digital – like the Tardis, bigger on the inside

IT departments have the most to gain from digitalToo often IT teams, and by extension the CIO, become the “naysayers” of the digital agenda. It’s doubly a shame, because IT itself has the most to gain from the opportunities that digital IT brings.

If you work in the IT function you know that there is as much work to do behind-the-scenes in terms of security, resilience, scalability and long term supportability, as there is in the “front of house” functionality and user experience. And it’s these elements that are often missed in the user-led digital projects. As a consequence, the IT team becomes awkwardly positioned as the naysayer of the change. If this cycle repeats over time, the IT team can fall into a default attitude set against a digital agenda.

Not only is this bad for the IT brand, because nobody likes a moaner, but it’s also a missed opportunity. The nature of digital technologies means that IT has more than anyone else to gain from their adoption.

For years IT teams have been wrestling with the better, faster, cheaper conundrum. Disparate systems created using different technologies are hard to connect together. Alongside that, the overhead of testing even small changes in monolithic systems mean that any change, however small, takes an age. This leads IT to batch up changes for economies of scale, but which makes the speed problem worse not better.

However, the open sourced, web-services enabled, continuously-integrated platforms that digital approaches bring provide a different answer to these problems. Indeed, even if there were no new functionality to deliver, the speed and efficiency benefits of the new approaches would make the transformation worthwhile. Look at what GDS is achieving for the UK government.

If you find yourself falling in to the trap of being the digital naysayer, you are cutting off your nose to spite your face. Modern web technologies increase the productivity of developers by an order of magnitude. And the software engineering and architectural approaches that are have evolved around them present a real solution to the better, faster, cheaper dilemma. IT teams need to step forward into the digital space to embrace and influence the agenda to drive benefit outside, but more importantly inside, the function.

digital – like the Tardis, bigger on the inside

Rob works with technology start ups and leading retailers on the impact and opportunities of digital technologies

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