The premise is simple. With the digitalisation of businesses, more and more information is now instantaneously available on the consumption habits of consumers. Companies who are able to record this data and act upon it - responding quickly to their customers’ buying habits - will thrive in a world where purchases are now made in the time it takes to touch a screen with three thumb taps. Commentators call it the ‘Amazon-ification’ of business and foresee a future whereby companies’ business objectives and their internal IT functions will move closer together, to the point of merging. This, in turn, ensures they are acting with agility and speed in response to the buying habits of their customers.
The shift we are undergoing - from the physical to the digital - has led to companies embedding technology into the products they sell. Therefore, the importance of digital is moving from an IT functional world to one where digital practitioners are embedded into not only every part of the business, but also into every part of the products that the vast majority of companies take to market.
This includes companies that historically have been very physical, such as aircraft engines or oil refineries, or any number of sectors where physical products are becoming digital. They now provide much more information to consume and therefore, more technology is integrated into the products that companies sell.
A changing world requires the creation of new job roles to closely monitor the digital evolution, and this explains the emergence and importance of digital practitioners.
Speed and agility
Nowadays technology adoption occurs at a much faster rate, since most organisations now operate digitally. Technology-as-a-service models are transforming the way that technology and applications are employed in businesses.
In some cases, this actually means that the scope of what IT departments provide to the business is shifting, particularly where service models incorporate cloud adoption. Additionally, external vendors - instead of in-house staff - often provide support for technology-as-a-service-models, which further highlights that the business of IT needs to be coordinated smoothly in order to be effective.
Today’s businesses also require greater speed and agility.
Historically, businesses asked IT to deliver efficiency and stability. But now, we are moving towards more outcomes which rely upon speed and agility instead. In order to keep up, we are seeing organisations fundamentally change their operating models, individual skills, and processes.
Emerging technologies are also now coming to the fore. Brand new scenarios are showing what is possible, as well as affecting how to provide business benefits to customers in new and interesting ways.
Furthermore, the bar has been raised in the context of user experience. As noted earlier, we call this the ‘Apple- or Amazon-ification’ of the user experience, and organisations have to shoot for a similar standard of service.
The technologies that have come up over the last few years such as cloud computing, along with near-term horizon technologies - like quantum computing and 5G - are shifting IT from a world of technology scarcity to a world of technology abundance.
Today’s changing business model
Today’s fast-moving technology industry requires businesses to be agile, which in turn places pressure on IT departments to react instantly.
This means they must develop or adopt more efficient models in order to help IT to run more successfully. The lack of a cohesive management model creates uncertainty, preventing organisations from attaining their business objectives.
The pressure of the ever-evolving digital age has never been greater on our businesses. The key to smooth-running IT management models lies in the ability to utilise data in a way which helps organisations plan for investment in products that customers want to use. The insights that data can provide are crucial to the subsequent success or failure in today’s economy.
This underlines the need for a cohesive business model which adapts seamlessly to the needs of an effective IT operation. Grappling with the benefits and uses of emerging technologies will help businesses to achieve their future goals.
IT departments which have not prepared a coherent business model that aligns effectively with the business portfolio and strategy will be unprepared to invest in the most suitable technologies. As a consequence, businesses may miss out on golden opportunities to invest in the technologies that could bring them considerable advantages.
The digital practitioner
Companies now embed technology into every product they sell. As a result, digital practitioners are placed into every part of the business, and into every part of the products that the vast majority of companies take to market.
It is therefore important to understand that it is now unacceptable for business leaders within an organisation to simply write off technology and say that it is ‘for the IT people to take care of’.
Technology is now ingrained in everything that we do in our work lives. We all need to understand technology, as well as the new ways of working it brings. In addition, businesses need to realise that there are new opportunities that require moving quickly and reacting to customer wants and needs in new and exciting ways. It is these opportunities that add distinct value.
As more technology rolls into the products being sold, a new world which highlights the importance of the digital practitioner is created.
Therefore, it is not just IT staff that have to transform into digital practitioners. Business people across every single part of the organisation have to embrace the work that IT staff do and carefully ensure it is aligned to their company’s objectives.
Changing the culture of any organisation is hard work. However, with the right buy in, and appropriate allocation of the most suitable individuals into digital practitioner roles, companies who take the time to implement these changes will reap the profits.
Sriram Sabesan, member, The Open Group IT4IT Forum
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