In HR, we talk about workplace transformation pretty regularly. But what does it actually mean? In this mini-series, we’ll give you some tips and tricks to help you understand each type of transformation—and how you can foster it across your organization.
Technological breakthroughs like cloud computing, machine learning and artificial intelligence have revolutionized the workplace, and they are changing the way IT departments operate. Whereas these teams used to function in the background, maintaining technology and supporting the digital systems that help businesses run smoothly, today, they often prioritize innovation. Modern IT teams have shifted their focus toward upgrading outdated technology and implementing digital solutions that streamline operations. In other words, they specialize in digital transformation.
What Does IT Do?
The IT department is so much more than a digital maintenance crew. Its employees also handle data management, computer and wireless systems, network security, hardware repair, maintenance and upgrades. IT is also responsible for a company’s software portfolio, weighing in on which software to provide company employees. These professionals also organize the installation and troubleshooting of that software once it’s implemented.
While other departments within a company go about their business, IT is continuously assessing the efficiency of its processes and how they help—or hinder—the company’s overall performance. Using this information, IT realigns its strategies, selecting new vendors and products, and eliminating constraints to the company’s digital workflow whenever possible.
But with modern business demands constantly evolving, there are a number of challenges and opportunities that IT teams face. For instance, cross-team collaboration between members of IT and the rest of your organization can be difficult if the department has typically functioned only in the background. And sometimes, the goals of HR and IT departments are at odds with one another: While HR teams might want quick access to data when answering employee or business questions, IT teams prevent them from doing so with data security and role-based access. No matter how challenging, this collaboration is the key to developing a more digitally agile workplace. So to facilitate a successful digital transformation, HR must bridge the gap between IT and the rest of the workforce.
Foster Cooperation by Breaking Down Barriers
Although IT should continue to function as its own department, HR can work in tandem with IT to implement digital transformation strategies. The best way to do this is by breaking down the barriers that separate IT from the rest of the company. An open dialogue with IT helps workers get more efficient technology that makes their jobs simpler rather than more complicated, and IT staff can do their jobs more easily when they hear about the company’s needs straight from employees rather than filtered through secondary sources.
To enable this dialogue, establish collaborative pathways between the two groups. This starts on a personal level. Schedule times when workers can meet the IT staff face-to-face (or via video messaging tools like Zoom or Webex, if your workers operate remotely or from different offices) and make sure workers know the names of the IT employees who will be upgrading and servicing their technology.
Beyond the initial meeting, help both groups continue the conversation. Workers should be able to contact an IT representative regarding their concerns, and the IT department must implement a strategy to collect feedback from workers about present and future technology projects. Encourage use of tools like Slack to enable constant communication.The easier you make it for employees to touch base with their IT staff, the more likely they will.
Enhancing the IT-Workforce Relationship
HR’s role in maintaining an effective relationship between IT and the workforce doesn’t end after setting up this initial exchange. You should also continue educating employees about the IT department’s changing role in the digital workplace. While there was once a time when IT only repaired computers, its new role is now more fluid and involves applying, maintaining, scaling and protecting all of the digital components of your company’s daily tasks.
Go a step further by creating an innovation council. Recruit representatives from each of your company’s departments and schedule regular times for them to come together and discuss the digital barriers the company faces. IT will work with them to strategize potential solutions.
Don’t forget to incorporate the company’s leadership into your IT development plans. Leaders should have a direct hand in all major IT decisions, even though many of those in executive roles do not have technology backgrounds. Bridge the gap between your IT department and leadership by organizing opportunities for IT to educate key internal stakeholders on new technological and organizational advances. One way to do this is to set up times for your innovation council to present ideas and solutions—focusing on what they can do to make jobs easier and more efficient—before leaders make final decisions on implementing new technology.
With the right processes in place, your organization will be well-equipped to leverage the expertise your IT team offers, and, in turn, remain at the forefront of the digital revolution.
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