Beyond Tech Support
Many would make the case that the IT department, or IT specialist on the team, plays an integral role in the company’s innovation efforts. The IT team is often in a foundational role, as more organizations invest time and resources in technology, especially with the growing wave of digital transformation taking place across industries in the innovation space. So, in essence, the IT team supports the innovation team by making sure operations and infrastructure runs smoothly.
However, IT can also provide much more than tech support. As one blog on IdeaWake, “What Is IT’s Role in Your Organization’s Innovation Plan?” notes, “By allowing your IT department to lead the way on technological innovation, your organization will witness a wave of innovative thinking, from management to your frontline employees. The most innovative companies have already recognized this, with over 62% of high-growth companies investing in technology in order to grow their innovative potential.”
Strategizing with your IT leaders can be as simple as holding regular meetings. Weekly interdepartmental meetings help groups recalibrate and prioritize present tasks while developing future assets. This will help bring in the IT specialist as a strategic partner in innovation and transformation efforts. This will also help create a focus on risk assessment. Creating and cultivating an atmosphere of sharing will help both IT and innovation teams with co-creation initiatives. Recognize your IT professionals’ skills and listen to what they have to say. Communicate with each other and rely on their experience and technical expertise. You can be sure that other newcomers, startups and disruptors to your industry are doing the same as they develop their products and services.
An article on All Things Innovation recently explored, “Putting Together Your Innovation Team.” Innovation teams are no longer working in a bubble, or at least not as much as they used to. Moving forward for agile organizations there is a much greater emphasis on cross-collaboration with other teams and departments in the company. From marketing and finance, to research and insights, to technology and IT services, innovation teams are expected to integrate, co-create and align with the business and its strategies on a broader level.
In terms of technology, digital transformation is clearly a key hot topic in this year’s Innovation Spend & Trends Report, as innovation executives weigh in on the issue of advancing technology in their data capture, analysis and visualization needs. In the survey, just under two-thirds of the community list digital transformation as the biggest opportunity for the innovation discipline. About 65% of respondents listed digital transformation as the biggest opportunity in the field. These digital initiatives have existed in primarily finance and IT over the past few years. But efficiencies have been gained and now it seems that the innovation discipline is being tasked with taking those digital technology plans forward.
Plug into IT
Information technology specialists can bring several benefits to an innovation team. We plugged into ChatGPT and explored some ways in which IT specialists can contribute and add value to an innovation team:
- Technical Expertise: IT specialists possess in-depth technical knowledge and expertise in various areas of information technology. They can provide valuable insights and guidance on emerging technologies, software development, infrastructure, data management, and security. Their expertise can help the innovation team make informed decisions and develop effective technology solutions.
- Problem Solving and Troubleshooting: IT specialists are skilled at problem-solving and troubleshooting complex technical issues. They can apply their analytical thinking and troubleshooting skills to identify and resolve challenges that arise during the innovation process. Their ability to find practical solutions can save time and resources for the team.
- Technology Evaluation and Selection: As technology evolves rapidly, IT specialists can assist the innovation team in evaluating and selecting the right tools, software, and technologies to support their projects. They can conduct thorough assessments, compare options, and provide recommendations based on factors like functionality, scalability, compatibility, and cost-effectiveness.
- System Integration: IT specialists can help integrate various systems and technologies within the innovation team’s workflow. They can streamline processes, automate tasks, and ensure seamless communication and data exchange between different tools and platforms. This integration can enhance collaboration, efficiency, and overall productivity of the team.
- Data Analysis and Insights: Data plays a crucial role in innovation, and IT specialists can contribute by analyzing and interpreting data relevant to the team’s projects. They can leverage their data management skills, utilize analytical tools, and extract meaningful insights from large datasets. These insights can inform decision-making, identify trends, and guide the development of innovative solutions.
- Cybersecurity and Risk Mitigation: With the increasing reliance on technology, cybersecurity is a critical concern for innovation teams. IT specialists can contribute their knowledge of cybersecurity best practices, risk assessment, and data privacy regulations. They can help identify potential vulnerabilities, implement security measures, and ensure the protection of sensitive information throughout the innovation process.
- Continuous Learning and Adaptability: IT specialists are accustomed to continuous learning and keeping up with the latest technological advancements. They can bring this mindset to the innovation team, staying updated on industry trends, exploring new tools and methodologies, and sharing their knowledge with team members. Their adaptability can contribute to an agile and innovative work environment.
According to Deloitte’s Innovation Study in 2021, 80% of CIOs and tech leaders say they are driving their companies’ innovation efforts. The next most common roles involved in innovation were strategy at 48% and operations at 43%, indicating that technology by a wide margin is the primary function driving enterprise innovation. Deloitte notes, “CIOs are uniquely positioned to fuel their company’s growth, as they are already responsible for high-growth initiatives like data monetization and digital transformation. With nearly three quarters of organizations expecting to have an excellent or leading innovation capability in the next two years, CIOs should develop a methodical approach to innovation that can lead to differentiated growth.”
Overall, IT specialists bring a unique set of skills and expertise to an innovation team, enabling them to leverage technology effectively, overcome technical challenges, and drive successful innovation initiatives. Clarify your mission, build the right operating model and establish agile ways of working with IT.
As Deloitte notes in its article, “The innovation imperative: Lessons from high-growth companies,” “Accomplishing this across the innovation life cycle and scaling solutions to drive corporate growth is not an easy task—but savvy CIOs know that it is the only way for them to differentiate and deliver impact. Tech leaders should view this as an opportunity to rise to the occasion and push their organizations to new frontiers of growth.”
Video courtesy of CIO