The future is now, but is IT ready?

Every year there is a period of reflection and prediction in IT, and every year we continue to focus on the trends and forecasts of others. But this creates a lull.

Everything stays as it was, as long as we purchase new technologies and apply the right marketing strategies, right? I would suggest something different this year – let go of everything we think we know and direct our vision of IT in a new way: future-proof.

Society is constantly evolving. Innovative start-ups, equipped with rapidly improving technology are disrupting entire industries and Tilt Business Models are increasingly common. It is constantly reiterated that we must sit closer to our customers or introduce new forms of communications, but priorities would change like the seasons if we digested every suggestion.

But what if the IT department doesn’t have time for necessary innovation? What if IT is constantly busy with 'keeping the lights on' and is paralysed by its own legacy of outdated systems and slow, manual processes? This needs to change, and it has to happen instantly.

Forget the past

IT requires a fundamentally different approach and way of thinking. Currently, IT is stalling many organisations. Companies seek to innovate, but do not provide the IT department with the budget or time to allow them to experiment, which results in a gap between IT and the rate a business is growing. Organisations begin to lose competitiveness as consumer’s tire of old technology whilst staff introduce their own solutions. To avoid this, our approach to IT must be shaken up.

Adopt a start-up ideology

Start-ups are by nature innovators and they are free from dated and inflexible IT which haunts big enterprises. With this in mind, how would you organise your IT department if you could start over? The first step is simple: automate all common processes. Precious time is wasted by IT professionals performing tasks such as on-and off- boarding. The next step would be buying services in a smarter way, such as investing in cloud based services. This would liberate your IT management in a cost-effective way and free time and budget for innovation.

As well as focusing on systems and platforms, a company must foster innovation from its IT team. Successful startups often use the "fail fast, or fail at” principle: do not take big risks with extensive and long-term projects, but approach internal innovation from small, manageable projects. In other words, do not fear experimentation or failure, as it is this that often leads to success. Therefore develop an experimental culture - if an idea doesn’t work, move on to the next quickly.

 The time to innovate is now

If you have automated your IT, outsourced your support services and experimented to spearhead creativity, you have laid a solid foundation for innovation. Through these initiatives, the organisation has become more productive, efficient and less reliant on IT support. The company is now equipped to face changing circumstances – just in time, I would argue, as the future is now.

To illustrate you need only look at companies such as Tesla, which can be described as an innovation platform rather than a car. They even recently introduced hands-free driving as an update – something a car manufacturer of old would dare not dream. But, it is this mentality which ensures that companies like Tesla will overtake competitors and conquer markets. The same principles can be applied to IT – it should be viewed as a platform for innovation.

The importance of vision

In order to offer true innovation in the style of Tesla and Uber, an organisation should develop a vision; one that is focused on enabling change and pushing a company forward in a transformative period. With a distinct vision, a company is prepared for the future.

Bob Janssen, Founder & CTO, RES Software

Image source: Shutterstock/solarseven