Author: Paul Oppong

Paul Oppong is a management, strategy, and business transformation consultant, specializing in digital transformation and program management. He helps clients navigate the ever-changing landscape of business Technology, using his expertise to deliver evidence-based solutions that exceed their performance expectations. Paul Oppong has a global outlook and has assisted organizations in both the public and private sectors, including some of Africa’s largest financial institutions and Australian government agencies, in realizing the benefits of their transformational investments through project and portfolio management. For more information visit www.pauloppong.com

Four Disruptive Questions to Spark Innovation in Project Teams

The year was 2007, people were in love with blackberry phones, and Nokia was still a major smartphone player.

The same year that’s remembered for excellent pop music and breakthroughs that became significant milestones in world history. Whether it’s the housing bubble finally bursting in the US, or the launch of Roadster from Tesla, things were happening fast. Plus, the most significant change which was Apple releasing a revolutionary product called the iPhone. A move that changed the smartphone market forever and change it did!

The release of the iPhone leads to an instant disruption for every other big name, including Google, which initiated the process to adjust their Android platform as per the new expectations. It was a time of radical innovation making everyone think hard because Apple just made several technologies outdated in a matter of hours. That’s precisely where some of the big names went entirely wrong. Established brands like Blackberry and Nokia only relied on two major factors to stay relevant – their position in the industry and the brand loyalty of their customers.

Whereas the management and employees at Apple were able to exploit the big gaps in the market, something that industry leaders (read blackberry and Nokia) were not able to identify and act on.

What’s the Learning Here?

If you’re unable to innovate in time, even the most loyal customers, and powerful foundations are of no actual use. Innovation is probably the only factor that separates best from the rest. Revolutionary products and services are usually a result of an environment that encourages unorthodox ways of seeing gaps in the market and creating path-breaking products to fill those spaces. Combining old and new thoughts to create something “new” is what takes you to the next level.
As senior executives at IDEO, a Silicon Valley-based organization known for award-winning innovation said, “Top creativity happens when there is an intersection of different perspectives.” Based on experience, here are four somewhat unique and practical questions you need to ask yourself to spark innovation within the project team.

#1 – Have You Embraced Diversity as An Engine of Powerful Innovation?

When it comes to innovation, “There is a business case for diversity,” says Richard S Warr, a veteran on the topic. Although, there are several times when organisations may have somewhat shaky reasons for promoting diverse teams, if done for the right reasons, a more diverse team means you have team members with broader range of interests and backgrounds to draw upon. Since culture and upbringing plays an essential role in how a person tries to solve a problem, a diverse project team will be able to offer different solutions than expected.

That’s precisely what credible research has already proven. Once you have the incredible advantage of a diverse set of team members working towards a common goal, your responsibility as a leader is to make sure they feel welcomed to propose novel ideas. Ensure “outside the box” ideas are heard and implemented in due time. Organisations should work hard to hire the precious gems – not promoting useless propaganda just to fulfill respective minority quotas.

#2 – Are You Ready for The Art of Fearless Brainstorming?

The only way to capture innovative themes is to encourage your team members to go off track, not worrying they’ll dive into the unexplored rabbit holes. Remember, the aim is to go divergent ways, which is entirely different from being unfocused. For instance, let’s say you’re trying to use common age-old assumptions in your industry to trigger a few ideas.

First, compile a set of assumptions which include consumer trends, positioning, pricing, and more. Now, have an active group discussion brainstorming all ideas based on these assumptions, even the crazy, weird and the wacky ones. Don’t forget to encourage every team member to push their limits and consider every related possibility. Now gather each one of these ideas. Pin it on a board and vote the best ones.

This free-willed process to spark new ideas works every time given that team members are allowed to go as far as they want to. Brainstorming is all about throwing random things out there letting the minds wander. The immediate sense of comfort that team members feel while expressing their thoughts would surface the most innovative ideas that you could never imagine in the first place.


Advertisement

#3 – Do You Have A Precise Plan to Act on New Ideas?

Assuming you have generated innovative ideas from one of these brainstorming sessions. Now is the time to think whether you have a well-devised plan to evaluate these insights. There are many organizations, who’re unable to evaluate the ideas within a fixed timeframe. That’s a pity.

Even the organizations and teams which stress upon the importance of innovation have no real method or turnaround time baked into their processes for idea evaluation. Here’s how you resolve this entire tricky situation with a simple 3-step process:

  • First, create a transparent mechanism for capturing and documenting new ideas.
  • Second, devise clear-cut criteria you will use to assess the viability of ideas presented to you every week
  • Third, designate a diverse team that are responsible for evaluating these innovative ideas and replying within 72 hours.

