Building innovative new products and services are a necessity for businesses of all sizes, but CIOs have more to worry about than product development as their companies change rapidly.
Amidst rapid business change, CIOs face two types of challenges—concrete organizational challenges and softer challenges surrounding culture and talent.
Organization Challenges as Your Business Undergoes Major Change
In the context of technology strategy for business outcomes, mergers and acquisitions are what initiate rapid changes for your company. Once you get through the process of deciding which CIO will assume the post-merger/acquisition leadership role, you’re left with a business that looks much different than what you started with.
Rather than having the technology complexity to deal within your original company, you double (or even triple) the complexity to the point that you might not even know what you’re working with.
Before you can meet the demands of your new executive business partners, you have to sort through all the complexity and develop a long-term technology strategy. One of the best ways to do this is to walk through The Feld Group’s management framework.
When you conduct a current state, future state, and gap plan analysis, you can understand the nature of the business model changes you’ve just inherited. Then, decide which business processes are redundant, complementary, opposite one another, etc.
As you organize the changes to these business processes, you’ll find that they relate directly to your IT portfolio and you can start prioritizing a tech strategy for long-term success.
Culture and Talent—The Softer Challenges During Business Change
As your company changes rapidly through mergers and acquisitions, not all challenges you face will directly involve the business model. Managing the culture shifts and the workforce talent as the company changes can be equally challenging.
It’s possible that your new direct reports have reached the height of their leadership skills and won’t adapt well to a larger scope or even to change in general. And the work ahead as prescribed by the strategy may call for significantly different skill sets that were not needed in any prior organizations. And finally, you’ve probably added new elements to your company culture and you need leaders that can help you integrate cultures and not let them become barriers to the future state.
You may need to bring leaders in from outside the company, or ask people to accept new roles that are significantly different from the ones they had previously, Every business is different, but there will undoubtedly be tough decisions, and those decisions must be made in alignment to the strategy and work behind the roadmap, not to your previous reporting relationships. Structure, spans of control, responsibilities, career paths etc. may all need to change, so begin now to assess individuals’ competencies against that future as you are building the strategy.
Advice for Companies Laying the Groundwork for Business Change
As we’ve said, business change is inevitable and CIOs must be prepared when your business really starts to evolve and grow. Here are some tips for CIOs looking to cultivate talent that can adapt to change more seamlessly:
- Recruit for Versatility: It won’t do your changing business much good if employees throughout the organization aren’t willing to change themselves. For example, you might have had an entirely .NET shop, but are transitioning more to Java in the wake of a merger or acquisition. You want .net developers who are willing to learn Java or UI/UX developers willing to learn more about building services.
- Recruit for Pattern Recognition: You want to recruit and reward those who have good pattern recognition skills. It’s important that new pieces that are added to your organization aren’t looked at as unicorns—that is, new pieces will always have similarities and connections to what you already have in place. You want employees who can recognize the synergy and commonalities within your organization as it changes.
- Street Smarts Are Important: As your business changes rapidly, nothing will ever go perfectly. There will be plenty of uncertainties and unknowns along the way. Thinking on your feet is important, and since you can’t be everywhere to do that thinking—make sure your team is ready to think on their feet too. This is especially important when the scale of work underneath you has doubled or tripled because it frees up your bandwidth up to work on overall orchestration.
- Scaled, Agile Methodologies Are a Must: With tech innovation cycles happening so much faster, scaled, agile methodologies are a necessity. However, the planning work that precedes agile development must be more rigorous and thoughtful as ever. What this means is that you will need both big block planning and architectural skills that work well with agile development and deployment skills.
Change Can’t be Ignored
People generally don’t like change—there’s comfort in staying still and moving on with what we know. This might leave CIOs to continue approaching business change the same way they have for years. However, doing nothing in response to increasingly rapid business change can be a death knell for CIOs and their companies. Organizational change is just one of the aspects that need to be considered for merger and acquisition strategies. It is often one of the biggest blind spots CIOs have in building their go-forward strategies.
Ready to take a different approach to how you react to challenges as your business changes rapidly? Download our free ebook, Enterprise Technology for Business Outcomes, and learn how to leverage technology and create a long-term business strategy that can scale alongside your organization.
If you liked this article, listen to Dialexa’s Head of Technology Strategy, Russell Villemez, on Custom Made talk about the misconception of the phrase 'Digital Transformation':
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