Historically, organizations have been considering IT (Information technology) as necessary cost-reducing business support like legal and HR. However, in current times, IT is transforming into a key business growth enabler for organizations to keep them ahead in the competitive corporate realm. However, there are still some businesses, especially small enterprises, who are facing challenges in transforming their IT departments into business and marketing enablers to gain business growth, competitive advantage, customer satisfaction, and entry into new markets. Digitally transformed companies earn 23% more profit than others. The stats show the performance and profitability boost a business can gain by transforming IT into a business enabler.
Transforming IT into a business and marketing enabler is undoubtedly a complex task. It requires immense planning and strategic execution of IT transformation initiatives. However, the fundamentals are based on three focus areas, i-e, process transformation, optimization of cost and resources, and management of legacy applications.
Transforming IT processes into a business enabler involves a number of steps and processes. Management and stakeholders have to work collaboratively to support the process. The transformation requires input from various business functions, planning, and implementation phase by phase. The main objective is to create synergy among IT and other organizational operations for optimized business growth and value generation for the organization.
The critical steps of process transformation are:
- Collaboration between business operations to identify the opportunities and pursue them to improve the overall performance of the organizational processes. Management and stakeholders define strategies and goals for IT function to reach business objectives. The operational processes are aligned with operational processes with IT support.
- Implementation of KPIs (key performance indicators) to measure and monitor progress. It is vital to analyze and adjust these KPIs in regular intervals to align them with business objectives.
- Defining frameworks, controls, and standards for business process design. The organization has to keep elements like security requirements, regulations, corporate direction, and compliance in mind.
Optimization of cost and resources
When you take IT integrated initiatives to optimize the cost and resources of the organization, your strategies should be designed to complement business objectives and enhancement in business. The control of cost and resources should add value to the business while freeing up the requirement for resources and company budget to be used in future opportunities.
The significant steps for targeted, structured, and strategic IT based optimization of cost and resources are:
- Reduction of IT costs by prioritizing the expenses.
- Optimization by introducing lean practices and removing waste to increase efficiency
- Rationalizing of IT portfolio by bringing initiatives into line with business priorities and objectives
- Transformation by investing in innovating and taking initiatives for business efficiency
Management of legacy applications
It is common for organizations to amass a legacy applications portfolio over the years. However, dependency on these applications becomes a challenge for agility and digital transformation. Most such applications do not have up-to-date documentation, making them dependent on deprecated and obsolete technologies. As a result, complex business regulations are encapsulated in millions of coding and glitches.
In this scenario, legacy applications pose severe challenges to the transformation process, becoming business risks in terms of compliance, security, and scalability perspective. However, an organization cannot move away from legacy applications without proper planning and approach despite the drawbacks. Following strategies can help in maintaining the organization’s operations and simultaneous implementation of innovations:
- Creating an inventory or portfolio of all the legacy applications
- Developing a map for business dependency and interdependency
- Creating strategy for replacement or modernization
- Prioritizing actions according to risk profile and business direction
KPIs to measure IT as Business Enablers
- Improved or new business opportunities through technology
- Cost reduction caused by Information technology
- Revenue generation by technology leverage through information technology
- The organization leveraging the technology to gain a competitive edge in the market
- The organization becoming a technology leader in the market
- The information technology department of the organization becoming center of profit
Security as a challenge during IT transformation
Cyber security is the biggest challenge while transforming IT into a business enabler. There are a lot of virtual threats that come with Information technology. Mainly, users are the most significant liability when it comes to the issue of a security breach in an organization. According to “Cost of a Data Breach Report of 2013” by Ponemon Institute, over one-third of data and security breaches are due to human error. Therefore, it is vital that you train your users to implement the best security practices during transformation. It is the only way to curb the breach of security in an organization because, so far, there is not a single data protection solution that can protect your digital environment from getting compromised.
Transforming IT into a business enabler is a challenging task. An organization must take a well-defined strategic approach, a comprehensive plan, and business-goal centric implementation to transform the firm successfully. Management and stakeholders must work collaboratively to execute the transformation plan. It is crucial for the IT department and management to have transparent communication with business stakeholders. All the parties have to be aligned through communication to understand each other in terms of insights, goals, issues, and ideas. Such communication will help the organization leverage technology to its full potential as a successful business enabler.
A competent team of technical engineers, business experts, user experience specialists, and quality assurance professionals can expedite transformation initiatives. Such initiatives require agility and focus on adapting the transformation for business growth. Together, the firm’s management, stakeholders, and employees can cross-function with an open-minded approach towards the transformation processes. The right mix of all these leads to successful IT transformation initiatives.