The third step brings us to the last point.

#4 – How Do You Build A Bridge Between Leadership and The In-House Innovators?

The only reason why team members are not interested in sharing their out of the box ideas is this, “There is no sense of confidence whether their voice would reach the Leaders.” This restricted interaction between employees and management is a giant turnoff. It’s probably the biggest enemy of innovation.

Once you have a list of ideas evaluated, ready to move to the next stage, leaders should weigh in and give their inputs on these insights as soon as possible. Eliminate the bureaucratic obstacles and demolish the proverbial wall that stands in your way. Create a defined structure around the feedback process, and you’ll see an increasing contribution from every team member.

Summary

Formalizing perspective innovation pipelines can lead to sustainable results. Creating and handling innovative ideas is the real differentiator for why some organisations grow and others remain flat. It’s the perfect time to use these four questions to nurture your team and help those who’re on the cusp of an innovative breakthrough. All they need is support and a concrete mechanism.

Three Effective Ways to Implement Digital Governance

A key component of any digital IT transformation project is ensuring good management.

The reality is that as many as 70% of change programmes of this scale fail. Ensuring that there is a good IT governance structure and budgeting process in place can help mitigate some of the risks associated with this type of change. Importantly, that does not necessarily mean simply digitizing the existing processes that are in place. Rather, it means setting up operations in such a way that both governance and budgeting processes are aligned to effectively handle the scale of IT change that is occurring.

Why Are Changes Needed to Governance And Budgeting For Digital Change?

The primary reason for changes to governance and budgeting structures and processes is that business cycles are much faster than ever before. Organisations must act quickly, or there is a very high chance that they will miss the boat. In this fast-paced environment, waiting for archaic and disparate committees and bureaucracies to make decisions simply will not work. The structure must be overhauled to deal with the speed of change. This is important to ensure that compliance and security can be delivered in good time, ready for the launch of new digital products and services.

Compliance with regulations is critical. There is a good deal of risk associated with non-compliance. Confidentiality has become a major issue for customers, worried about how their data is being used and shared, and governments are stepping up and acting. For example, in May 2018 the European Union introduced new regulations known as “GDPR”. This limits the extent to which customer data can be used – it must only be used for the purpose it was given. It also limits the ability of companies to share customer data. Companies that do not comply face hefty fines. Other countries’ governments have also put in place regulations to limit the use of customer data. This aside, the damage that can be done to a company’s brand as a result of leaks or misuse of company data is very high indeed. What’s more, in the age of social media, negative opinions can spread about a company very quickly online, and the company’s level of control over this is very limited. Compliance is clearly critical, and good governance can avoid running into these issues.

Governance

Getting the governance in place and right is essential to effecting digital change successfully. Indeed, Cap Gemini has performed research which shows that, “governance is a key determinant of success in managing digital transformation.”
Decision makers in governance for digital IT projects need to have a clear understanding and appreciation of the drivers of change. They also need to be able to act and make decisions quickly. In the past, many hours may have been spent toiling over ensuring a product was just right before launching it to the public. However, now it is all about getting a minimum viable product out there in front of the customer and making changes iteratively instead. Customer feedback helps with improving the product to better meet with customer requirements. This requires a massive change of mindset from the past, when “right first time” was considered critical. Nonetheless, even with minimum viable products it is essential to ensure regulatory compliance. Therefore, appropriate governance is required.

Ways to Implement Digital Governance

Studies have shown that there are a variety of ways in which digital governance can be operationalized in organisations. I have personally seen that three of these are more effective than the rest and they are: shared digital units; committees at the firm level; and new roles better suited to digital. In greater detail these are:

Shared digital units – instead of having isolated local units trying to address digital challenges, it is logical to bring people together under shared, collaborative digital units. This saves time and money, as the one shared digital unit can make decisions and learn together, rather than several isolated units trying to do this independently. Specializing in this way also enables the organisation to develop the digital skills it needs faster, in turn enabling faster adaptation to digitization. Knowledge and learning can be shared within such a group, and innovation encouraged. There may sometimes be challenges with shared digital units in terms of how to organize the structure, but it is well worth trying to overcome these issues.


