Digital business requires collaboration
A new leadership model is needed for digital businesses and most companies' survival depends on their ability to exploit IT.
This is according to Abbie Lundberg, president of Lundberg Media and contributing editor of the Harvard Business Review, speaking at the Oracle Cloud day in Johannesburg yesterday.
One of the fundamental dilemmas of digital business is there is a need for high-end, sophisticated mature technology that is secure and on the other hand companies need a simple, intuitive and pleasurable experience for customers, said Lundberg.
Companies are wrestling with how to take these two needs and bring them together - bridging the gap between these two different components, she added.
"Traditional IT leadership isn't enough anymore. Organisations must adopt digital leadership, which requires IT and the business to work together to make technology decisions."
Traditional business and IT lines have blurred - it is extending into marketing and engineering and the business now has to learn about IT and how it works, said Lundberg, quoting Kathy McElligott, CIO at Emmerson, a global manufacturing and technology company.
She believes digital business is about exploiting information, customers' wants and doing operations differently.
According to a 2014 survey conducted by Harvard Business Review and Oracle, digital business is increasingly becoming a team sport; and 60% of business leaders are now directly involved in making IT decisions, said Lundberg.
Digital business requires more collaboration between business and IT and there is now more joint involvement across business units, she continued.
Working together can involve co-locating staff, cross-functional reporting, new development models like Agile and DevOps, or working with business relationship managers who can bridge the gap between IT and the business, explained Lundberg.
"I cannot emphasise enough the importance of digital partnership, there are not enough CEOs in the world. This has to be a collaborative effort - collaborate, co-design and co-create.
"Technology is so integral to the business now it cannot be done in a vacuum, if your IT department is siloed off somewhere that's not going to work in a digital business."