It takes more than leading-edge technologies to drive IT transformation. The real power behind both IT and digital transformation lies in the people — particularly those in IT.
The People That Power IT Transformation
Technological advances continue to revolutionize or at least reinvent and improve upon “business as usual.” Call it information technology (IT) transformation, digital transformation, or simply progress. But it’s not all the amazing technologies that are responsible for the changes. It’s the people behind the technologies, and not just the ones developing or using them.
The people that transform the right technologies and required services into business-optimizing, truly transformational solutions — and specify, implement, and maintain the infrastructure that makes them work and keep them working — are the leaders in IT transformation. They’re your IT staff and the IT professionals they partner with (like our team at US Signal) to power and support those solutions and the underlying infrastructure.
After all, marketing, product development, logistics, HR, and other departments may hear or read about the latest technology solutions and have ideas for how to use them to meet their needs, improve processes, and develop new products, services, or processes. But it’s the expertise, experience, and diligence of IT professionals — in-house staff and service providers alike — and their commitment to continuous improvement that makes those solutions operational.
That isn’t always easy. It’s not a matter of just procuring a new leading-edge CRM or CMS system, implementing artificial intelligence and machine learning, or saying “We’re going cloud-native.” There are integration, security, compliance, infrastructure, and a variety of other issues to consider. The budget comes into play as well, as does the availability — or lack thereof — of resources for researching, evaluating, specifying, procuring, testing, deploying, integrating, tracking the performance of, and maintaining any new technology solution.
IT professionals are used to balancing, shifting, and stretching resources and budgets as well as meeting tight deadlines. But in addition to the “make it happen” side of IT transformation, they increasingly need to drive the transformation.
That makes it all the more important for them to broaden their skillsets beyond what’s considered IT-centric. It also makes teaming up with the right IT service providers critical, particularly when it comes to specialty areas that must be drawn upon like compliance, security, and infrastructure.
IT Moves to the Spotlight
Much has been written about the fact that both IT and digital transformation are first and foremost human-led efforts. And it makes sense that the success of transformation initiatives will be dependent on whether the people who want and can benefit from the technology solutions actually embrace them and become evangelists for them. Not surprisingly, there’s a lot of information about cross-disciplinary change management and skills development to make that happen.
But what’s often missing in these discussions on “people are our greatest assets so let’s develop them” is the role IT professionals play. It’s not that their efforts aren’t valued. It’s that many companies assume whatever is needed in the way of IT, their IT staff will deliver. And if they can’t deliver it themselves, they’ll find a way to get the required outside services.
Fortunately, that attitude is changing as IT is increasingly seen as a strategic asset instead of as a service provider and cost center. As companies recognize the importance of technology in meeting business goals, they become more amenable to involving IT leaders in strategy setting and decision-making and not just relegating them to IT implementation and maintenance.
In fact, in some organizations, CIOs aren’t the only ones representing IT in the C-suite. Joining them are chief experience officers, chief security officers, chief compliance officers, chief data officers, chief mobility officers, chief technology officers, and chief digital officers, among others. But even without the C-level titles, it’s incumbent upon IT professionals to position themselves not just as technology implementers but as transformation leaders and change facilitators.
What It Takes to Lead Transformation
For IT professionals to become more visible for their roles in IT transformation and even take the lead in it, they need to:
Expand their professional skillsets as IT professionals and as strategic business leaders. That means knowing what’s now and what’s coming next in terms of technology and how to align these technologies to the achievements of organizations’ strategic goals and not just meeting an immediate need.
Position themselves as transformation consultants to other departments that are seeking out or are interested in new technologies that can change how they operate. That means not waiting to be asked to procure and implement a game-changing technology solution. Instead, IT professionals should work with other departments to assess their current and future needs, what solutions will best meet them, and the broader impact those solutions will have on other company needs and requirements.
Embrace being innovators and the use of creative problem-solving.
Seek out the expertise and services of solution providers and consultants to bolster resources, fill gaps, leverage new ways of thinking and best practices, and accelerate transformation progress. (See the section that follows.)
Enhance the “people skills” essential for leading cultural change. Among them: exceptional communication (and listening) skills, empathy, adaptability, and the ability to collaborate. A strong work ethic and a “go-beyond-what’s-required” attitude helps too.
Seek out IT professionals who have the above people skills (or are willing to develop them) as well as strong technical skills when adding staff.
Chances are you’ll be working with IT consultants and service providers to some extent, and their services will play key roles in the ability of your IT department to drive IT transformation. Choose them carefully.
Expertise in and experience with leading-edge technologies are both essential. But so are the people skills mentioned previously. You want and need consultants and service providers that communicate clearly, actively listen, collaborate as a normal way of interacting with you, and are willing to go the proverbial extra mile to help you meet your IT and IT transformation needs and goals.
The Power of US Signal’s People
Many IT service providers and consultants will tout the expertise and commitment of their staff. At US Signal, our customers are the ones that often do that, stating that our people are the reason they chose to work with us — and want to continue to do so. (Check out our customer stories
Whether by luck or strategy, we’ve been able to assemble a team of dedicated IT professionals with exceptional technical prowess, a strong work ethic, a passion for both technology and customer satisfaction, and a “whatever-it-takes” attitude. Our commitment to and appreciation of diversity means our team brings new ways of thinking and fresh perspectives, which contributes to our ability to innovate, build upon each other’s ideas and experiences, and employ creative problem solving and solution building.