In the second part of a two-part series about the future IT organisation, DXC Technology’s Sukhi Gill says three new IT chiefs could manage disconnected IT estates and make business data-driven. (Read Part One here)
A new power triumvirate, consisting of a chief each for data engineering, product management and design, would ensure that heritage IT keeps up with business IT and can serve the business. The team could fix disconnected heritage systems and business IT, which stem from poor integration, both physically and politically, says Sukhi Gill, DXC Technology’s vice president and chief technology officer for the United Kingdom, Ireland, Israel, the Middle East and Africa.
It’s a model he advocates after seeing enterprises struggle to keep the heritage and innovation pieces of their IT estates aligned. The consequences of failing to keep back-office systems up to speed with business software innovations can be dire, says Gill. “Too often customer experience software is released only to find it’s clunky because multiple steps in the back office haven’t been integrated.”
Data is the beating heart of any business, and organising around it better should be a priority for all IT organisations: ensuring data is mined, stored and shared at exactly the right time and way calls for a new expertise and discipline in the form of data engineering. A chief would ensure that data is evaluated and managed both at the centre and, increasingly, at the edge: Data stored on gadgets such as vacuum cleaners will provide more information about product performance and customer usage that will inform future product development.
With more data being acted on by algorithms at the edge — such as sending out automated alerts if product safety thresholds are breached — IT must continue to exert control centrally, says Gill. “You have to design in the fact that data is collected at the edge and used by dispersed applications. Data engineers must also ensure that data-gathering from edge devices is compliant with GDPR [General Data Protection Regulation] and other data regulations.”
End-to-end product management is the second pillar in the future IT organization recommended by Gill: Overseeing products from conception through development to after-sales keeps IT tight and integrated. “Developing a product at the moment is too often like ‘pass the parcel’,” he says. Having a single authority coordinate all stakeholders, approve the release of code and maintain relationships with end users takes friction out of the process, and is good for employees, customers and profits.
The third pillar of the new IT organization is user experience (UX) and design. Too often, IT is looking for the perfect solution and instead needs to borrow the DevOps ethos of “experiment and fail”. An experimental mode lets you build quicker and test against evolving user requirements, says Gill, adding: “In many organisations, design, user requirements and use cases are still mismatched. Designers must be the bridge between IT and business”.
“Data engineers need to be able to face off against product management and design chiefs and meet them halfway” says Gill, but he offers encouragement, too. Chief information officers (CIOs), who would remain in overall charge in the data-centric department, are in a good position. “They shouldn’t forget the middle initial of their title stands for information. It’s often overlooked.”