IT Needs to Spend More Time Innovating

For a long time information technology (IT) has been considered the backbone of many organizations, providing back-end support and services that are necessary, but not in direct support of the customer experience.


Over the years, IT has evolved a strong set of disciplines focused on running the factory, developed an extensive collection of tools, methodologies and services, all of which have had little or no impact on the true customer experience. This world has quickly changed. All you need to do is go into an Apple store and watch the customers, or see what is being used while sitting on a train or in an airport, or talk to a teenager about what they like on the web in terms of useful technology. You will quickly realize that IT in the enterprise had better get it’s act together and become part of the innovation drive or they will become obsolete very soon!


A way to get a gauge on whether or not you are part of the innovation stream is to take an objective look at your current IT portfolio. How much of the portfolio is focused on driving efficiency and improving cost models versus working with the business customer on understanding how IT can be used to improve the interactions with the ultimate end customer?


We’ve worked with clients on significant strategies to drive internal IT and business transformation, streamlining organizations and onboarding new internal capability, only to find that the end
customer is still using paper forms and tedious manual processes to engage. My bet is that unless IT steps up and truly becomes part of the R&D business lifecycle, the business will move ahead without IT.


You may feel that you just can’t implement or innovate fast enough to meet the challenges of your business
model. Your internal team may be challenged with a lack of expertise, not enough funding, or in some cases, no clue as to what the leading technologies or innovate approaches are in the marketplace. One way to tackle this challenge and get in front of it, is to seriously engage with your IT partners at all levels.


Envision an RFI specifically focused on innovation using your current set of business and vendor partners. Or, look at what it would take to make each vendor contractually obligated to participate with you in a forum on a bi-annual or annual basis that is focused on innovation. Aside from engaging the vendors participate, why not sweeten the pot, and provide the incentives for everyone to participate. Think of what could happen if you were now in the “drivers seat” to define and develop new and innovative capabilities and then had the leverage to offer this to the broader marketplace!


To get focused on how you and your team can spend your time and focus on innovation, ask yourself a
few key questions:
  • What does the customer need from me? (Consider the “end” customer, not just your business partner.)
  • Does the current IT process model foster innovation?
  • What could be done to the IT strategy and portfolio to shift some of the focus to innovation?
  • Am I engaging the right thought leadership to realize innovation (both internal and external)?
  • What are the primary ways my company is going to innovate this year (can I name 4-5 key actions)?


The answers to these questions could help you and your team recognize what your current focus is around
innovation and, if necessary, reset the focus on innovation for the future!