In today’s business climate, transformation and innovation rely on agility to unleash value. Organizations are under pressure to decrease time from ideation to implementation, to react to new information and insights in real time, and to unlock business value by discovering and delivering on both growth and performance improvement opportunities.
In the recent study, Digitising IT, SAP worked with the Economist Intelligence Unit, with input from Digital Bridge Partners, to survey more than 800 C-level business and IT leaders at major international organizations across Europe, North America, Latin America, and Asia-Pacific. The goal was to understand how enterprise-wide and IT-department contexts, attitudes, and intentions drive and/or hinder the transformation of digitally driven companies.
The study found that fewer than one in five (18%) IT executives have adopted new platforms or applications to support digital technology, or embraced agile software development (17%) or DevOps (15%).
According to study respondent Sahal Laher, CIO at U.S.-based clothing retailer Brooks Brothers, those who haven’t adopted these new working practices are missing some important opportunities to achieve the greater speed and agility that executives elsewhere in the business increasingly expect.
He believes in a style of IT management that Gartner analysts call “bimodal IT”—the practice of managing two separate but coherent modes of IT delivery: one focused on stability (keeping legacy systems moving forward) and the other on agility (developing and releasing new applications and services).
“I think bimodal IT really is the way forward for all organisations that want to stay on top of their game and succeed in this era of high and constantly evolving customer expectations,” Mr Laher says.
“If, as a CIO, you continue to operate in the way that you always have, which is spending the majority of resources on ‘keeping the lights on’ and delivering projects over long, drawn-out timelines, with one big release every year or even every six months, your organisation is going to fall behind.”
It is also important not to constrain inputs to internal resources. Suppliers, partners, and customers should be included as collaborators in ideation, testing, and delivery to keep decision-making from being too myopic. To that same end, bringing in third-party design, development and project leadership resources can insert much-needed new cultural DNA and can help support teams with design thinking, business model canvas, and agile development.
The collaborative and agile approach to innovation should evolve in stages. Each company will have its own unique maturity model. Over time, if properly nurtured and driven by the CIO, the collaborative and agile approach will propagate more broadly across the organization and expand to include additional LOBs and participants in the business network.