Navigating the politics of a digital business transformation project

Posted by Mike Vizard on Aug 9, 2016 10:36:40 AM

digital_business_transformation.jpgWhen it comes to digital business transformation, there’s plenty of hype these days about how line of business units and “citizen developers” are leading the charge. After all, most of the applications being developed directly impact a business process these types of units typically manage.

But a new survey of 301 employees working at U.S. businesses conducted by Market Cube on behalf of QuickBase finds that the internal IT organization is still firmly in charge of these projects. In fact, the survey finds that 67 percent of the respondents say the internal IT organization is in charge of building applications that will be used in a digital business transformation. Another 48 percent cited third-party consultants. A third (33 percent) said these projects were being led by non-technical staff working closely with IT. Only 23 percent said they were being led by non-technical staff working on their own.

While there’s no doubt that “citizen developers” are more involved in building applications these days, the degree to which that is occurring is debatable. Based on the results of the survey, IT services providers would be well advised to maintain working relationships with internal IT organizations. A line of business (LOB) unit may be funding a digital transformation project, but when it comes to choosing the tools and, by extension, the team that will build that application, the internal IT organization still holds a lot of sway.

Mixed opinions on digital transformation

Naturally, not everyone inside these organizations is on the same page concerning how far digital transformation projects have progressed. A full 70 percent of C-level executives said their organization was ahead of the curve on these projects, but only 30 percent of the managers below that level shared that opinion.

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The good news is that 80 percent of respondents report that these projects are now well underway, and 68 percent further said these projects are a top priority for the organization. A full 97 percent of the C-Level executives concurred with that assessment.

Despite all this enthusiasm, the survey also finds that lack of budget, resistance from managers, and lack of IT staff are the top three barriers to getting a digital business transformation project launched in the first place. In that regard, most challenges relating to new IT projects remain the same regardless of the actual technologies being employed to drive that digital business project.

Internal power struggles

Of course, savvy IT service providers have been navigating the divide between end users and internal IT organizations for years. It may be tempting at times to end run the internal IT organization, but if an IT service provider doesn’t give the internal IT organization its proper due more often than not it will cause problems later. Whether it’s declining to support the application or starving it of resources, the internal IT organization has many ways to make its displeasure with a particular project felt.

Sometimes, going around the internal IT organization can’t be avoided, but the sooner an IT service provider repairs that rift, the better off all the stakeholders involved in that project will ultimately be. Instead of having an internal IT organization looking for some way to eliminate a project that they view as a diversion of internal resources, a positive outcome is much more likely when there’s plenty of credit to go around.

In fact, that old adage about success having a thousand fathers while failure is an orphan has probably never been more true than in the age of digital business.

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Photo Credit: Scott Meis via Flickr.com. Used under CC 2.0 License.

Topics: IT Services Trends

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