Advertisement

Committees at the firm level – having a committee at the firm level can help to ensure that digital transformation is governed effectively within the organisation. This can be helpful in making sure that resources are appropriately assigned across the most important digital projects. It is also useful in ensuring compliance is achieved. A digital committee at the firm level builds up the skills, experience and know-how so that it can offer effective governance for these types of projects. Such a committee can work to prioritize projects, ensure that policies get approved, and make sure that decisions are made regarding the decision to work on a project centrally or locally. This type of committee is effective because it has oversight of all the digital projects – while the situation of small, local committees can be severely hampered in this regard.

New roles better suited to digital – sometimes organisations perform best with these new digital activities when they have leaders in place who are primed to lead and manage the digital transformation. Cap Gemini refers to these individuals as “Digital Tsars”. Creating a Chief Digital Officer or “Digital Tsar” role can be most beneficial in ensuring that the digital vision is delivered to, and that it is consistent across different platforms and media. Staff can also be hired that can liaise between different groups within the business to help them identify areas for adaptation in the new digital world. These would typically be individuals that have worked on digital transformation projects elsewhere and have value to add in terms of experience and know-how, to help the organisation adapt.

Once these types of adjustments have been made to governance for digital, it is also highly recommended that the organisation implements digital platforms. This is recommended in terms of gaining an overall, single and consistent view of customers.

Budgeting

The annual budgeting process simply will not work for digital transformation projects. The speed at change at which digitization is occurring will mean that even by the time the annual budget has been approved, it will probably be out of date already. I have found that where organisations have been most successful with digital change, they have ensured they have an appropriate process in place for digital budgeting. This means that projects can get approved as and when needed, rather than waiting months – by which time, the opportunity may have been and gone. Time is of the essence, and decisions must be taken quickly.

As can be seen from the governance section, above, implementing new means of digital governance, such as a digital committee at the firm level can really make the difference here. With one committee deciding how investments and funds should be allocated, prioritization between different digital initiatives can be much more effective than if different small, local units are trying to do this in an isolated fashion. With one entity overseeing things, decision making is optimized and economies of scale can be achieved – which is also important to keep the costs of digital initiatives down.

Summary

The old forms of governance and budgeting are very unlikely to work effectively in a digital world. These ways of working are typically not able to move sufficiently quickly to ensure that opportunities can be snapped up. There are also a range of pressures, such as the need to meet regulatory compliance requirements that require a certain level of expertise that companies may not be able to do without adaptation. All of this means that organisations need to adapt and develop new forms of governance and budgeting that are better suited to the current business environment faced. Some recommended approaches are having single shared digital units, having a digital committee at the firm level to make decisions on priorities and to ensure compliance, and introducing new digital roles to help facilitate change. All of these types of approaches will help the organisation to save money in its digital transformation, particularly through benefiting from economies of scale. These methods also help companies develop a certain level of expertise and know-how quickly when compared with a more scattered and less centralized approach that I have seen in some organisations.

Six Essential Skills for a First-Time Project Manager

With strict budgets, short deadlines, new processes, and a plethora of management decisions to be made, life is never easy for a first-time project manager.

An efficient PM is also expected to have a deep understanding of personnel management, risk management, and data-driven progress analysis. Even though this seems like a lot to do all at once, these challenges gradually become easier with time. 
However, as a new project manager, it is your responsibility to stay sharp and up to the speed so you can maintain your competitive edge. You will be expected to become the leader you promised during the hiring process, resting on your laurels is out of the question. A decent certification might help, but it does not guarantee success in day-to-day operations, and it all comes down to a few inherent skills that a good project manager must possess. Here’s a list of six skills that you need to develop right from day one.

#1 – Become a Problem Solver

When you’re starting out, there’s struggle, uneasiness, and way too many questions that need an answer. The best way to look at every tough situation is to consider it a challenge that will help you grow while you cement a place in a new environment. It’s all about training your mind not to panic and to trust your guts as a genuine problem solver. Don’t forget to look from every possible angle. You can always reach to a senior, mentor, or someone you look up to for finding a solution. This is the first skill that you need in your arsenal.

#2 – Manage Your Time Like a Champ

Time management is another vital trait that can help you stay on top of things. Being aware of the exact deadlines, the strength of your team members, and the knowledge to use every resource at your disposal are all essential facets of managing your time. In most ways, time management is nothing but the ability to manage the tasks at hand while meeting your targets and sticking to your timelines. Someone who manages their time efficiently is usually seen as a thorough professional commanding respect and authority both from peers and senior management.

