Corporate IT departments are a likely starting point for digital innovation initiatives, but they also tend to be avoided in many cases. The contrast of technical expertise with legacy system responsibility creates confusion and opposing challenges. IT is often viewed as the department of slow and no, as one client eloquently stated.
The role of IT in innovative and digital initiatives needs better definition so it more readily contributes to the growth of new technologies. Lorna Garey’s InformationWeek podcast with Mike Healey, president of Yeoman Technology Group, an engineering and research firm focused on maximizing technology investments, shaped much of the following.
IT Innovation and Digital
As the tech savvy group of most companies, IT is often the division best suited to jump start digital innovation. But as innovation gains traction, IT needs to quickly step back and let the innovation find it’s appropriate home within the organization. Digital is not a different business, it’s a part of the business.
In the earliest days of the Internet, there was a constant distinction between online and offline. The newness of online created a perception that online was a new business. It was not. It’s all part of our business environment. If you’re selling, it’s a sales role – regardless of location. Customer complaints involve customer service regardless if they occur on site, on the phone or on social media.
But online is now digital, and digital is not just rapidly growing, it’s rapidly evolving – sprouting new opportunities and inventions all the time. That’s what makes IT a natural proving ground for exploration and testing with its tech savvy resources.
Starting Innovation vs. Running a Business
IT innovation is about testing new ideas and identifying fledgling businesses. Whether it’s digital or some other innovation, when it’s beyond testing and moving into execution, individual lines of business need to take over and scale the business. That line of business needs to prepare and staff accordingly so the right skill set is in place to ensure the ongoing success of the project.
As Digital Moves Mobile
As online became digital, digital is becoming mobile. And for mobile, an app is not like a web site. It’s a product with a defined life cycle. It’s product development in the traditional sense. You’re building a product today that has a recurring development cycle. It’s not a build it and leave it process. Apps are updated with every OS revision. They cannot be treated like a core system for the company with a shelf life of years. Your mobile strategy needs to encompasses an entire chain of connections with regular iterations.
The role of IT is not just one of maintaining legacy systems. IT plays a role in navigating the pace of change of the current business environment. IT brings the central leadership and support to define, design and implement the infrastructure that a business will grow into.