modernising IT
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Modernising Technology does not happen by accident. It needs to be planned, well executed and ultimately driven by the CIO through the Technology team.  Bringing in new “digital” capability will largely be in vain without a modern Technology set up and the foundational capabilities in place.  Moving to a modern Technology set up is definitely a journey and one that cannot be rushed. It must have a clear view of what the destination looks like because if you don’t know what the end game looks like how do you know you are on the right path or even successful?  That said, organisational transformation doesn’t truly finish – a particular iteration may do so, but organisations will always be going through degrees of change so that it remains relevant, or so it can lead industry disruption.

By now you would have seen numerous articles and heard about companies “going digital” – but are they really?  Can they truly be on the digital transformation journey if they do not have good foundations in place, supported by a modern Technology function?  Rather than look to jump straight to implementing one of the modern technologies of the moment, “Digital Transformation” which is up there with devops, AI, cloud, data analytics, and bots.   I argue that you need to also ensure that technology foundations are in place as you start a digital transformational journey which may eventually include elements of those modern technologies.

It’s all about the Journey

But can you really embark on your organisational digital transformation without modernising your technology through a series of journeys and foundational building blocks?  These journeys encompass, at a high level, people, process and technology, for example Agile, devops, hybrid cloud, end user support, guiding principles and talent attraction/retention (with team and organisational culture being a key component).  There needs to be a strategy in place that can flex with the business and economic environment, especially in this world we now live, with pandemics, wars and impacts on the global supply chain.

Modernising IT can't occur without strong IT foundations in place Share on X

Leave no one behind on your journey

Changing the way your teams work can, for some, can be a major upheaval and lead to a rejection of or resentment about bringing in new ways of working.  The organisation must set a clear vision as to why there is a need for change and how that will be achieved.  There must a clear strategy and vision articulated to all teams.  Ideally, this should be accompanied by regular awareness and education sessions where the benefits of adopting new methodologies and mindsets is clearly laid out and so that staff understand the answer to the fundamental question- what problem am I solving”?

You will also need to bring in new talent who can share their knowledge and act as coaches to all levels of the organisation so that no one is left behind.  It is also crucial that you have executive/board level buy in, support and funds available for any change that has significant impact on the Technology teams.  Searching out the right talent is also crucial in creating a modern Technology team. The right talent is multi skilled, comfortable with rapid change and has a willingness to collaborate with other teams (both in technology and the business) towards achieving a shared vision and goal.

Innovation culture is key to modernising technology

For your digital transformation journey to really take off, innovation is a key element in bringing about change. To enable your team to innovate there must be a supportive culture in place, where staff have the time and freedom to innovate, and where they’re trusted and given authority to create and implement innovative solutions that support the organisation’s guiding principles, that allow for easy decision making.  By putting in some constraints in the form of guiding principles you are empowering teams to be creative around the edges.

To encourage innovation, organisational leaders need to support innovation by removing inhibitors such as time spent dealing with day to day incidents or by automating operational tasks.  Teams should have their ideas heard by way of individuals/teams pitching ideas every month to senior leaders for possible implementation.  If an idea is selected, the particular individual or team they could have a period of time to turn that idea into a viable product or service.

You can’t go faster if your Technology foundations are weak

Technology teams can’t deliver the basics (e.g. automation, delivery, service levels or advice in general) then they risk losing the trust of the organisation and may be overlooked for their advice to the executive team and key customers.  If Technology teams cannot consistently and quickly deliver to the needs of the organisation then there will be the headache of shadow IT within the company – again, a possible sign that Technology is not being agile, cost effective or responsive enough to meet the needs of the organisation.  Above all, get the basics right so Technology teams can build on flexible technology decisions and solutions that support the organisation and its strategies.  If necessary, a partnership model may be appropriate where the Technology teams can look for suitable partners to assist in areas that it does not consider as core to the services it offers to the organisation.

Most of us have skeletons in the closet

Modern Technology teams will only work well if the focus is not solely on the digital world, especially not at the expense of legacy technology or ways of working. Transforming legacy systems is a challenge but not impossible.  To do it requires an IT team with a digital mindset (one that is happy with change) that has the energy and mindset to adapt legacy technology to the current and future needs of the organisation.  Technology teams that only focus on supporting legacy systems may result in limited career progression and diminished future technology options.  The innovation side of modernising Technology should also look at ways to transform legacy systems whilst also using a collaboration of teams (both new and existing talent) to reimagine these legacy systems for the digital age such as through the use of APIs integrations or moving to SaaS based solutions.

