Authored by Kerry Raminiak

Buzzwords are thick within the IT universe. “Innovation,” “business enablement,” and “digital enterprise” all take on different meaning when, especially lately, they have been combined to promote a “new directive” for the IT professional. The challenge is that while analysts and vendors alike seek to highlight new, large, statistical trends that have not yet codified a set of terms — likewise, another round of acronyms and buzzwords is, more often than not, first dismissed with skepticism.

As time and trends will dictate where the dust settles on the terminology: “digital enterprise” versus “business enablement” versus “business technology impact” versus “business transformation catalysts”; it’s important to note that whatever comes of the debate, the issue, itself, is not going anywhere. Unlike many buzzwords in the IT space, these concepts actually do herald change.

Why is it for real this time?

The environment in which IT functions has changed, so the way IT functions must change also. Call it the era of digital business: with digitalization left, front and center. Unarguably, IT must be less about process efficiency and more about helping the business leverage new technology to create innovative products, services and business models.

The other option: IT can opt to be relegated to the role of assignee, gatekeeper, or tech custodian. It’s the choice of internal IT leadership to make this choice on behalf of your team and your organization.

The why behind the why

What’s driving all this buzzword-happy behavior? Every organization has its hot buttons, however, long-standing research is pointing to five important reasons why many LOBs have leveraged the “digital enterprise” to reach more customers, get to market faster, communicate with the field easily, analyze numbers better, and do each of these more cost effectively.

  1. The Internet of Everything: By 2020, Cisco predicts there will be 50 billion connected devices in the world. That’s a lot of opportunity to engage with customers, work with the field, develop revenue streams and more.
  2. The Cloud: Migrating operations and applications to the cloud continues as organizations seek to cut costs. Legacy apps, third-party integrations and custom APIs can make it challenging if you’re strapped for people or time.
  3. BYOD: Employees bring their own devices and apps; IT is responsible for managing and predicting the fallout. Systematizing this with strategy, mobile apps and security can reduce costs and stop hackers and malware.
  4. Shadow IT: Departmental purchasing and implementation of SaaS offerings bypass IT governance and, therefore, the ability to integrate with other systems effectively. This creates a new generation of local optimizations and functional siloing inside the enterprise.
  5. Analytics: This perennial addition to any tech list becomes more urgent as data becomes more ubiquitous. Get key filters in place to learn why your users do what they do, when they do it, so that you can get ahead of the curve.

 

Some say we’re already there. To an extent, that’s true: the apps are available, or can be built. The platforms exist. There are likely people who are already selling some of these very capabilities into your company without your knowledge – Gartner tells us that 50% of all technology salespeople skip IT altogether and sell direct to business units.

But that doesn’t mean that IT is shut out. IT’s rightful place in leadership of technology decisions and guidance for the company can hardly be argued, it’s simply up to IT to take it.

Making it happen

How do you make that happen? The paper Five Keys to Delivering Business Technology Impact outlines the “how” – encompassing more than technical expertise, it’s about a mindset change that starts with the CIO and goes throughout IT. It’s not easy but it’s worth it – and entirely doable. In Part 2 of this blog, I will detail these recommendations.

Next steps

  • Continue reading — Part 2 is now live here.
  • Access the brief, Five Keys to Delivering Business Technology Impact. This how-to guide for enterprise CIOs and their teams outlines what differentiates best-in-class IT organizations from followers and demonstrates how you can make the shift.
  • Learn from leaders. For a look at a best-in-class organization using ubiquitous connectivity in really interesting ways, check out Greyhound, which is using Internet of Everything sensors to improve bus line safety, efficiency and customer satisfaction. Or, consider the McCoy’s Building Supply case study for a vision that stepped away from traditional eCommerce “best practices” to best serve their unique client base and business stakeholders.

 

 
 

 

  • Talk back: Is your organization walking the walk? If your IT group is already best-in-class at leading the business technology charge, or is actively working towards it, share your knowledge! How did you make the shift? Tell us about it in the Comments.

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