IT is Struggling to be the Digital Technology Master

New Technology Dawns 4There is so much occurring in new applications and alternative solutions, it is a very tough position for most dealing in technology to truly master all  of these breaking options they might have to consider.

It must be a little overwhelming, when many responsible for IT have for years not had any strategic involvement and not been given clear line-of-business oversight.

Business management equally has over the years built up an ‘arm’s distance’ to IT and found ways to overcome barriers they felt were seemingly put in their way, when it came to ‘bringing in’ the technology they deemed as essential.

Something needs to change going forward. Both the business manager and the IT need to find ways to exchange, collaborate and share. It is in their ‘vested’ interest but more importantly for the future health of the business itself.

Part four of a seven part series

Over a number of years IT and the business seem to have grown apart. IT worked on keeping all that surrounds the ‘systems of record’ and tended to push away or outsource many of the ‘systems of engagement’ to others, either third parties or line-of-business. Email for example stayed within their domain but collaborative tools, the building of on-line communities, supply chain systems tended to be handed over to the expert group and they provided the ‘back-end’ support.

Much within IT has been handed over to lines of business to design and manage. Will this need to change back?

Today, the lines of business are rapidly handling increased system designs to meet their own needs and seemingly encouraged to do so. IT often seems to have been assigned the back-end task of ensuring they can work, are safe and don’t corrupt those all important organizational ‘systems of records’.

The changes in customer experiences and the engagement within these communities, the open innovation activities prompted by research and development, the stand alone systems for manufacturing design and improvements, have all seen a massive proliferation of either independent systems with minimum integration, or systems to site upon systems, adding complexity and poor line of corporate oversight.

An awful lot of business intelligence is sitting in silo’s where there is limited ability or even no incentive to explore these in different ways. The Enterprise core is limited and not really connected to much of the value-generating parts as we would wish. Knowledge is not flowing across and up and down organizations unless with some considerable manual effort.

There is a time for real change – technology and business need to be redesigned

We are in need of recognizing this new wave of external connected technology needs to be well-connected within our organizations. There are so many forces of constraint, forces of proliferation that need to come together but this is a massive, significant task for an organization to signal its (final) determination to achieve.

The implementation of ERP for many was a painful experience, not because it was not needed, it seemed such a wrenching change. Any significant technological overhaul will make that set of experiences a ‘walk in the park’ compared to this set of challenges that is being thrown at us today. The changes we will be facing to accommodate new technologies and its realization of value will ned an even greater evolution, ERP will fade into the background as a new Enterprise Innovation Planning (EIP) system evolves

The real need is delivering a new integrated engagement platform

We need not just a new innovation management system, we need a modern engagement platform. We need to integrate and sync so many transaction and stand-alone systems that have been allowed to proliferate over the years to meet specific business needs. The growing pressure will be demanded to find solutions that provide a cohesive and business-focused approach to the new social enterprise where we seek engagement at scale into a multiple array of communities and advocates that has data and innovation as its core.

There is such a business / IT / customer divide where the social push is shifting and still very emergent, where the new competitive advantage will be based on ease of acquisition, ease of use, clarity and diversity of choice and variety so innovations will be more tailored to the individual.

The demand for increased autonomy, personal choice will come up against the organization that is totally unprepared in adapting to this rapidly changing world. Organizations are lacking the right type of resources and comprehensive view of what needs to be connected and integrated, what is presently under way  is going to change many of our current industries today as they all become partly a software business.

How can we connect, enable and deliver better innovative outcomes?

There is so much to be realized, connected and enabled for the higher scale, richer, more innovative business outcomes but it is a massive undertaking that is only just being ‘kicked off’ by the current internet of things. It will eventually become the integration of everything but the disruption and realization of what needs changing is only just dawning on many.

External insights and Intelligence will not become Enterprise knowledge that flows without real, deep integration. Receiving the knowledge alone will not turn these into higher scales, richer, more innovation business outcomes that have real growth value, unless we realize the massive ‘mismatch’ between digital flowing in and the physical attempting to cope with this.

I would think unless the innovation systems within organizations are not dramatically altered and that is calling for a massive investment and some really tough strategic decisions of what and where to place those strategic bets and much of the technology needed is only being designed today that focuses mainly on the incoming part.

A painful and frustrating journey is ahead of us all

Turning big data and its insights into commercial successful innovation outcomes may be a very painful journey for many organizations. Business and IT have got to find radically different ways to collaborate and align. We need new models of work, more community-centric, non-hierarchical, dynamic and fluid, in a sharing economy where the evolution of apps and new devices will all have an increasing impact, based on collaborative technology. I’ve previously written on this as “the proliferation of transitory moments

The enterprise design will be radical in redesign and upheaval.

Much of the hype today about all this big data and the analytics behind it is great but the hand off back into existing infrastructures will mean most of it will never be realizable. It certainly can’t be handled by today’s innovation management system where knowledge is lacking and physical intervention is built on the wrong premise of managing innovation activity.

We need to review organizational engagement. Much has to change, be uprooted and completely revisited to begin to design a new digital and physical integrated innovation system.

To master digital technologies and what that can bring in new innovation and value requires a coordination and collaboration of business and IT, each needs to become involved in what the other is doing, thinking and planning and make these plans integrated through a new organizational set of process and procedural designs.

We need to reconsider enterprise architecture for this 21st digital century where increased autonomy, choice and resources can adapt, disrupt, refine, grow and renew constantly in a digital enterprise collaboration that allows data and voice to be heard….and acted upon.

I liked a comment recently from Beth Comstock, the Senior Vice President of GE in a recent interview on the imperative of speed commented: “If we left it up to each business to figure out their data and software, we would not be taking advantage of the scale of the company”. She is totally right, decisions being made today around digital technology are broad room and highly strategic. IT going forward shapes the organizations future.

Who is going to take the lead in your organization to design digital technologies into the very fabric of the organization. It can’t be left to one person or another, this is a total leadership challenge. IT need to find ways to engage fully within the board room, across all line of business and drive the changes up into each conversation and strategic discussion for the foreseeable future.

How organization design and connect digital technologies with profitable innovation outcomes will decide most organization’s futures going forward, markets, customers and investors will be judging this ability very critically over the next few years.


***This is the forth of a seven part exploratory ‘open thinking’ about digital technology and its potential impact on innovation as we know it today. These will be published daily over the next week. The intent is not to offer definitive answers so much at this stage, it is more about raising our thinking.***

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