Gary, the new CIO of a midsize retail company, has been challenged by his CEO to kickstart a plan to bring the business into the digital age. He’s not alone in facing this challenge and he knows, if done correctly, the company could reap real rewards. In fact, by 2023, midsize enterprises (MSEs) that use proven digital workplace techniques adeptly to foster their workforce’s digital dexterity will be twice as likely to be top performers.
The first step is for Gary to tackle what MSE CIOs consider the biggest challenge: Cultural change and digital maturity.
“You must take advantage of the inherent versatility of IT and business associates, and bring the two groups closer together,” says Joe Mariano, senior research analyst for Gartner. “This will help minimize dependency on IT resources and extend the reach of the enterprise by leveraging information and technology more fully. However, this requires deep discipline, so you will probably need to re-evaluate control mechanisms.”
By giving the business the tools they need to do their jobs better, the enterprise becomes more versatile and agile, people are more engaged and productive, and IT has more time to spend on digital transformation. To move the business toward digital business while dealing with the unique challenges of an MSE, Gary must improve collaboration between the business and IT.
Bridge the gap
To initiate the digital changes, MSEs need multidisciplinary teams from across the business who offer a variety of skills but are working toward a shared vision. It’s important to select the right people for this team, as success for the rest of the company depends on the members leading by example.
- Identify IT versatilists to use as ambassadors to the business
CIOs need to identify I&O versatilists to act as ambassadors. Versatile roles make up an average of 63% of IT staff, which should offer a few options for CIOs of IT team members to align with the business units. Look specifically for those with demonstrated nontechnical skills such as business intelligence, but who are also knowledgeable about software development, digital product management and IT architecture. These roles will be responsible for selling the vision, so make sure to choose wisely.
- Empower business employees to identify gaps in collaboration
Tap into employees’ foundational knowledge and translate it into processes. This works particularly well in MSEs with versatile employees — they are able to provide insight into the business, as well as how the different departments interact.
- Bring the ambassadors and the empowered together
The third step is to bring together these two groups of people to form the overall digital business team. The goal is not to focus on specific technology improvements, but rather to consider digital strategy across the company and guide new digital experiences. Showcase the value of the digital workplace by sharing success stories.