Article

IT as a competitive factor – the crisis as an opportunity

The Covid-19 crisis as a driver and a crash course in virtuality

The Covid-19 crisis has brought companies, in fact the whole of society, onto a virtuality crash course, as it were: issues for which, in the past, long preparations and decision times were customary were introduced successfully and mastered in just a few days. Entire organizations have switched to working from home, introduced online selling, even generated entirely new product ranges together with corresponding conversion of processes or even entire value chains. Learning curves were climbed in just a few days.

Many of these changes will remain in place even after the crisis in both the commercial and private spheres. In the longer term, the degree of virtualization will continue to increase:

  • in business, for example, the conversion of individual value chains into robust value networks.
  • Social trends and new ways of thinking are additional drivers, including different views of travel, mobility, private life and the home, safety and health.

Companies have to anticipate the significance of the changes for their business, CIOs have to align the enterprise IT strategically and proactively with the expected effects.

Challenge: role and positioning of IT

Key in this context is the positioning and role of IT in the company:

  • modern approaches such as iterative software development on the basis of agile principles like scrum and Kanban, areas such as DevOps, continuous integration and delivery and interaction with “legacy IT” have now become standard and the associated distribution of roles has been assimilated. In many cases, agile IT approaches have even been expanded to non-IT organizations and entire companies.
  • And yet surveys show that in many cases IT is still perceived by users and management as a simple service provider, doing the bidding of the departments, consuming profits and acting as a bottleneck in important areas. Many IT organizations suffer from a “toilet paper business” image:  a lot of what they do is taken for granted and is only noticed if …, extraordinary commitment is hardly recognized, even exceeding IT targets barely raises an eyebrow in many cases.
  • Successful crisis management and rapid responses to immediately essential changes have helped CIOs to gain recognition for the efficiency of IT. Their IT organizations have come out of the crisis with a new self-confidence. The challenge is to complete the transition successfully from short-term hero to accepted consulting partner.

CIOs now have the chance to exploit this impetus from short-term successes and to position IT as the powerful driver of the company that it usually is, as befits its significance to the company.

The core: IT as a strategic competitive factor

Companies that use their IT as a competitive factor and invest in the capacity of that IT will gain clear advantages in the long term. Crucial for successful activity on the market – as the Covid-19 crisis has shown – is the speed of response to changing requirements, market and framework conditions.

A visible sign of this, for example, is the type of definition processes and decision-making mechanisms:

  • nuances of different product characteristics or processes often have impacts on the complexity and speed of implementation by IT that involve quantum leaps.
  • The positioning and use of IT as a congenial sparring partner and transparent discussion and decision-making among partners of equal status make it essential to find the optimal balance between product and market criteria and the company’s internal interests.
  • IT should not represent topic areas (like a supplicant in old structures), but the company as a whole must decide on the content to be implemented (competition between topic areas), the resulting size of the IT resources and their most effective use – including the necessary degrees of freedom for IT to complete its work (strategic system roadmaps, EOL topics, development of knowledge, etc.).
  • The portfolio of – continuously reviewed – topics to be implemented as the result of a transparent, holistic assessment of the interests of all organizational units constitutes the roadmap for action by IT, based on agreed priorities.

ResultONE is the ideal partner to advise and support companies on their way to using their IT as a strategic competitive factor. Many CIOs and their IT organizations have already been able to benefit from the experience of ResultONE and to use its expertise for the overall development of their IT.

The Act2Perform©procedural model used by ResultONE supports companies on this path.

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