Is Information Technology Really Transforming Organizations?

Is Information Technology Really Transforming Organizations?
Is Information Technology Really Transforming Organizations?

Technology is sometimes forced into the organization by chief executives and leaders who are directly influenced by vendors. If not all, many CIOs and IT heads succumb to these pressures and regret it later.

This is an exclusive article series conducted by the Editor Team of CIO News with Clynton Almeida, providing CIO and IT advisory services at the board and management levels. In his previous roles, he was CIO at Redington (India) Ltd. And had been with the company for 20 Years.

Most organizations, from large enterprises to medium- to small businesses, in their pursuit of staying relevant embark on transformational journeys, investing heavily in IT. Be it infrastructure, security, ERP, homegrown SW, cloud enablement, digitalization, mobility, analytics, and now the not-so-new buzz words are robotics, AI, and ML.

But the big question is: Are organizations really experiencing this “transformation”?

While this elephant in the room is not much spoken about in corporate circles, at round tables or conferences, it is obfuscated behind a facade of technology, hype marketing, jargon, and promotions. But when one delves deeper, the reality is not what it seems in many organizations. Now don’t get me wrong. I am not in any way denigrating or disparaging the benefits of technology, which, in its absolute sense, is transformational. The question is, why do many organizations not experience this much talk about transformation, experience limited outcomes on their transformational journey, or, in some cases, regress into an even worse situation?

In candid discussions on the sidelines of conferences or various private one-on-one interactions with chief executives and organization heads, the feeling expressed is that they have not seen the extent of business transformation that was expected.

The answer to this is not simple, and there are a host of reasons. I will cherry-pick a few.

Hype Marketing. Quite often, leaders get carried away with the hype built around a product, technology, or service and want to immediately jump onto the bandwagon without fully understanding whether it will really benefit the organization. Investing in technology many times is done without a clear, well-studied, well-documented business case, resulting in acquiring technology with a superficial understanding. Management needs to translate the business strategy and key future competitive advantages into factors for the selection and implementation of technology.

Technology is sometimes forced into the organization by chief executives and leaders who are directly influenced by vendors. If not all, many CIOs and IT heads succumb to these pressures and regret it later. CIOs must have the gumption to appraise and clearly explain to the CEO, MD, or leadership team why they should not venture into a specific area or need to tread with caution.

Not getting the ROI and TCO right. When a technology product is purchased without proper due diligence, it comes as a surprise that many of the features shown and promised during the demos and presentations by the product marketing team are add-ons with additional investments. This creates some budget anxiety within the system, and then compromises take place, leading to the watering down of a solution and not achieving optimal levels of transformation.

Not Partnering Right

Be wary of your transformational models when partnering with a vendor. Way back in the mid-2000s, I know of an organization that got into a joint venture with an e-commerce product company when cloud computing was not even thought of. It was an exciting initiative, and

before it’s time. The model was that for every sale transaction on the e-commerce platform, the eCommerce SW Company would get a percentage of the profits. Eventually, the project did not take off and led to relationship issues between both parties. One of the lessons learned is to never share your hard-earned profits based on your core competencies with a technology provider who has no play in the game except providing a platform or SW.

Technology Overload. Going overboard on technology investments is another factor where not much value is extracted from the technology asset. I know quite a few organizations where IT assets, be they software or hardware, have been purchased, installed, and never used or sparingly used while their depreciation hits the P&L every quarter.

Technology is a two-edged sword if it is not adopted in the right way. It can make or break an organization, or even worse, push an organization into mediocrity and complacency just because the technology is available and pushed down the throats of employees. While performing studies across many organizations, I have come across situations where department heads and employees have their own parallel shadow systems in Excel or small, home-grown SW outside the technology platform.

Shoddy implementation of technology: This accounts for most technological transformational failures and the age-old malady of many projects. When the gap between reality at the ground level and the technology being implemented is large, be it operating procedures, business rules, organizational policies, etc., this foreshadows a grim situation with the project failing or not being able to fully harness the capabilities of the technology.

Aligning with the wrong technology partner is another key reason. I have seen lackadaisical consultants having intensive discussions with users over weeks and months, performing requirement gathering exercises, and then coming up with very sketchy or no documentation at all. This leads to a glaring gap between the organization’s objectives and the solution being provided.

One of the key factors when deploying technology is attention to detail and considering every aspect of the business. I would say this is one of the most important points in achieving transformational goals. There is no skin in the game. Most often, employees are kept away from such initiatives, and there is no mindshare from the very people who would be using the technology. This leads to disinterest and the lacklustre involvement of internal and external stakeholders.

Get the organization involved. Without a strategic connection, the technology initiative does what the technicians believe it should do and not what is necessarily best for the company.

What are the top priorities? Which measures of operating performance are expected to improve, and at what rate? Etc.

Putting the Chief Executive in charge defines a different level of involvement in the technology implementation process. Senior executives mistakenly view the endeavor as an information-technology project and not a business project.

Some broad guidelines and considerations

Reams can be written on how to achieve quantum jump transformation using technology. However

The one most important maxim to harness the power of technology and achieve transformational outcomes is the fusion of business and technology.

Organizations must strive to achieve a fusion of the organization’s business model and operations with the technology being adopted and have an openness to evolve to harness the benefits of the technology being adopted. Organizations should adapt to accommodate technology-driven business advantages, and technology must have the capability to adapt to the organization’s business model, its intricacies, quirks, and unique way of doing business. This fusion will enable organizations to achieve that quantum jump from good to great at every level, every process point, every operation, and every relationship within and even outside the organization.

As someone once said, “Change is inevitable, but transformation is a choice.

About Clynton Almeida:

Clynton Almeida has over 25 years of industry experience in organizations as a CIO across various industry domains. He has been the recipient of the Best CIO Award and the 100 Most Innovative CIOs Award.

He is currently engaged in CIO and IT advisory services at the board and management levels.

Also readAs a technology leader, I cultivated the knack of understanding one step above the others so that I can handle them, says Dr. Chandran Raghuraman, CTO at Bahwan Cybertek

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