Today’s highly competitive business environment demand business leaders lead from the front, with a proactive, hands-on approach. However, what often ties their hands are complex disjointed systems, non-integrated tools, and an overall lack of flexibility. Such stumbling blocks takes considerable energy, time and attention to resolve, which could be better spent on the core competency or revenue generating facets of the business.
The obvious need of the hour is simple and flexible systems that automate or executes routine tasks seamlessly without a hitch, in double-quick time. This, however, is easier said than done. The best-laid intentions to devise and implement such systems often fall flat on the face.
The solution is to elevate IT as a strategic partner, rather than a mere provider of infrastructure. While the basic role of IT is to provide the technical backbone that power the enterprise, today’s dynamic enterprises require these resources be set up and configured in a way organizational works are executed seamlessly, without a hitch. The onus is on the IT leaders to ensure the software overlay over the IT backbone, which
- delivers relevant real-time insights to supervisors, managers, and top management, fashioned the way they want it
- is customized to provide answers to the sales team and other customer-facing staff who meet customers on a daily basis
- Automates routine tasks, minimizing manual intervention
Remove the IT-Business Disconnect
IT has historically been seen as a “staff” function, whose role is to aid the core “line” activities. Many enterprises regard it as an unavoidable expense center, as opposed to a revenue-generating profit center. As such a dichotomy exists between IT and core operations in many enterprises.
CIO.com’s 2017 State of the CIO survey reveals that while 41% of chief Information officers regard their most important role as identifying business units that would benefit the most from using digital technologies, only 24% of business executives expect IT to contribute in the matter. Likewise, 64% of CIO’s opine IT being actively involved in recommending technology solutions but only 27% of business executives regard IT recommends technologies to support business initiatives.
One approach to reconciling the IT-business disconnect is to develop a shared service model that encompass not just IT, but the wider gamut of staff functions, including HR, finance, and other, to deliver back-office operations capabilities as required.
However, beyond such organizational tweaks, what is required is IT leaders leading from the front to drive the required transformation.
The obvious aim of enterprise systems is a seamless integration of all the information flowing through a company, ranging from financial information to inventory levels, and from operational process flow chart to customer information. However, managers and leaders are often straddled with incompatible information systems and inconsistent operating practices. Even majors such as Dell Computers found out the hard way its systems were incompatible with its new decentralized management model. FoxMeyer Drug alleges its Enterprise Management system drove it to bankruptcy above any other reason! While there could be several underlying causes for such epic failures, the root cause is often the software system imposing its own logic on a company’s strategy, culture, and organization, and the company unable or unwilling to accept it.
Many systems push an enterprise toward generic processes, when the pressing need may be for customized processes, as a source of competitive advantage. The prerequisite for success in devising enterprise systems is a clear understanding of the business implications. Make sure the logic of the system does not conflict with the logic of the business. Many enterprises realize this fact, but try to change the logic of the business rather than the logic of the software. This is a recipe for disaster. Successful integrate requires changing the logic of the system to suit the logic of the business, however hard or technically complex the task.
Again, while full integration and abolition of silos are generally regarded as the best practice, at times, a certain degree of business-unit segregation may be in the company’s best interests. Understanding the reality, and designing systems accordingly helps the business have the best of both worlds.
Unlock New Possibilities
The onus is on business managers to identifying opportunities to remove unnecessary steps in business processes, using IT. Several processes, be it payroll or compliance, may be reduced either by automating a paper-based task or by eliminating certain task, effectively redesigning the work. The power of IT to simplify long and convoluted business operations remain grossly underutilized.
However, beyond such process improvements, the real power of IT, however, is in transformational capabilities. With the advent of big data analytics, business managers gain real-time insights from data pulled in from business processes and crunched through the analytics engine. Business managers could use the insights derived from analytics to fine-tune their strategies.
Marketers could use analytical data to identify when a customer is ripe for progression through the lifecycle, seize a new sales opportunity, and much more. The power business leaders and sales operations get when they have the latest red-hot information at their fingertips, to serve end customers are tremendous.
The biggest mistake enterprises make is to embrace digital for digital’s sake. The obvious aim of embracing digital should be to create more digital touch points and connections for customers and improving delivery of products and services. Digital disruption without a positive light at end of the tunnel is doomed to end in failure. The onus is on IT leaders to provide a coherent customer-focused mission for the transformation.
A good process is only one part of the equation. It still requires good people to pull it off. Bringing along the IT and the business operations staff, communicating the intent and the benefits clearly, and training up the talent pool for fluency in the technology and business processes are the key drivers of success in any transformative initiative. The onus is on IT leaders to take a hands-on approach when implementing a culture of transformation.
Your quest to business transformation is best served by partnering with an IT leader. We offer the right talent, the expertise, and the right knowledge to help you in the path. Our wealth of experience in developing cutting edge apps and other digital solutions customized to your exact requirements and tailored to fulfill all your needs help you institute seamless apps that allow processes to run by itself, freeing up your valuable time and resources to focus on this that matter.