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A majority of the Fortune 500 companies will not survive digitalization. Enormous amounts of revenue and customer value will be transferred from traditional companies (traditional governance structure) to digital companies (agile governance structure) where value, time and leadership plays a pivotal role in the managing the IT department. It is all about our personal journey and challenging our comfort zones!

A couple of years ago, when I started my journey into the territory of digitalization, it was quite a new concept and not really in focus of the IT department. I remember a conference in September 2013 discussing IT Governance 2.0 where 99% of all discussions referred to traditional IT management and traditional decision models. I was the ”odd duck” at the conference speaking on the real affect of digitalization and how IT management must join the digital movement with new way of working. “Interesting thoughts but not really valuable for us” was a general comment after my speech. Today, almost three years later, digitalization is on top of each CIO’s agenda. Still 90% of the discussions at conference and forums are from a traditional IT management perspective. There is a belief that we can achieve different results (digital growth) by digging further into traditional governance. I do not think so.

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”              Albert Einstein

To summarise the digital movement is difficult but I would empathise three different areas that are critical for IT department:

  • Value: defining IT’s capability to support business and customer with “value-adding” services. Rationalize activities and services that does not bring any value.
  • Time: recognizing the rapid change in the digital markets re-shaping how IT plans and acts on strategic level. What is true today in not true tomorrow! How fast can IT react to new trends and customer demand?
  • Leadership: creating an atmosphere of trust where employees (cross boarders) dare to be creative and challenge conventional ways of working. Moving away from “command and control” to a more inspirational and trust based leadership.

Much of the discussions about digitalization are about technical stuff such as Internet of Things, Mobility and Data Analysis, but the real difference relate to the three areas listed above. Why is that? Mainly because these are areas where a traditional CIO feels comfortable in discussing and managing. They can do the same things (traditional IT) and expect different groundbreaking results. It doesn’t work! The fact is that we are not so far from the IT Governance conference in 2013 as we would think – we are just using other words. Everything else is the same.

I have worked with a number of IT organizations to guide the digital journey. In the end, we always come back to the same question

“Are you will to step outside your comfort zone and change the foundation of IT management to achieve digital success?”

Very few CIOs would actually answer “no” to the question and talk widely about the importance of change and digitalization. But when change start to happen, and the foundation of IT management is challenged – most CIOs are very uncomfortable and do everything they can to resist change. I have seen this over and over – listening to all kind of excuses why it is not the right approach. Change is only ok if is easy and comfortable – and controllable. But isn’t this the whole idea of change – that we actually move outside our comfort zone and let go of control to achieve something much better? Only those who dare to challenge themselves will succeed with the digital movement – others will be lost.

The digital movement is not about technology but rather about value, time and leadership. If any one of these three areas fail – it is most probable that the digital initiative will fail. Easy as that! I would say that 90% of all IT organizations fail to address these three factors and the consequences are huge. A majority of the Fortune 500 companies will not survive digitalization. Enormous about of revenue and customer value will be transferred from traditional companies (traditional governance structure) to digital companies (agile governance structure) where value, time and leadership plays a pivotal role in the management of the company and IT department. Something to think about!

When I look back at the participants of the IT Governance conference of 2013, I sometimes wonder they came. Was the purpose to get new ideas to drive something new or ensure that they were doing the right things (building comfort zone). Probably both! But 99% of discussion revolved around “traditional way of working” and that set the agenda for the day. I would say that most participants did not get their money’s worth in the conference – and did not after the conference make a difference in their companies. The conference built up more barriers around their comfort zones rather than break them down.

My recommendation:

  • When embarking on the digital journey – ask yourself: “Are you will to step outside your comfort zone and change the foundation of IT management to achieve digital success?” If not – let someone else do it.
  • Attend conference but select those that challenge your comfort zone – not those that strengthen the same zone.
  • Is your digital journey based on value, time and leadership – if not, stop the current initiative and re-start with the right focus!
  • Contact professionals to support the digital journey! Contact Hans Gillior at Sofigate!

I felt a sense of disappointment after leaving the IT Governance 2.0 conference in September 2013. It was a warm day in beautiful surroundings but still I felt cold winds blowing through my mind. After a couple of days, I concluded that the time was not right for discussing digitalization and agile IT governance and that most CIOs were not ready for this kind of approach. Today, the situation is different – or is it? Digitalization is on top of the CIO agenda but unfortunately most IT organization apply traditional way of working hoping to achieve a greater result. Do we really believe that it is the best way forward? If not, time to step out of your comfort zone and make a true difference!

Hans Gillior: Senior Advisor (Sofigate) and Digital Evangelist