Transforming legacy systems is a challenge but not impossible #CIO #ModernisingTechnology #digitaltransformation Share on X

Changing mindsets and ways of working

Modern Technology teams need to collaborate well with other teams (using tools such as Slack or Teams) and have the ability to adopt new ways of working, such as Agile and “devops”.   For example, IT Teams should be able to take elements from Agile methodologies and utilise that thinking when it comes to continual service improvement (CSI) where you can use rapid delivery/planning and iterative improvements to bring about quick wins for your organisation.  This way of approaching CSI will enable an easier adoption of Agile Service Management. Agile Service Management can be defined as the application of agile principles/methodologies/thinking to ITSM (and vice versa).  Most organisations will already have an approach to improving quality, and the added structure of scrum can also be valuable in bringing a level of structure to this CSI (Continual Service Improvement) approach.

A mindset shift is required for Technology teams as it is no longer relevant to inform the organisation that a server or network link is down.  CIOs need to articulate the impact from the customer’s perspective as well as how it will impact your colleagues, so they can determine the type of the communication they need to get out to their customers/colleagues and how/when to keep them updated.

The move to utilising more Agile practices will also beneficial to the organisation as you can get new products and services to market quicker use the Minimal Viable Product (MVP) concept so that a new product or service can be introduced to the market before your competitors.  The idea being that product teams will continually iterate to get new features to market as part of their product roadmap.

Actually solving a customer problem

[Insert in here who you define as your customers], in my case I am talking about internal users, providing them a positive onboarding experience as well as continued relevant support and solutions to meet their customer’s needs.  Technology teams should no longer be content with providing services to their own colleagues but should be supporting them in delivering the desired outcomes to their customers.  This may mean being that trusted adviser to your colleagues as well as being flexible enough to support new solutions as required by the organisation.

Internal user expectation has grown in terms of what they require from technology at work, they can consume solutions out of work life, such as Spotify or Netflix and are also becoming more tech savvy in terms of the computers they use.  So, providing your colleague with the right tools to do their jobs is critical otherwise shadow IT will start to creep in.

Let’s briefly talk about technology

So, whether you look at Trello or Jira to track tasks and time or Cherwell, Freshservice, RemedyForce or even ServiceNow for ITSM it is important that you choose the right technology solution that best suits your organisation (deploy it out of the box as much as you can) and the way they want to work to support an Agile Service Management environment.  The salient point here being to pick a solution and make sure all teams them, as well as ensuring easy integration between your chosen tool sets.

So, you’ve got the tooling nailed, what platforms are you going to build your products or solutions on? On premises, Amazon Web Services, Azure or even Google Cloud? with a hybrid approach being the new norm for most organisations with any legacy.  Then you have to decide on automation and orchestration tooling (e.g. Puppet, Chef, Salt, Bamboo, Jenkins) to assist scrum teams in delivering quality software quickly, but that’s where a great Architect  or awesome CIO working with the teams can really add value by actually designing a solution based on requirements.

Just make sure you use the same core applications across all teams therefore collaborating between teams is a lot easier, such as Office 365 or G-Suite.  Technology decisions must be made based on what problem is it solving rather than a technology solution looking for a problem.  When a new core application is required then it is essential that stakeholders are fully involved throughout the process along with education and information sessions for all staff that are required to use it.  Technology Teams need to be flexible enough to support new applications, whether they are on premise or SaaS based.

Modernising Technology must involve strengthening cybersecurity measures. This ensures that the organisation’s digital assets are protected against evolving cyber threats. A robust cybersecurity strategy should be an integral part of the modernisation process​, which must also include user awareness cybersecurity training.  With the rise of AI and data initiatives, cybersecurity becomes even more critical where cybersecurity measures must be put in place to protect sensitive data and AI algorithms from cyber threats. A comprehensive cybersecurity strategy ensures the integrity and confidentiality of data (along with a data strategy, policy and governance), which is vital for the success of any AI implementation.

Technology Teams must remodel themselves

The way we live, consume, work and interact with one another is fundamentally changing in a Covid-19 world with the need, through data driven decisions to better understand and support our customer’s and internal team’s way of working.   Not only do companies have to revamp their operating models, technology stack and adapt to a changing market environment; Technology Teams must also upgrade themselves and come up with new strategies, ways of working, tactics and tools that help them build a purposeful digitally enabled organisation. The need for an organisational transformation is not optional any more — but building upon solid foundations to support your organisation’s digital transformation journey is a critical enabler for any organisational transformation to succeed or not.

The way we live, consume, work and interact with one another is fundamentally changing in a digital world #CIO #ModernisingTechnology #digitaltransformation Share on X

How have you approached modernising Technology within your organisation? Please leave a comment below.

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