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Digitization: IT departments have to reinvent themselves


In "Digital Insights - Digitization: 7 perspectives from practice", the digitization professional, author and interim manager Mathias Hess explains how digitization can succeed if companies establish change management that involves employees and actively involves them on the path to digital transformation so that the new technologies and collaboration models can develop their full benefits.

Mathias Hess: "IT departments will have to reinvent themselves". (Image: Best Practice Verlag)

Data is the new gold - but very soon IT will no longer be the gold digger. In the context of digitization, the requirements for the IT department are changing, as more and more processes in the company run automatically. Instead, complex networked, often external applications will dominate day-to-day operations. The organization of IT is thus assuming a fundamentally new role: away from problem-solving cost optimizers and towards creative business enablers.

Old-style IT departments cannot shape digitization

“We are experiencing a massive change in technologies, processes and working methods. The chances are huge if we take everyone with us - especially the employees, ”emphasizes Mathias Hess. Mathias Hess is a digitization professional, interim manager and co-author of the book "Digital Insights - Digitization: 7 perspectives from practice". "If you want to shape digitization, you have to overcome departmental boundaries and silo thinking," adds the interim manager, who has been in the digital world for around a quarter of a century - in large national corporations, as CIO and IT manager as well as in responsible management positions at IT Service providers. Overcoming the silo mentality also includes being open to cloud solutions and IT outsourcing and opening up your own interfaces for customers or suppliers, for example. But internally, too, the focus must become more holistic. Digitization can only succeed if every employee interacts and is involved and departmental boundaries cease to be communication boundaries.

At the moment, many managing directors would still shy away from taking the step into a fully digitized future, the expert observes. Others would fail due to a lack of analysis in advance and the lack of a coherent concept. "While the IT department of the company is faced with the question of which IT solutions are best suited to the new business model and offer the most advantages for the company and the customers in view of the almost infinite range of technical solutions, the management is faced with the task of To develop a company-wide digitization strategy that takes into account both customer wishes and market requirements and thus becomes an essential part of the corporate strategy, ”said Hess.

Think less about the problem

It takes big concepts and visions, it is about the design of all business relationships and processes with the involvement of customers and all value creation participants, not about small repairs to the existing system. Anyone who takes digitization seriously must think that way. Many IT departments reach their limits in this way of thinking. That is the job of the management. A digital transformation is about the future direction of the company. The IT department can provide support here with know-how, but it cannot become a decision-maker. “Many IT departments think too much of the problem and not enough visionary of the solution,” says Hess.

Digitization requires targeted change management that includes employees and actively involves them on the path to digital transformation. The fears of employees and other stakeholders about new business models need to be taken seriously and proactively addressed. "Agile corporate management, open communication with employees and their early involvement in the digitization process as well as a healthy error culture are essential for this," emphasizes Hess.

Practical guide for SMEs

In “Digital Insights - Digitization: 7 Perspectives from Practice”, seven successful interim managers report directly from practice. They shed light on megatrends and technical innovations, address entrepreneurial, procedural, ethical, social and global issues as well as the relationship between managers and employees. The seven authors come from different industries and specialist areas and bring together their entire specialist knowledge in "Digital Insights", making it usable for small and medium-sized companies. The book is a practical guide and provides valuable food for thought as well as solid tips. The value of the work lies in the interdisciplinary composition of the group of authors and in the easily understandable communication of the messages. The book is not technological gibberish, but offers concrete support for the first steps in the company.

The authors Elmar M. Gorich (Business 2030: the business models of the future), Mathias Hess (From IT to Change Management - the human factor of digitization), Matthias Koppe (digitization is networking), Eberhard Müller (competitive through customer-focused value-added systems), Uwe Seidel (anything but standard: digitization needs a clear strategy), Bettina Vier (juggler work: customer focus in B2B relationships) and Ludger Wiedemeier (governance and transformation) speak clearly and paint a realistic picture of the opportunities and possibilities, but also from the challenges and risks. They provide insights from the tough practice of dozens of projects in medium-sized companies and international corporations and look at the topic of digitization from very different perspectives. All authors are members of the “Working Group on Digitization and Industry 4.0” of the umbrella company German Interim Management (DDIM) and are among the most recognized experts in their respective fields.

“Digital Insights - Digitization: 7 Perspectives from Practice” has been published by Best Practice Verlag and costs 39.90 euros. additional Information