Social-MediaInformationWeek just published an excellent article titled “Goodbye IT, Hello Digital Business.” The article presents a compelling case for “Digital Business” as a lens into what the more information and IT-savvy companies are doing. It presents some good case studies from Digital Business leaders in the retail industry. It also presents some interesting statistics on emerging platforms for building customer ties, on the main opportunities for today’s CIOs and how IT teams are interacting directly with customers.

Are IT Organizations Asleep at the Digital Switch?

I found the statistics InformationWeek presented as both believable based on my consulting experience, and disturbing! The numbers reinforce the facts that:

  • The majority of IT organizational focus and energy continues to be consumed by legacy solutions, keeping the metaphorical “lights on and trains running on time.”
  • The IT organization typically does not play a major role in business innovation.
  • The IT organization is slow to enter the world of mobile computing.
  • Many IT staff don’t have the customer-facing skills and business knowledge to play in the emerging Digital Business space.

The statistics indicate a move in the right direction – no surprise there.  But the shift is slow – rewarding the early movers with the advantage of a differentiated experience for their customers and for their employees – especially for those IT staff that are involved in these frontier applications. The early movers, through business experimentation and studying success stories are building their digital capabilities.

Accelerating the Shift

Exploiting Digital Business is not just about innovation, agile channels, mobile computing and social media – it has profound implications for the IT organization and its context – the IT Operating Model. I’ve posted before about how IT Operating Models must change for what I called Enterprise 2.0 – aka, Digital Business.  (See here and here.)

Some companies are accelerating the shift through IT Transformation programs – reorganizing, rethinking IT processes and value streams, re-skilling the IT organization and, in some cases, radical outsourcing initiatives. Other are using ‘skunkworks’ approaches to learn and build credibility through early business experiments. Some have the most progressive and promising Digital Business initiatives happening in the shadows – outside the purview of their IT organizations. I find that to be a dreadful indictment of the IT leadership! If that is not a wake-up call for a new CIO, I don’t know what is!

Digital Business is Literally Business-IT Convergence

I’ve posted before on the concept of Business-IT Convergence. In many respects, Digital Business is all about the convergence of IT with the business – business products and services become digital, and IT capabilities – historically located in an IT organization – converge with business capabilities. Some IT professionals and leaders will see this as very threatening. Others will see it as the solution to many perennial problems associated with the ‘us’ versus ‘them’ of the business-IT relationship.

What do you think? How is Digital Business impacting your work life?

Image source courtesy of Devicix

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