Why We Need to Change IT Culture

And Why It Takes a Village and a Sledgehammer

For consumers, the world is changing faster than ever. The web instantly gives what we want – where and when we want it. And it’s easy – a few taps of your smartphone, and you’ve booked a hotel, rented a car or streamed the latest music video. Rapidly evolving technology is behind this change, but the real story is a radically simpler and friendlier customer experience.

At the recent Gartner IT Expo, I spoke about how this has dramatic implications for IT. Every one of our users is also a consumer – and they have drastically different expectations compared to what IT traditionally delivers. Too often, IT has been seen as the department of “No” – caught up in our own importance and confident that we’re in the driving seat. Yes, we’re busy keeping the lights on, but our internal customers don’t – and shouldn’t – care about that.

Department of No - IT Culture

Image Copyright: © YAY Media AS / Alamy Stock Photo

We’re No Longer in Control
Let’s be clear. Our customers now have a choice – gone are the days when the business had to use IT’s services. There are many other options out there, fueled by the same people-friendly technology that has revolutionized the consumer world. People can now do things for themselves – or can find a responsive partner who will do it for them. The way people use technology is also shifting, and they’re not just willing to follow our lead. If we don’t want to go the way of the dodo, we have to adapt – and that means changing the way we think about IT.

The New IT
Going forward, IT has to be a service provider, not as a technology dictator. We need to solve our customers’ problems, make services easy to use, and become a trusted broker for new technologies and third-party services. In this new IT, our customers work with us because they want to, not because they have to. IT becomes the department of “Yes”, the first place the business comes to for innovative solutions – whether they’re our solutions, or solutions we find in the marketplace.

They Say it takes a village - IT CultureThe Village and the Sledgehammer
They say it takes a village to raise a child, and that’s certainly been our experience at Maritz. To drive this cultural shift, you need to focus on management and then the people. In IT, technically gifted people are often promoted to leadership roles – but now, we’re asking IT management to truly manage people, not just technology and processes. Team skills also need to change as you become a service-oriented and business-driven organization. It’s essential to hire and retain strategic, innovative and customer-focused people – and to accept the fact that some technical people will leave.

I can’t stress enough the importance of self-service and automation as you make this shift. Self-service empowers your customers, giving them the same easy, people-friendly experience at work that they get at home. Automation accelerates the delivery of these services, and frees up IT resources to focus on consultation and innovation – on solving customers’ problems and anticipating their needs.

Finally, don’t be afraid to use a sledgehammer. Honesty and directness is crucial – with yourself, with your IT organization and with your business. Communicate your strategy and tactics clearly, and take no prisoners. Above all, measure your success by how your customers perceive you. After all, that’s the only yardstick that really matters.

To find out how Maritz set out on this journey to a new service-based and customer-centric IT, take a look at my article “Five Steps to Enterprise-Wide Automation”.

ServiceNow information: ServiceNow customer success

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Brad Paubel

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