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Look past ‘disruption’ to cultivate leadership in IT


Author: Adrian Velez, HP Enterprise Group – Content Strategist


IT is undergoing a significant cultural transformation in which support functions are becoming key change agents and strategic advisors. The proliferation of data, heightened customer demands, and evolution of service-oriented technologies are pushing organizations to ‘disrupt’ existing infrastructures and in the process create new systems.


Effective leadership in IT comes from prioritizing continuous evolution over sudden disruption. Change agents, at all organizational levels, can expedite the process by embracing the following mindsets.


Laser-focus on existing processes

A technology-first transformation strategy can leave organizations gridlocked by overlooking the cultures, people, and processes that ultimately make change sustainable. The ‘new style of IT’ shouldn’t change a business’s core direction. As Colin Mahony, Senior VP and GM, Big Data Group, HP Software puts it:


“Organizations can’t simply boil the ocean. I think we all know that would be pretty impossible given the enormity of what’s out there.”


As Mahony explains, leadership in IT comes from tackling a subset of finely focused business challenges — to start with something small, make it successful, and inspire the entire organization.


“Find a project that you can do in weeks and months,” says Mahony. “Make it a success. What we see is organizations repeat this pattern over and over in tackling multiple challenges. Change then becomes a part of the culture.”


Comfort with the unknown

From security to storage infrastructure, the future of IT is full of unknowns. In today’s connected landscape, organizations must adapt to fluctuating circumstances that are often outside of their control.


“The genre of storage architecture from 20 to 25 years ago was built for a different time, for a very predictable set of applications where demand was generated from inside the application,” says Craig Nunes, VP of storage marketing at HP.


“You had a long planning horizon of three to five years and knew what was coming in advance. Therefore you had the luxury of time and could plan everything down to the very smallest detail.”


Those days are long-gone — replaced by a fast-moving, dynamic business environment. IT is now in a constant state of transition, with success depending on an organization’s ability to react to fast-growing — or fluctuating — customer demand, as well as vulnerabilities.


Affinity with customers’ needs

One way that IT leaders can effectively manage change is to preempt it. This approach requires a strong sense of empathy with customers’ needs. Companies that are closely aligned with their customers will be best-positioned to evolve with them.


“At HP, for instance, we provide our customers with educational enhancement in the form of workshops,” says Mahony. “We demonstrate what’s possible with data, how they can leverage analytics, and how they can become a part of the new style of IT.”


In addition to providing customers with learning and onboarding opportunities, IT leaders can take the time to listen — to understand every component of multiple priorities.


“I think we often take for granted what’s happening behind the scenes of so many products and services that we consume every day,” says Mahony. “Just look at the mail service. The amount of information they’re using to analyze mail delivery is staggering.”


In other words, it’s worthwhile to study more than what customers may be sharing at face value. Time spent understanding complex, ‘behind-the-scenes’ operations will help IT leaders grow their operations into new areas.


Final thoughts

When it comes to the future of IT, the only certainty is change. Listen to your customers, stay focused on business processes, and get comfortable with what you can’t predict. These three mindsets will be crucial to your organization’s ability to adapt.


IT needs to move from an organization that constantly says no to one that says, "Yes, I can help you with that challenge." To facilitate this change IT needs to be more exploratory and experimental and able to pivot quickly when it discovers that something isn't working. Read the Insights: 2015 Infrastructure Imperatives eBook to see how you can use digital technologies to increase agility and boost innovation. Getting to the art of the possible by moving to the New Style of IT.


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Insights: 2015 Infrastructure Imperatives

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