7 Ways the IT Function will Change in the Digital Future


We expect tomorrow's business environment to be characterised by even more dynamic working practices, boundless agility and rapid time to market. With technology at the heart of many business processes, it is clear that new trends and technologies will significantly shape the Digital IT Function of the future.

In this article, we combine our industry knowledge with the views of our C-Suite clients to create a picture of the digital IT function of the future. The article examines the impact technology developments will have on Strategy, Structure, Governance, Systems, Style, Staff and Skills.

1. Strategy:

We expect IT to preside over technology that directly impacts the customer experience and the business's ability to make more informed decisions impacting the strategy level in two ways. The business will treat IT as a function that can generate business income rather than an overhead cost. Secondly, IT teams will take a more business-savvy approach when developing their own strategy.

The trend toward cloud adoption will also mean that IT teams will likely only keep strategically important services in-house as. The business will outsource others to third-parties who can manage services more efficiently and effectively to support the organisation.

Business Intelligent Strategies will consolidate all data to the organisation enabling more informed strategic decisions regarding identity, positioning, target markets, key initiatives and investment opportunities quicker than ever before.

2. Structure

The IT function will serve two distinct and contrasting purposes of keeping the lights on and enabling innovation. Through the delivery of innovative IT services, the organisation can meet business can meet changing business and user needs and leverage new technology.

Businesses need to structure the IT department differently to serve these two functions. The more traditional function will be much smaller due to outsourcing most applications and infrastructure. IT Project Management and Business Support will provide the necessary skills and resources to implement business projects and enable change. Innovation Management Teams will provide the ability to assess and adopt new technology seamlessly.

3. Governance

The traditional IT function will become more devolved. The central IT function will have less control as business intelligence software drives efficiencies across the business, decentralising governance structures.

Operating in a two-mode state, finding the optimum balance between agility and innovation, and stability and security will be paramount. Organisations need to give a lot of thought when developing a governance structure that caters to the different speeds of operating and different appetites for risk. A good governance structure should not compromise the ability to interact and collaborate.

Risk, however, still needs to be treated just as seriously by teams looking to innovate. Service Level Agreements will form the bulk of an organisation's risk mitigation rather than internal processes, technology and staff. Organisations will be much more comfortable with the notion of data sitting outside of the company firewall, providing it has sufficient confidence in its third-party providers and contracts that bind them.

For those systems that remain in-house, automation will mean that Business Continuity Planning will place greater emphasis on preventing malicious cyber-attacks, rather than mitigating for human error.

4. Systems

There will be considerably fewer legacy systems managed by the IT department of the future. Legacy systems usually cause unwanted risks and issues, taking up valuable time and resources to maintain. Businesses will move what they can to the cloud and divisions may use an 'app store' purchase applications from the cloud.

Sandbox environments will exist to test new applications within the business at low risk. Tolerance of failure will, therefore, be lower and a 'fail-fast' approach to new systems will prevail. Agile development and rapid change will be the key to ensuring success in a fast-paced digital world. Data-driven insight will become the norm as the mantra will focus on improving the customer experience through technology enablement.

5. Style

The IT Department will work closely with the business and become more open, friendly and collaborative. IT will demonstrate leadership, showing the business new ways to solve problems and identify new opportunities. There will be a particular focus on generating thought leadership to share within the business and drive the adoption of a digital business through education. The department will be more empowered to say 'yes', overcoming the barriers that would have once prevented the business from achieving objectives.

6. Staff

The IT team will have a much smaller headcount than ever before. Staff need to be friendly and approachable with good social skills to improve the internal perception of IT and customer faith in their services. Technical acumen will not be enough. The rest of the business will also have a higher degree of awareness and will represent individuals that are increasingly more comfortable with a high rate of change.

7. Skills

IT will have business support and project delivery skills at its disposal. The team will consist of 'innovation people' with a mix of technical know-how and business customer understanding. They will be able to sell new ideas to the business and manage both business and systems change through data-driven insights and analytics. Skills in manipulating data sets through technology tools will be the norm.

Today, almost all business processes are either enabled by some form of technology or could benefit from some form of digitisation.

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