Leading through cooperation

By Derek Bose, Applications Country Leader, Oracle South Africa & SADC

By better aligning the goals and strategies of business and technology, CIOs and their decision-making counterparts in other lines of business can realise the full value of IT innovation.

Over the past year, some of the technology news dominating the headlines in South Africa relates to the rise in adoption of cloud, the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), and robotics. We are clearly entering an era of hyper innovation in South Africa, in which organisations will be enabled to pursue new business models and improve operational efficiencies.  

Innovative technologies have a major impact on business processes and outcomes. Still, IT decision makers and their counterparts in various lines of business (LoBs) have different views as to what they wish to achieve from technology investments. In a study conducted by global IT advisory firm IDC, IT respondents highlighted that they wished to improve operations, gain a competitive advantage and pursue new lines of business. Lines of business prioritised improving customer experience, gaining a competitive edge, and creating new business models.

While both IT decision makers and LoBs agree that they need to sustain a competitive position, they must also agree upon a strategy by which that can be achieved. The success or failure of an organisation's digital transformation (DX) initiatives will depend heavily on the way business and IT engage.

There are three different models that decision makers can consider, with the choice of model determined by the organisation's technology and talent resources, as well as internal processes and culture.  

Model #1: A special digital projects team

This type of model is ideal for organisations just starting their digital transformation journey. This entails creating a stand-alone team that will be tasked with collecting information from various departments and geographies. The team will need to facilitate communication and ensure representation from both business and IT. The aim of this team is to "jump start" innovation, and this might be accomplished by engaging in hackathons and ideation. IT and business will have to contribute equally in terms of expertise and commitment to drive digital literacy across the organisation.  

Model #2: An office of innovation/transformation

In this model, a central group will provide the governance associated with the DX goals of the organisation. Members will work with different departments to identify what functions can be transformed and identify use cases accordingly. In this model IT will engage with the business to ensure IT performance and provide support for program management and vendor/partner assessment.

Model #3: Embedded digital business

This model also requires establishing a task-specific group, which will be responsible for the overall digital strategy of the organisation. The group will act as an overseer of progress and performance. An embedded digital business model will give a greater sense of ownership to different departments. IT will play a critical role in terms of enabling the digital ecosystem and establishing integration and data strategies.

 Organisations can start by establishing a digital business unit and evolving into an embedded digital business. This will also require an overall cultural shift within the organisation, and IT will need to be more agile, customer-centric and collaborative.

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