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Gokhan Ozcagiran, Director Of Information Technology, Bayraktar Grubu
As an IT professional working almost 25 years in this function, I had roles in the IT transformation pushed by business transformation. Mostly, I had leadership roles in Automotive OEM manufacturers. When I looked at the past, IT had transformed itself as
-Moving back office function to business enabler role
- Evolving from technical support silo to business partner
- Evolving from technology adapter to transforming business to digital
All above had brought different challenges that are still ongoing. Also 2-3 years a new challenge is appearing to be added to the list. Especially there is one challenge that it never lasts, as IT being accepted a “cost center”. If you are not leading an IT function in a technology or technology dependent service provider company, It is the biggest challenge to overcome.
IT Challenges from Cost and Talent perspectives
IT and business are evolving simultaneously. Competition is though, costs to reduce, profitability to increase, economic eases to deal with, Covid-19 impacts, reducing customer confidence and sales. Business is looking for solutions to overcome with these challenges and pushing IT to lead to be problem solver with digitalization.
In parallel, IT has duties as keeping the lights on, retiring legacy systems, upgrading ERPs, cloud technologies, big data, integrations, Industry 4.0, business intelligence, machine learning, artificial intelligence, augmented reality and keeping “costs” low.
There is also human challenge of IT to recruit and hire new technology skilled IT talents to the team. Business is looking for new solutions to change the game and overcome the challenges. Game changers are new IT technologies, but it is hard to find experienced and skilled technology talents in the market for the technologies that were developed in the last 5-7 years. Technologies that have been discussed 10 years ago in IT world, are now “old” and “already used” to transform business. There is talent shortage to apply new technologies and transform business.
This brings a new challenge to IT as to attract new tech skilled talent with “low or no additional cost”. To satisfy this “low or no additional cost” demand, IT is handling additional responsibility while transforming business, keeping projects feasible while trying to satisfy business digital transformation demands.
Managing cost and attracting the talent, what else? Hiring the talent with new tech skills and keeping the whole team motivated and fresh, is the summary of whole challenge. Market has shortage on new tech skilled employees, which is critical for digital transformation projects. Getting consultancy and outsourced services is an option, however this does not help you to keep experience and knowledge in your team, for long term. Being business enabler is requiring to create collaborative work space with new and old technology skilled employees with fresh ideas in your team, to create innovative business solutions.
Mix of experience and new tech skills in team, is essential to create value on legacy systems integrated with new tech solutions.
There is no one true in IT world. Based on your available resources you have many solutions for problems. Single approach as migrating whole IT operations to new trending technologies or totally being stuck on legacy systems and technologies, is not the optimized solution for IT to be business partner and enabler. Nowadays, IT critical role is being an optimizer as
- Between old and new technology approaches,
- Being business partner and enabler with an efficient tech mix,
- Nonstop review of feasibility in trending IT technologies and approaches.
My Role as an IT leader
As an IT leader, I am focusing on below challenges with changing priorities
- Follow up tech trends to discover opportunities for business, be tech “follower”
- Till retire, integrate old systems with new technology for optimized solutions
- Establish “data lake” from operations for business decisions. Keep reachable your “data lake” via integrations. Let your data be meaningful for business via powerful Business Intelligence tools
- Evaluate business requests with Pro’s and Con’s
- Create approach of Digital Transformation is a corporate work culture shift. It is not an IT project
- Creating approach in business “feel responsible” about feasibility and cost in business requests
- Creating approach in IT team “feel responsible” about business challenges, being pro-active solution providers and acting as business partners
- Keep your team fresh and motivated, “live and lead” them
- Hire new tech employees to foresee opportunities in trending technologies
- Proving and convincing the BoD, more than being “cost”, IT investments
o Have ROI, impact on business results and profitability
o Provide advantage in competition, market, customer service quality
o Provide security on financial, business and manufacturing data
o Provide Health & Safety & Environment security on manufacturing automation
o Have compliance with regulations
o Provide control of all corporate “knowledge assets”
Advise for future IT Directors and CIOs
As mentioned at the beginning of article, I have almost 25 years of experience in different IT roles. Always has been a “hands on” leader. When your teams seeks advise from you, you should know the systems and technologies to consult them. Encourage your team to collaborate and connect with business. This is the way that that prevents working in silos and understanding the business challenges and bottlenecks. Be in close touch with your team members, they are human and needs interact with you as a leader. Ensure your IT function leaders are trained on project management. This approach may help every member of your team to speak same language and how to optimize the usage of limited resources.
Understand and apply the risk calculation, making feasibility study and proving ROI of each IT project or investment as a finance person. This will help you to get convince and get support from BoD.
And final advise, be customer centric, success is depends on your customer happiness who are IT solution users.