A digital transformation changes an organisation, including the role of its IT department – both broadening and deepening the competencies required while altering its internal structures as well. This is quite a challenging yet necessary shift that every company must undergo in order to stay competitive in an increasingly digitised world.
These days, IT departments are more important than ever, which also means that they have to rethink the way they work – at least in 6 particular ways that I want to discuss below.
How the digital transformation has been transforming IT departments?
1. Fewer IT specialists with basic skills are needed
Having a basic knowledge of IT is nothing unusual nowadays, especially among Millennials, not to mention Generation Z. As our lives become increasingly digitised, IT-related skills are also gaining importance and becoming more essential, which, of course, also influences the workforce. This means that most systems with low to medium complexity are usually intuitive enough to be handled without any extensive technological training. However, specialists who have more experience in dealing with various software solutions are often much more capable of configuring and running them on their own, with minimal support.
2. Growing desire for highly skilled experts
As training in technology and basic IT skills becomes more commonplace – and users grow in digital competence – knowledge of very specific IT skills also becomes more desirable. For example, there’s a high demand for artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics, and cloud computing experts. Companies are lacking specialists who are able to design, solve complex problems, foster and create innovative solutions using the latest technological achievements – and who can also quickly update their knowledge on a regular basis. And expertise in these areas are crucial in order to maintain a competitive edge.
This is why even though IT departments are getting smaller, they are also becoming much more specialised, with areas of expertise that remain a mystery for the vast majority of the population.
3. Widening range of responsibilities
IT specialists also have to get used to being involved in both regular IT tasks, as well as more business-oriented responsibilities. This includes identifying innovations, turning them into marketable solutions, taking care of security, consulting and advising other specialists, and cooperating more closely with other departments, such as R&D, sales and marketing.
IT departments are now in the front lines of combat when it comes to discovering new technologies and proposing new software solutions that are supposed to help gain new customers, increase the effectiveness of their work, or open up new streams of revenue. They no longer carry out imposed tasks only.
4. A big shift in the work environment
There has been quite a significant shift in the entire IT environment towards standardisation, cloud solutions, big data analytics, process automation, learning new skills, attracting top talent, working remotely, and managing people effectively, etc.
These trends have forced IT departments across the board to change the way they work – or risk having their companies go out of business.
We can also observe a constant decline in pricing for many hardware and software solutions, making them more available to everyone, and not just the biggest players in the industry, so that organisations no longer have any excuse to not invest in them. In effect, today’s IT departments often consist of many distributed teams (either working on-the-premises or remotely, or in a mixed configuration), and they put a lot of emphasis on automating tasks, increasing and updating their knowledge, making data-based decisions, and achieving high levels of work efficiency.
5. Readiness to adapt
Technologies and external environments are changing so rapidly, that IT departments must be ready to reorganise very quickly, learn new skills, hire additional talent, and adapt to market needs whenever needed. They have to become truly agile – not just in their marketing claims, but also in practice.
Companies cannot afford to have their technology departments fall behind and fail to adjust to disruptive circumstances, such as the ones caused by the COVID-19 pandemic or that may result from changes made to any laws and regulations. Nowadays, if you don’t adapt, you don’t survive.
That’s why IT departments have to embrace new and effective operating models as well as management concepts in order to be able to adapt as flawlessly as possible.
6. General shift of focus
OK. So, the internal organisation of IT departments is changing, as is their modus operandi. But… that’s not all. They also need to focus more on the intersection of technology and business. Because while being innovative is great, innovation also needs to add business value.
IT experts have to shift their focus towards one or a few of the following goals: higher consumer satisfaction, increased working efficiency, faster time-to-market, greater levels of security, and better business stability and continuity. They also need to take a product-centric approach and start taking responsibility for the product created throughout its entire lifecycle.
Some companies have even adopted a so-called BizDevOps model, which recommends creating an interdisciplinary team that closes the gap between business and IT and acts as one highly integrated entity.
TL;DR: wrap up for busy readers
The revolution that the digital transformation is causing in IT departments around the world can also be summed up in a few main bullet points:
- The role of the IT department is becoming more strategic than ever.
- Departments are shrinking and becoming more specialised.
- Speed and agility are crucial in terms of maintaining business stability and continuity.
- End-to-end responsibility for the products and services created is being embraced.
- Business and technology need to come together, and go hand-in-hand.
So, to anyone who is thinking about starting a career in IT: you should know that your role is no longer just about coding – not any more. The demands of the market and the digitised world are pretty clear: more interdisciplinary collaboration, more business and technology convergence, and a more narrow but much deeper field of knowledge are required – all of these factors come together to create a new reality for any IT department, with no exceptions.