For a while now I’ve been fairly vocal about re-branding IT teams as Digital Enablement teams. The rise of digital has seen many IT teams left behind, to the extent that ‘digital’ and ‘IT’ are often seen as two distinct disciplines.
The common scenario is:
When an organisation’s technology is working well they are seen as being digitally innovative, but when technology is flailing then there must be some IT issue (“Have you tried turning it off and on again?“)
I have even heard a senior digital leader once say that “our digital strategy has nothing to do with (computer) technology”. Sorry, but that’s just plain wrong.
Without technology, there wouldn’t be anything ‘digital’ to speak of. It is the adoption and use of new and existing technologies that is defining businesses as digital – transforming how they operate, communicate and innovate. If you keep technology considerations out of your digital strategising until after it’s done, you will end up with a digital solution that:
- may be quite novel, creative and meet some targets;
- may give everyone that warm feeling of being innovative with technology;
- will most likely create another data silo for someone else to sort out;
- will most likely create another technology system that is not scalable, adaptable or repurposeable;
- will definitely take more time to integrate with other systems (including other digital solutions);
- will definitely be more expensive than it should have been.
So whilst branding IT teams as Digital Enablement teams is a call-to-action for them to be more digital, the term does not mean to limit IT’s role to just ‘enablement’. I wrote in an earlier article of the many ways that IT teams can be more proactive in digital strategy and digital project discussions. The TLDNR version of this is:
Get your IT team involved early and often in any digital ideation process for the following reasons: data, analytics, adaptability, re-usability, reliability, security and cost.
Don’t ask them to just ‘enable’ your digital product.
However, this doesn’t mean that your IT team should be driving your digital strategy. The application and innovative use of technology is what your digital strategy encompasses but the drivers of the strategy should be grounded in your audience and customer needs. i.e. what they want, how they want to be communicated with and what level (and type) of engagement they require. Your IT team should be an integral partner in all digital initiatives, with their involvement changing on a project-by-project basis.
All of this, of course, depends on your IT team and its leadership. More specifically: how digital is your digital enablement team?