The dilemma how to re-engineer the organisation for digital consumes a lot of airspace and pivots on the questions of where digital expertise should reside and how it should be applied: whether to dismantle all departments and recreate cross-functional teams on a project-led basis, or to concentrate digital expertise and parachute this super department as a SWAT team on a need-to basis.
The centralised structure of IT deploying digital still finds favour with many incumbents because it is a familiar model, but it has its drawbacks. Mainly, it is slow to convert ideas into product and services, argues Macquarie Banking and Financial Services Group, chief digital officer, Luis Uguina, in this CMO Australia article.
“The traditional approach is to say what you want, deliver your vision to the IT team, then they come back in 16 months with everything,” he explains. “But 16 months is a long time in the market, and we’ll probably have a couple of new iPhones and technologies by then. You’re losing a lot of opportunities.”
Uguina revels in his designated role of what he calls “chief trouble-making officer” of the C-suite. His ultimate responsibility, he says, is to challenge the old ways of working and foster a culture that embraces customer experience in its core vision, agility as its mantra, and failure as a step towards success.
Open-source technology is part of the story, as is overhauling the physical layout of office space, with activity-based working and more open, flexible work environments. “Daily scrums and other collaborative ways of working change things too, to deliver as fast as possible, and we’ve changed the culture of the IT team to see open source as something that can increase innovation and speed,” Uguina reveals.
Like other large enterprises intent on transformation, such as Spanish telecommunications provider Telefónica, Macquarie has also been reducing team sizes and embedding cross-functional expertise. This means smaller groups are more empowered to make decisions and cross-functional teams are enabled to deliver any new product or concept from end-to-end.
Feedback from recent DXC digital manufacturing round table events confirms the shift of personnel from traditional IT and tech roles to digital roles and a parallel shift in discussion from IT to business focus. “I met one CIO [at the Stockholm event] who owned it all – the digital element, plus traditional IT – a scenario I would recommend,” commented Martin Rainern, DXC’s manufacturing lead.
IT is here to stay, but the emerging wisdom is that it needs to be embedded across the organization in order to be effective. And when it is allied to – or owns – the digital capability, it is a powerful combination indeed.