Enabling IT for the digital consumer shift

laptop collaborationLast week at a Boston-based CIO Summit, I spoke about the challenges facing traditional IT roles in a shifting enterprise technology landscape.

Consumerization of IT is a foregone conclusion: employees are bringing not only their personal devices (BYOD-sanctioned or otherwise) but more significantly their habits and expectations born of living in a full-on digital world. The proliferation of well-designed, productivity-enhancing, cloud-based software means employees won’t wait. Nimble organizations will rely only on the flavors of enterprise software that, as VC Bijan Sabet said, don’t require sales or installation, rock on mobile, and enable strong network effects. The good news: many C-suite leaders are on board. The challenge is that many of the development processes and practices were created for a more clear-cut, waterfall world. How do we help development teams be successful given their existing legacy system realities, while adding on a very different mandate of creating digital experiences for ever more demanding business employees?

One way is rethinking training. GE was the first corporation to partner with General Assembly, which offers a range of technical, business, and design courses led by experienced practitioners, not corporate trainers. From CodeAcademy to Skillshare, there are myriad learning options at varying pricepoints for enterprise to beta. Another way to support this shift is to put business employees and developers on co-funded projects, so that potentially competing concerns like mobility and security are shared. As a colleague likes to remark, “nothing drives project collaboration like an exchange of hostages.”

As media report ever-growing CMO technology budgets, closer collaboration between business and IT is a requirement for advancing enterprise digital initiatives. Figuring it all out can’t be achieved solely through a strategy deck — the best way to chart the course is to get started on a near-term project, measure, and repeat.

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