Disaster recovered

How IT leaders are paving the way for digital transformation

digital transformation

According to the 2021 State of the CIO survey, 82% of CIOs implemented new technologies, IT strategies, and/or methodologies over the past year.

Undoubtedly, this fast adoption of tech during the crisis has put many business myths to bed. Particularly, that IT teams are slow to respond or, worse still, unwilling to change the systems they’re using in-house. Indeed, 86% of CIOs surveyed by ServiceNow and ESI ThoughtLab said building a resilience-focused culture was a top area of responsibility.

On the contrary, these past 12 months have proven that when IT teams are fully supported with the tools they need to implement change, they can play a vital role in ongoing business resilience and success.

But some argue that this shift into more agile ways of thinking could only be temporary.

So how can IT leaders ensure that digital transformation lasts and the progress they’ve made isn’t short-lived?

1. Use the past as a template for the future

It’s easy to look back and criticise ourselves for not being resilient before the pandemic. However, we should be focusing on the positives that have come from the past 18 months, and using these as a template for the future.

For example, there would have been a time when a rapid switch to remote working seemed unfeasible. Now, a hybrid model of home-office working has become the norm for many businesses.

This shift to hybrid working has put employees at the centre of IT. It’s removed unnecessary business politics, with IT becoming a broker, not a blocker.

Perhaps the greatest marker for success is that the appetite for further change is there. The 2021 State of the CIO survey reports that 81% of respondents said automating IT business processes was a priority over the next 6 to 12 months.

By having a more agile IT team, businesses can focus on being proactive instead of reactive. The pendulum’s now swinging from disaster recovery to business continuity.

With that in mind, now’s the time to capitalise on this cultural shift and allow ourselves to be open to new and exciting ways of working.

2. Use technology to find a model that works for everyone

As we move toward some semblance of normality again, there’s still much debate over what the future of work—or workplaces in general—will look like.

There’s evidence on both sides. ADP Research’s report, ‘On-site, Remote or Hybrid: Employee Sentiment on the Workplace,’ concludes that on the whole, employees working on-site enjoy crucial advantages over their remote counterparts.

And yet Microsoft’s Work Trend Index research for 2021 found almost three-quarters of those surveyed want flexible remote work options to continue.

This tension indicates that, for many, a hybrid working model could be the answer going forward.

But whatever the ratio of home to office working a business decides on, it’s clear that IT will play a major role in making it work, helping employees get work done better, wherever they are, but also addressing issues that are part and parcel of more digital ways of working—not least a sharp rise in ransomware over the past few months, reported by the Guardian.

For businesses to succeed going forward, they must find that sweet spot between technology and collaboration. And IT teams are at the heart of the process.

3. Communicating and collaborating in changing times

If the pandemic’s taught us anything, it’s that communication is the one thing a business can’t afford to slack on—especially when workers are spread across different locations.

And although tools like Zoom, Slack, and Microsoft Teams have kept us digitally connected, they alone can’t transform a business.

Rather, it’s the people themselves who are the innovators in an organisation. To keep them at the heart of the business, technology must be in the service of employees—not the other way around.

Because the key to long-term success will be how well an organisation has adapted their ways of engaging with employees, including the tools they use. So rather than throwing technology at employees and seeing what sticks, they should shift their focus toward citizen engagement, where employees and IT teams work together to find solutions that work for everyone.

What’s more, if businesses are open to embracing new ways of working, they must also be prepared to look past the old and outdated metrics for success; instead, it’s a good idea to focus on employee satisfaction and effort scores as an indication of how you’re doing.

Sure, it won’t be easy. But innovative, measurable, and long-lasting progress rarely is. Adapting to new ways of working and developments as they arise is crucial for effective digital transformation. Because implementing the technology is only the beginning; it’s what we do with it that matters.

For more information on the role IT teams are playing in digital transformation, see the case studies in this guide.