Not too long ago, new business systems were handpicked by a select few in the C-Suite. Come launch day, IT support would expend countless resources with boots on the ground convincing users, and themselves, of the merits of the new implementation.
In a post-client-server world, deployments conceived through traditional, hierarchical decision-making processes will undoubtedly be met with increased resistance from digitally apt workforces. Further, if the discussion around digital transformation is confined to the boardroom table, you’re running the risk of confusing the map for the territory.
Business Users Are the X-Factor When It Comes to Transformation
Millennials, remote workforces, freelancers, the gig economy and tech-savvy Generation Y workers have become huge influencers in the way IT systems are expected to behave. Digital natives have replaced the office “technophobes” and even older generations have rapidly evolved from the pre-internet era to embrace technology wholeheartedly.
This means CIOs, and the C-Suite at large, need to consider new and evolving workplace cultures when mapping out their transformation journeys. Questions about whether employees will engage new systems and if it will meet their requirements to work more seamlessly and flexibly need clear answers long before implementation day.
For any chance of your new integrated CRM system, or in-house proprietary application to deliver the ROI your C-suite covets, it has to consider the people who will ultimately work with it. While this may sound painfully obvious today, history tells us that business processes and technology didn’t always subscribe to this fundamental truth.
Also, new technology initiatives no longer spawn from boardrooms or the CIO’s office alone. Business units are becoming very apt at identifying technology gaps and opportunities for process improvements. Ignoring this reality will result in lost opportunities for building truly value-based and transformative business solutions.
Mr CIO, Tear Down These Walls
CIO’s and IT teams must heed the lessons from the angst-ridden early days of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). While the rise of mobility in the workplace held promise for digital natives, risk-averse IT leaders suffered countless sleepless nights because of it. Nightmares of hapless users deleting the company’s entire WIP folder prompted many IT departments to resist the phenomenon entirely or take extreme measures to restrict the technology – and its potential along with it.
While a measured approach toward innovation in the workplace is absolutely justified, technology leaders must adopt a more pragmatic stance. Today, it’s inconceivable that we could ever go back to hyper-secure VPNs and corporate security overkill simply to map a network drive.
The People Have Spoken
When it comes to the workforce, technology leaders must re-think the “us versus them” dynamic and engage users on an equal footing. They’ll need to start thinking about how technology impacts users’ ability to work better, smarter and faster. To do this, a new approach that factors in workforce sentiment and requirements around new technologies must be adopted.
The reality is that people are no longer willing to stay in jobs in which they feel undervalued and dictated to. In this light, IT can no longer afford to act as the corporate pit bull who blindly enforces policy. A fine line needs to be navigated that sees IT organisations engage their customers, i.e. end-users, to arrive at solutions that empower them instead of leaving them hamstrung.
With so much talk of CIOs needing to step into more strategic roles, this is one area in which only they can help the C-Suite see the light. Communicating the needs of the business to corporate leaders who hold on to hierarchical processes will be a challenge, but one that requires immediate attention if you’re serious about transforming your business.