Airbnb, OYO Rooms, Travelocity, Amazon, GoodRx and so many others have given us access to data that was monopolized by a few and at the same time created new services for the consumer that we never thought were even possible. These services have created new markets that never existed before and at the same time create value for everyday consumer. It is an era of consumerization of IT at its best. However, businesses are still not able to tap into this power of technology and realize full value from their IT function. Why?
Many still view IT as a cost function that manages mobile phones, laptops, desktops and infrastructure; everyday services that make us productive but not the only services that IT offers. We fail to acknowledge the digitization of our everyday processes enabled by IT upon which all business functions operate on. IT is one function in a business that sees business processes across the enterprise. IT has the capability to digitize these processes, understands the linkages between the various functions and understands the relative maturity of the processes in each of these functions. In a nutshell, IT is the one function that can tell a fairly complete story about the business. All other business functions can tell a very detailed story about their function but no one function can tell the “story across the enterprise” like IT can. This “knowledge about the operational health of a business” is being left tapped.
This untapped potential can be easily realized by businesses as every business function has to gain from use of technology.
Here are some common examples that are often not managed well in a business and technology solutions offer off the shelf capability to solve them.
Order Management Forecast Accuracy, KPIs like Quote to Order, On-Time Delivery, Profitability by Customer
Procurement Supplier on-time delivery, Automation of Purchase Requisition and Purchase Order process
Operations MRP exceptions matching supply to demand, Inventory Aging
Logistics Hooks into logistic providers to automate the shipping and receiving processes
Human Resources Performance Management, Succession Planning
There are many other examples of where technology and digital processes can improve the agility and overall health of our businesses. The board and CEOs can be champions of this change and consider IT like all other functions in the business and expect them to bring value to the enterprise not just by cutting costs but by having the responsibility to enable growth of the top line as well. This power should be unleashed for the betterment of all customers (employees, suppliers, customers, investors).
There are many other examples of where technology and digital processes can improve the agility and overall health of our businesses
Don’t give IT a “pass” by saying that we understand you are a “cost function”.
The IT Function also has to act responsibly and demonstrate some key attributes
1) IT Leaders as Business Leaders. We have to understand business needs and wants to be able to support overall business objectives.
2) Don’t just be a Cost Center. There is only so much we can do by cutting costs. At some point we need to support growth of the top line. Be part of the challenge and the story.
3) Transform the “IT Language” we speak. We definitely need technologist in all of us but need to remove barriers of language between business and IT. IT teams have to learn to adopt business lingo.
4) Don’t just keep the lights on. Transform. Focus on services and capabilities that will improve the business’ ability to deliver on its objectives. Develop capabilities to deliver transformations successfully so “step changes” in business performance can be realized.
5) Share Successes and Failures. Not a core competency of IT. We have to learn to communicate not just within the company but across relevant social media, events and other relevant channels. Tell “stories” on both successes and failures so there is a sense of community and shared learning.