Can your business transformation succeed without IT’s involvement?

When does business improvement or business transformation become an ‘innovation’?  Who cares, really?   It’s business outcomes that matter.

Whether labelled as ‘business transformation’, ‘re-engineering’, ‘improvement’ or   Innovation – the bottom line is that implementing organisational change is easy to say and hard  – especially those that have been around for a while.

The fundamental question for most established organisations is to define what role your IT team are to play in this journey. How this role is defined could be the game changer needed to drive sustainable business value.

Should they be expected to passively wait for ‘the business’ to work out what it needs, then respond to the needs? Or, play an active part in positively challenging the underlying assumptions about when, where and how digital / IT can play its part in delivering business excellence?

Consider the polar opposites of the stereotypical organisations – the Digital Startup and established business

On the one end of the scale we have the 100% digital start-up.

Characterised by having no legacy costs, technology debt or entrenched business practices that are hard to change, the start-up can move with speed, adaptability and exploit the full potential offered by innovation.

In these instances, organisations could not exist without exploiting modern digital technologies.

For the digital start-up – the business IS the IT department.

On the other end of the scale are organisations that have been around a while. These have established structures, processes, management hierarchies, governance frameworks, products, services, legacy IT systems and infrastructure and so on. Driving change and innovation within these organisations is much, much harder.

For many established, incumbent organisations, the IT department is often a minor, but necessary player in the overall scheme of the business.

What can established organisations learn from their start-up cousins in order to capitalise on first mover’s advantage or innovation?

Put this another way: Why is it that the IT departments of established organisations struggle to incubate innovation within the business, while outside of the organisation, technology-fuelled innovation is so prevalent?

This question lies at the heart of the IT Innovation Paradox facing established organisations.

Are your past successes hampering business transformation?

How can a relatively inflexible, yet successful organisation that has become hamstrung by its own processes, structures and technologies, transform to becoming truly flexible and innovative? At the end of the day, the ability to continually adapt and adopt innovative change will define the ultimate success of the business.   Not convinced? Just ask Kodak, Polaroid, Nokia, Blackberry shareholders for their perspectives.

For the moment, consider business transformation and, possible even innovation through the lenses of product or business process.

  • In the case of product-centric transformation, the focus is on growing the business through the sale of new, innovative products or services.
  • Business process transformation, on the other hand, underpins different business models and can result in dramatic efficiency gains leading to massive increases in profit margins, improved customer service levels or open up new business opportunities. Getting this process and business model right will lead to a durable success for the organisation as a whole.

This is where a well managed, skilled and appropriately resourced  IT  function has the potential to play a crucial part in driving this process innovation and business transformation.  If the business’ IT systems underpin the whole business, the IT team should have an unobstructed yet detailed understanding of the key information taxonomies and business processes that cut across all departmental lines and business unit structures.

It is this perspective that can be a real game-changer in identifying the opportunities for a fresh, innovative approach to the internal processes and business models for the entire organisation.

Question is:  Whether you are a CEO, CIO, or play any part in the decision making within your business, how can you contribute in shifting your IT department from being an IT service function to  an Innovation broker?.

Three ways to build innovation into your organisation

So, in the new innovation economy, how does the C-suite of established organisations transition their enterprise to becoming “innovative” without either compromising effective governance, or diverting valuable resources from keeping the business running?

The key to building a sustainable enterprise wide innovation capability is to consider innovation through the three lenses of your:

  • Business strategies,
  • INtrapreneurship and
  • Organisational culture.

Question, is – What factors are clouding your view.