Companies that are grappling with digital transformation are discovering they need to reshape their IT department as well as their business operations to succeed.
This is borne out by research by the Cloud Industry Forum. It identified a number of trends:
- most IT departments are working on more projects than three years ago
- around a third of IT projects are not being completed on time or on budget
- nearly three quarters of businesses plan to move to a more cloud-native approach, building any new applications in the cloud
All these developments highlight the scale of digital transformation, the resources needed to manage it and the pressure IT departments are under.
To respond to these challenges, IT departments need to:
1. Recruit people with innovation skills
Recruit people — no matter the role they’re filling — who have innovation at the forefront of their thinking. It’s no longer enough to employ a single digital transformation strategist or visionary to drive the organisation’s digital journey. Everyone in the IT department needs to be able to add real value to the business rather than just keep the wheels turning.
That doesn’t mean you don’t still need that visionary business sponsor and that they don’t have a vital role to play. One strand is to create widespread support for projects within the organisation and ensure they have the necessary resources. A second is for them to constantly increase their understanding of “the art of the possible”, in order to fully imagine how the business might change. Finally, recognising that digital transformation is an iterative process, rather than “one-and-done”, they need to encourage the business to move forward with a series of quick, practical developments, rather than in one big leap.
2. Develop cloud management expertise
Develop expertise in managing cloud projects. This typically involves orchestrating the efforts of numerous external partners as well as the in-house team. IT departments need to strengthen their integration and migration skills in order to bring those elements together and make the transition to cloud computing.
Another essential skill when managing cloud projects is change management expertise. From day one, you need to be developing the communications, internal marketing, and training and go-live support programmes that are critical to ensuring your digital transformation sticks.
In addition, the IT department must have access to strong user experience and design skills. Successful digital transformation projects overcome resistance to change by creating solutions that people prefer to use over sticking with the old ways of working. You do that best by involving both real users and user experience experts in the design and prototyping of apps, even before you start coding.
3. Move to DevOps and Agile
Move to using DevOps-based or Agile methodologies. This is driven both by the need to react with greater agility to a rapidly changing business landscape and by the increasing use of technologies designed for rapid deployment, such as micro-services and containerisation.
With a DevOps or Agile approach, you can deliver and deploy production quality code to support new business processes and features every few weeks rather than every few years. You’ll work more closely with business users to identify, define, update and prioritise user requirements, so you know you’re working on the most important projects, while running testing alongside coding means you’ll quickly find out if new code actually works. With this approach, your developers will also be thinking about security measures as they code, so you can be more confident that new software will comply with your organisation’s security policies and meet your industry’s regulatory demands.
4. Deepen IT team expertise
Deepen the technical expertise in the IT team and recruit for specific skills, rather than looking for generalists. The Cloud Industry Forum research suggests security, data science, artificial intelligence and machine learning skills are all areas where companies are likely to need knowledge in depth to deliver on their digital transformation strategies.
Because these skills are scarce, many companies struggle to fill these roles and prioritise technical competency when hiring. However, experience shows softer skills in this group are also vital to the success of transformation projects.
Of course, you shouldn’t forget that you need domain expertise in the business processes you’re trying to transform. Here, you need not just senior managers who understand a whole process at a strategic level but also frontline workers who know exactly what steps are involved — and all their wrinkles and frustrations.
Working with a cloud partner like Ancoris is one way to fill the gaps in your team, especially when it comes to finding some of the scarcer technical skills and adding practical experience in user experience design and change management. We don’t just parachute people in, though. We know how important the right mix of skills and personnel is to delivering a successful outcome, so we work closely with customers on all their digital transformation projects to help them build an effective team with all the necessary skills and the right mindset.
With this approach, we’ve been able to work with businesses like yours to deliver numerous award-winning digital transformation initiatives. To find out more about how we do it, read about some of our successful projects with customers or come and talk to the experts in our digital transformation team.