#3 – Be Flexible

A new project manager can never stay away from constraints like strict schedule, low-budget, and the feeling of being understaffed. These are part and parcel of the game, and you need to showcase your flexibility by handling these obstacles. Most new candidates talk about flexibility as their strength before they are hired for a job. You need to prove it right from day one. Just manage the resources at hand with maximum precision and be a little proactive. As they say, project management is all about planning for a change. 

Advertisement

#4 – You Must Be a Solid Negotiator

Managing a team full of experienced pros with distinct personalities is a bit of a challenge if you’re new to the organization. Naturally, you must make some compromises and utter “no” at more than a few occasions. After all, it’s not possible to give every team member what they want. However, you need to develop the skill to balance your odds while keeping the team interest on the top. Being a master negotiator is a skill that saves you from a lot of turmoil and unease. It is surprising how much of the modern project management has come down to just being a good negotiator.

#5 – Risk Management

One of the core responsibilities of a new project manager is to foresee any possible risk that may pose a threat to your project. The process of risk management is nothing but identifying and responding to every potential risk that’s associated with the project. Sometimes these risks are unpredictable and jump out of the blue. As a project manager, you need to assess the situation and prepare quick and effective solutions. If required, you might have to use certain damage control measures just to make sure that things don’t go out of hands. Life is unfair, and you might have to juggle a few hot potatoes. Deal with it. Even if you failed to handle a situation first time around, don’t panic and learn and develop risk management skill through experience.

#6 – Lead by Example

A project manager is probably the “go to leader” in most situations. The onus and the responsibility lies with the PM for the success and the failure of a project. This means fixing the underlying issues and obstacles as soon as possible; anticipating and expecting risks before they happen. A project manager is responsible for setting a vision for the team, and then doing everything in their capacity to realize that vision. It comes down to leading the team by example.
As a new manager, you cannot shy away from showing your team how it’s done. It’s also important for your own growth because if you’re not able to lead a team well in the first few days of you joining the organization, it becomes tough to gain respect from your team members. If you are facing a bit of a trouble to settle in, it’s always recommended to reach out to your mentors or participate in specific skill development programs to get better.

Summary

At the end of the day, being a new PM can be overwhelming. Even with the knowledge of all the skills mentioned above, you might make a few mistakes in the first couple of months. The idea is to learn from those mistakes quickly and continuously improve your skills. In fact, not every new project manager is expected to be on top of their game, especially at the beginning. It’s never easy, and the position requires an extensive range of skill set. All you can do is adapt fast and keep learning. Are you ready for it!

When It Comes To The Evolving PMO, One Size Does Not Fit All

The Project Management Office (PMO) is facing challenging times.

As pressure mounts to deliver projects at speed, some of the more traditional types of PMO are struggling. They in some cases fail to deliver what the business needs. This has led to increased scrutiny of PMOs. While some believe the PMO is in its demise, it appears more likely that PMOs will evolve to meet the needs of business instead. In fact, a study of companies in the USA show that the PMO is very much alive and well. While 48% of companies had a PMO in 2000, as of 2014, this figure had grown to 80%. This would seem to suggest that the traditional PMO may not remain in its previous format, but there is likely to still be a PMO within the organisation – just that it may look different and operate in new ways.

Drivers of Change to the PMO

One of the major drivers of change to the PMO has been digitisation. While this process has been ongoing since the 1980s it has rapidly accelerated in the past decade or so. Organisations have found that they have to become digital to adapt to the business environment, and this has led to significant change from the perspective of project management. Rather than being departmental or functional initiatives, digitisation projects tend to impact on various areas of the organisation and are closely tied up with the organisational strategy. This has led to a need for the projects to be managed in line with strategy. With priorities constantly changing, to keep up with the fast speed of change in the business environment, project management also needs to adapt quickly, and the PMO has an important role to play in this regard. In short, all organisations need to be digitally enabled, with projects aligned to strategy, and the business must also have the agility to change as needed when faced with evolving business priorities.

The Role of Strategy

In the past, the PMO was all about project execution. However, one trend that can be seen in PMOs is a move towards strategic project management. Experts believe that this has come about due to the growth of project portfolios. PMOs have seen an increasing level of interdependence between project portfolios as well. One way in which PMOs can add value is in helping the organisation manage the scarce resources available where synergies can be found between projects in a portfolio. The PMO is very well placed to pinpoint these areas and align resource accordingly.

From the perspective of strategy, the PMO is also in an excellent position to ensure that project prioritisation is effective. It is likely that no other function of the organisation has this level of oversight and project understanding to achieve this effectively. This helps the organisation to act efficiently in its project management endeavours.


