It’s important that CIOs realize the different degrees of IT ambition and digital ability that their “internal customers” have. IT teams should think about building a digital model that can not only engage, but provide different types of support based on the kind of help business partners need.
To do this, IT professionals need to play any of five roles to provide the help business partners are looking for.
1. Evangelizing: Not all business partners are enthused by digitization. IT should inspire and educate them about new digital opportunities.
2. Consulting: IT should offer advice and frameworks to help business partners who want to define and articulate a digital vision and own the digital experiments aligned to that vision. An example of this would be the IT team at a global medical technology company creating a framework to guide business partners on due diligence conversations as they work with technology vendors themselves.
3. White Labeling: Enabling business partners who want to own their own IT or digital initiatives also requires IT to provide access to internal and external expertise. For instance, the EA team at a leading beverage manufacturer evaluating more than 100 startups, emergent vendors, and brokered connections with internal business sponsors.
4. Coaching: IT can use its cross-company vantage point and technical expertise to coach employees. This will help them understand and embrace new systems and a new IT infrastructure.
5. Delivering: IT should also enter the “technology delivery process” (completing a project or rolling-out an existing technology or piece of software) based on where it has comparative advantage. A leading consumer packaged goods company, for instance, defines trigger points based on scalability, risk, and compliance to inform both business partners and IT when a business-led initiative should transition to IT for full-scale deployment.