Shock, horror, IT dept says NO to transformation

Published on the 26/07/2017 | Written by Jonathan Cotton

IT dept says NO to digital

Survey shows employee buy-in the biggest roadblock to digital success…

As all but the most complacent businesses look to move to embrace digital, there is good news and bad. First, the good: When it comes to digital transformation, luddites are the exception, in Australia at least, as nearly everyone reckons it is a good idea. And the bad? IT department employees, the very folk who could be expected to drive digital transformation, could be the biggest handbrake on making it happen.

According to a new DocuSign survey, ‘Digitise or die: Australia’s digital expectations’, both enterprises and small businesses understand the need to digitise to succeed, with 89 percent of those surveyed ranking it among their top priorities (50 percent say it is their top priority).

No surprises there, but every silver lining has a cloud. In this case it is the striking gulf between customer expectations and customer experience. According to the survey, 85 percent of consumers demand organisations offer digital methods of completing sales transactions and signing agreements, yet almost three-quarters (72 percent) say they have experienced problems in completing a transaction over the last 12 months because of issues linked to manual processes.

So, what’s with the disconnect?

In terms of digital transformation, while the sense of urgency is surely there (especially for larger organisations) it seems that getting buy-in from employees, most notoriously IT departments, represents a sometimes insurmountable obstacle for many businesses. Seventy-four percent of senior decision makers say they have had a digital project held back by another department within the business, with 46 percent laying the blame at the feet of the IT department specifically.

(And it’s worse for larger organisations: “Of businesses with over 1000 employees, 64 percent have had a project delayed by the IT department, compared to just 36 percent of those in SMBs,” the survey said.)

Is this just a case of haughty IT managers pridefully defending their imagined fiefdom? Or simply an old-fashioned communication breakdown between senior decision makers and IT heads?

It could well be the latter. After all, 53 percent of senior decision makers have undertaken digital projects without having consulted the IT department at all.

“While this is a clear indicator of the increased responsibility that departments are taking for pursuing their own digital agendas, organisations need to be conscious of how easy they make it for departmental teams to make the changes needed to meet customer demands,” reads the report.

“Many of these decisions will be made without IT because the department in question has the remit to do so; 60 percent of teams claim they have complete autonomy when it comes to taking on new digital projects.”

“IT will [often] not be part of the decision-making process because departmental leads have become too frustrated by their own digital progress being restricted by their colleagues.”

And with department heads charging ahead with digital initiatives – with or without the cooperation of the IT department – organisations could well find themselves creating unexpected and serious security and governance vulnerabilities.

“The risk is that these individuals and lines of business are more likely to work around the existing checks and balances that are in place to ensure the security of the company and its data,” suggested the report.

At the end of the day, one thing seems certain: How organisations manage their digital transformations – and the obstacles to that transformation – will be central to their success. While it’s easy to pay lip service to progressive principles, it’s the doing of the thing that counts.

DocuSign is pushing its own barrow with this report – of course – but the sentiment is accurate: The future belongs to those businesses that find a way to meet changing customer expectations. Companies which ignore that fact do so at their peril – and risk reputation, revenue and security in the process.

Access the Digitise or die: Australia’s digital expectations report.


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