Advertisement

One Size Does Not Fit All

One trend that can certainly be seen among PMOs is that there is no one size fits all approach that can simply be applied for organisations. It is likely that the only for-certain similarity between PMOs in different organisations. That similarity is that the PMO is a unit in the organisation that takes a central role for coordinating and overseeing project and programme management. The PMO may not even necessarily be called a PMO, but if it takes this role, then this is what it is.

Some of the differences between PMO types are with regard to what the PMO does. The PMO may only provide project management support, or it may take a much more rigorous approach to project management. The former may be seen in a more supportive role. There are degrees of control that might be involved in the latter. PMOs that might be described as controlling might require compliance and the use of certain project management frameworks and tools. Some PMOs might be more directive and actually manage projects.

Other differences in PMOs can be seen according to the organisational position they operate at. For example, some organisations have a corporate level PMO which develops standards, processes and methodologies. Other firms have departmental PMOs that offer support at the business unit level, helping with a variety of projects. Finally, individual PMOs offer functional support, usually to one project or programme.

What Does an Evolved PMO Look Like?

Traditional PMOs offered delivery support. More recently, some PMOs have also taken on an element of strategic planning and act as a centre of excellence with regard to managing projects and programmes effectively. Many have also worked to help the company digitise. However, the evolved PMO does all this and more. One of the elements of the evolved PMO that is new, is ensuring that project and programme management are aligned to strategy. The other is delivering the agility the organisation needs as priorities change for the organisation.

An evolved PMO will not just offer project support, as the PMO may have in the past. Rather it may help with coordination of resource management, and analysing the interfaces between projects. It can help address issues of strategic alignment and portfolio management. The PMO may still also offer consulting internally to other parts of the organisation, but this is likely to decline in importance compared to the growth in strategic responsibilities of the PMO.

Evolved PMOs have a lot to offer to organisations, but to achieve success they will require the backing and support of the senior management team. Given that the role and function of the PMO has changed significantly in the evolved PMO from one of support to a much more strategic role, this requires a change in mind set.

In some cases, the PMO has evolved to the point that it is offered in the form of PMO as a service. PMO as a Service companies offer specialist PMO support to organisations that find it difficult to manage the PMO effectively in-house. This is an interesting new direction for PMOs, and one that has its merits in certain scenarios.

Summary

The PMO is facing a time of unprecedented change. As pressure has increased in the external business environment, there is a corresponding pressure within the organisation to ensure that project management is not just effective, but strategic. An evolved PMO is likely to be well positioned to help the organisation achieve its strategic imperatives, but it is unlikely that a one size fits all approach will work.

The Yin-Yang of Aligning (digital) Business and IT Models

Yin-Yang is a fundamental concept in Chinese philosophy where seemingly opposite or contrary forces are interconnected and interdependent on each other.

These forces complement each other as they interrelate. The interaction between Yin and Yang establishes harmony as well as a needed balance.

One activity that all digital businesses must be good at in order to succeed, is aligning their information technology (Yin) with the business (Yang), to ensure that organizational objectives can be achieved.

This needs to be delivered in a dynamic manner given that the business environment is experiencing tremendous change and is continually in a state of flux.

The move to digitalization is itself one of the most significant and continual changes that the business must adapt to, but there are lots of others. The pressures and ongoing requirement for technological change have led to a need for new collaboration and alignment models, so that the business can respond effectively.

Agility

Given the increasing pressures of digitization on the business, alignment between it and IT is essential. It is important to take a strategic approach towards planning IT so that business imperatives can be met.

One theme of alignment models to support digital which arises repeatedly is that of agility. The days of IT strategic plans spanning several years are over. IT must be able to respond quickly to meet business needs as they evolve over time. This means being able to quickly deploy new technology to allow the organization to take advantage of opportunities. The old model through which IT and the business worked together does not allow this to be achieved.

Old Models of Business and IT Alignment

The traditional sense of collaboration between the business and IT was one where the business required support from IT to install technology which would support business processes. The business told IT what it needed.

Following this, IT would gather business requirements and produce a solution that hopefully met those needs. While this worked for decades in the past, it is no longer sufficient to meet business needs.

The old model does not recognize that technology now has a massive influence over the directions the business can take, and the opportunities it brings for change for the better for the organization.

The Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) bring considerable opportunities for many businesses, but without IT taking a strategic role, the business is unlikely to recognize the importance of these or benefit from them in the ways that it could.

Technology professionals are better placed to be ahead of the game and to help the business identify possible opportunities that could be brought about from leveraging new technologies.

