CXO

How IT can enable digital transformation at your organization: 5 tips

VMware's Kevin Lees lead a breakout session at the 2017 VMworld conference where he explained how a change in mindset and culture within IT can drive digital transformation.

Digital transformation is big business. In fact, some 56% of CEOs surveyed by research firm Gartner said that digital transformation had improved their profits.

The breakdown of digital transformation is much more nuanced, however. A 2016 study commissioned by Dell Technologies found that 32% of business leaders were embracing the trend because they want to predict new opportunities. An additional 31% want to enable always-on, real-time operations, while another 31% want to demonstrate transparency and trust.

SEE: Digital transformation: A CXO's guide (free PDF)

The potential value is there, but actually enabling digital transformation can be difficult. At the 2017 VMworld conference in Las Vegas, VMware's Kevin Lees explained IT's role in digital transformation, and how they can overcome some common hurdles.

First off, Lees said, it's important to understand that digital transformation is forcing a tighter alignment between business and IT. As such, it is important that each party understand and adopt the goals of the other.

According to Lees, VMware customers were polled on their primary desired business outcomes for digital transformation. The top three outcomes were increased business agility and innovation, enhanced mobile experience for customers and employees, and the ability to better protect their brand and customer trust, Lees said.

It's often said that people, processes, and technology enable digital transformation, but the technology is the easy part, Lees said. After a firm has identified its strategic objectives, and built an architecture that supports those objectives, there is still more work to be done. Here are five tips Lees suggested for empowering IT to assist in your digital transformation effort.

1. Shift IT culture

Most of IT is still IT-centric and project-oriented in its culture, Lees said, and this needs to change. IT culture should shift to something that is focused on the customer outcome and is service-oriented. This will require more collaboration and information sharing, Lees said. For example, IT shouldn't be able to decide what end users want without talking to those users first.

2. Break down silos

Breaking down siloes can improve the communication flow and enable IT and the business to share ideas and collaborate on goals. Instead, business and IT should work to build cross-functional, multidisciplinary teams.

3. Change IT's mindset

Currently, many IT organizations have a reactive mindset, Lees said. Far too many companies have IT that is nearly entirely driven by incident tickets. However, success in digital transformation requires IT with a proactive operations mindset that is heading off problems before they come about.

4. Increase automation

Minimal automation just won't cut it for digital transformation, Lees said. IT needs to pursue maximum automation, but it must be intelligently deployed in a way that improves productivity and efficiency.

5. Review processes and governance

Processes and governance are basically a spectrum, but too many IT organizations exist on either end of the spectrum with heavyweight processes and governance, or none at all. To minimize problems in this area, IT needs lightweight processes and governance, and should adopt agile and lean methodologies.

Also see

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Image: iStockphoto/chombosan

About Conner Forrest

Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.

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