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November 08, 2013
You cannot spell digital without IT
By: Mark McDonald

This statement is more than a word trick for IT to stake out its position in the digital world. It is a statement of fact that digital technologies deliver value best when they work with IT. But not just any type of IT, high performing IT according to Accenture’s recent High Performance IT Study of more than 200 companies with more than $2.4 trillion dollars of revenue.

Capitalizing on IT in digITal requires an IT organization that stands out from its peers. These are high performing IT organizations. These organizations are leaders in each of the three main building blocks of IT performance: Execution, Agility and Innovation.

Accenture’s report “High Performers in IT: defined by digital” explores the qualitative and quantitative differences between high performers and their peers. Rather than repeat the publically available study, this post reflects on the type of IT required for an effective digital partner based on the study and conversations with CIOs.

Digital success requires IT success. Conventional wisdom holds that IT is a stumbling block to digital success. Like all ‘conventional wisdom’ that is partially true. Poor performance in any business operation is a stumbling block to success. The connection between IT and Digital is more direct than other functions as digital business is only as good as the IT foundation it rests on.

High performers, according to the study, were significantly more involved in digital strategy than other companies participating in the survey. Their success managing the fundamentals of traditional IT creates the credibility and capability necessary to contribute to digital business success. Here are some of the factors characterizing the high performers and their connections with digital business.

  • High performing IT organizations focus on externally facing issues of revenue growth, customer service and the customer experience to a greater degree than other organizations in the survey.

  • High performing organizations are four times more likely to incorporate industry, economic and customer considerations in their IT strategies and plans.

  • They are actively transitioning legacy architectures. A third of high performers report that architectures components already operate in the cloud compared to less than 5% of companies. High performers expect that figure to double when they achieve their target architecture.

Digital success demands growth. Those demands redefine IT’s future emphasis, outcomes and investments. Those demands form the basis for IT transformation and the CIO’s digital IT agenda based on the factors mentioned above.

Without that focus, digital becomes the latest whipping post for IT and CIOs. Past arguments that “IT does not matter” or IT is a cost center pale in comparison to the impact of digital relegated IT to providing non-differentiated support services.

You cannot spell digital without IT. However, simply capitalizing the IT in the word digital emphasizes but does not embody a strategy for the CIO, IT organization or enterprise. Accenture’s report highlights the issues and differences that CIOs need to consider in setting their direction in the digital world.

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