Strategic IT Planning, Digital Business Strategies and Pervasive Models

The new approach for business and IT alignment recognizes that IT is no longer simply responsible for putting in place technology that will support business processes. Rather, technology is a driver of the business and shapes its future directions. Under the new model, business strategy and IT strategy are closely interlinked and aligned. In addition, internal and external drivers for change are considered and addressed.

There are two possible ways for collaboration to come about. This can either be IT driven, where IT strategy leads to the development of the organizational infrastructure or, it may be business driven, with the business strategy helping to define the IT infrastructure. Either way, for the alignment to work best it will be two-way, so that organizations can fully leverage the opportunities brought about by digital and other emerging technologies.

New models of alignment and collaboration between the business and IT no longer view the IT function as just a cost centre, or as an asset for raising efficiency. Rather, these models embrace IT as a force that can contribute to the overall value proposition, and as an enabler or shaper of exciting new business models. This transforms IT from taking an operational role to a strategic one within the organization.


Advertisement

Most analysts in the IT sector recognize and advocate the need for strategic IT planning. I too also advocate this with all clients. My observation of working with a wide range of customers is that those companies that do not put in place strategic IT planning are less likely to be competitive. This means they are more likely to fail.

These studies have shown specifically that strategic alignment between IT and the business is also linked to a lack of ability to develop an effective digitization strategy.

New forms of alignment and collaboration between IT and the digital business need to recognize that change is ongoing and that this situation is permanent.

This leads naturally to the development of digital business strategies, which arguably go beyond simple alignment between IT and the business. Rather, some research analysts have argued for business and IT strategies that become one and the same thing, working in synergy and cohesively.

This approach to collaboration and alignment between IT and the business enables a proactive approach. Such a methodology allows the business to decide what the future will be and bring it about, drawing on technological development to deliver this destiny. This has already been observed with technology acting as a disruptive driver for industry change in many sectors. Experts refer to this as the “pervasive model”.

The pervasive model is one whereby IT delivers the technological infrastructure, and the business is able to utilize it to meet its needs. Under this type of working arrangement there is a very close relationship between IT and the business. Since IT knows which technologies may be of benefit to the business through its close relationship with the same, it can deliver new technology into the infrastructure. This model is believed by some to be the most effective for anticipating business needs, implementing and supporting the organization and driving disruptive change.

What IT Needs to be Enabled to Do

To allow the business to reap the full range of rewards that technology can bring, IT needs to be enabled to drive change. The close working relationship between IT and the business needs to identify the new technology that could benefit the business and explore how this could add value for the organization. As part of the model, it must be able to implement new technologies into the infrastructure. Further, IT needs to be in a position to continually evaluate the infrastructure. This position both IT and the business to ensure that technologies that are becoming obsolete are replaced before this occurs, and that innovative new technologies are built in instead.

The Benefits of a Strategic IT Plan and Cohesive Alignment Between IT and the Business

It is important to understand the benefits these new ways of working bring about. The overarching benefit of a strategic IT plan which has been developed with a view of helping the business achieve its goals, is that these targets are more likely to be reached. (The act of creating a goal, makes you more likely to achieve the goal)

This is because IT and the business work together to ensure that IT understands the strategic imperatives and is set up to help the organization achieve them. Overall, this leaves the business in a much better position to be able to gain competitive advantage, or to become a first mover with technology in its industry. And once in this position, with the right types of collaboration and alignment in place with IT, it is much easier to stay ahead than playing catch up all the time.

Another important benefit is also that both IT and the business are better able to set priorities for digitization when working together. Research has shown that organizations that do not work towards developing new ways of working like this have been found to not prioritize as effectively. It allows organizations to move forward in new directions, benefiting from the ability to quickly deploy technology that enables cloud computing, mobility, personalization, big data, IoT and AI. Without developing an approach such as that highlighted above, the business may struggle to be sufficiently agile to take advantage of these types of innovations and developments.

Summary

In the brave new world that businesses find themselves in, being able to leverage technology rapidly and effectively for digitization and other purposes is essential to achieving and maintaining competitive advantage.

This means that businesses need to work closer with IT departments than ever before. It is no longer enough for IT to simply provide the infrastructure at the behest of the business. Rather, the two need to work closely together proactively, to ensure that the organization is equipped to take advantage of new technologies and drive disruptive change in its industry. This allows businesses to get ahead of their competitors, but it requires recognition that IT is an integral factor in achieving business success.