How can CIOs master IT Innovation and manage their zoo of applications to create a connected IT
Overall one could say that every company is somehow a software company, no matter in which industry, no matter if considered a global player or a medium-sized company. A well-connected IT is indispensable in corporate structures today. Although the influence of digitization is still subtle in many enterprises, it is essential for value creation and the development of new business models. The Chief Information Officer (CIO) thus becomes a key figure and can secure entrepreneurial success and development with their innovative IT team strength. But to make that happen, CIOs need to master IT innovation.
Gone are the days when IT was only responsible for the integration of IT processes and systems and their smooth use. The implementation of numerous standard software is no longer sufficient to meet the growing needs of users, digitize company-specific processes and at the same time secure competitive advantages. Today more than ever, IT is called upon to provide the impetus to bring the opportunities associated with new technologies to the company’s specialist departments. To take advantage of opportunities arising from digital offerings, one must provide the ability to experiment and CIOs need to master IT innovation at the very same time. The rapid prototyping of applications and the possibility of testing ideas with little effort are becoming more and more in demand here. But with which tools can this be successful and what blocks IT departments today to assume the role of innovators and idea providers to create a connected IT?
Building a Bridge with a Platform
In order to work as efficiently as possible, various business units place different requirements at the IT department. In most cases, these requests also mean very different technologies; be it a CRM system for sales, special mailing applications for marketing or a mobile applicant portal in recruiting. The demand on these applications is high – responsive, available across all devices and above all efficient, in order to streamline the complex but recurring workflows. An unmanageable number of different systems, UI technologies and data models can accumulate relatively quickly. Even a manufacturer strategy for applications, e.g. SAP, does not protect against having to deal with a whole lot of different technologies due to the expansive acquisition policy.
This is where platforms come into play – not only to fulfill a project and to realize individual applications or digital products, but also to implement application development efficiently and at scale, regardless of the requirement for a backend system and device, forming a true connected IT. From a practical point of view, the standardization of application development has many advantages. The skillset provided internally is kept as small as possible. On the cost side, the streamlining of the IT architecture, the synchronization of maintenance processes and reduced development costs also lead to significant advantages. The latter goes hand in hand with the new organization of the development teams. While backend and frontend development are separated in classical application development, modern development platforms offer the possibility to merge these tasks in one person. The internal coordination effort is thus significantly reduced and through the consistent integration of the specialist departments, shifts between initial requirements. Later, digital products can be detected at an early stage and corrective measures initiated. The highly praised agile project methods are thus only made livable with the right tools. The CIO’s task here is to initiate a cultural change in which the previous established separation between IT & Business, but also within the classic roles in IT, needs to be reconsidered.
The right platforms create time and space for innovation
Continuous innovation is essential and automatically linked to IT. CIOs need to be particularly convincing to maintain their position as an internal hub for innovation. In a survey of IT executives conducted by Forrester Research, respondents estimated that they spend an average of 72 percent of their budget on “keeping the lights on” functions such as replacing or expanding capacity and supporting day-to-day operations and maintenance, while only 28 percent of the money is spent on new projects – with the risk of employees increasingly blocking innovation or even frustratedly moving to more agile start-ups.
At the business unit level, this often leads to IT departments shrinking in staff numbers through the systematic release of competence and owning a reputation as cost drivers internally. In contrast, the confidence in innovative strength and the ability to implement projects on one’s own in “Time & Budget” and above all with the desired result is often low. The desire for a controllable IT system landscape and the call for easily accessible development tools is easy to understand and has led to a rapid spread of terms such as low code or no code development.
While No-Code & Low-Code development particularly addresses the specialist departments and suggests implementing application development outside the responsibility of IT, some platform providers pursue a different strategy. The combination of “low-code” with “pro-code” has proven to be particularly versatile and promising. The idea behind this is that elements of low-code development merge sensibly with professional development tools. The developer is thus optimally supported in his work without being restricted in any way.
Innovation requires freedom! The systematic reduction of the complexity in IT systems, which has grown over decades, requires great effort, but at the same time opens up opportunities to use gained capacities for the actual realization of new ideas. This – by far – is what every company needs today to be and stay competitive. When implementing this strategy, central platforms form the foundation and offer the CIO all the freedom to direct and implement the entrepreneur’s requirements within regulations. A path not frequently traveled, but a path that helps master and futureproof a zoo of applications.
Author: Jan Peter Boecking
- An unmanageable number of systems, technologies and data models can accumulate quickly
- The standardization of application development has many advantages
- Central platforms offer the CIO all the freedom to direct and implement the entrepreneur’s requirements
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