While innovation certainly has been a large aspect of running a business for CIOs in the past, it appears as if it has become less of a focus point for them over the years. This is particularly apparent in the way CIOs handle Unified Communications and other IT businesses aspects. IT needs to do what it can to provide innovative solutions that are secure, top-quality and cost-efficient.
If IT was more involved in the business as a partner inspiring growth, CIOs could find that their businesses benefit from more innovation. There are ways for IT staff to have a bigger role in business without becoming distracted from primary IT functions.
Here are some steps CIOs can take to encourage innovation with IT.
1. Develop Business Impact Strategies
Businesses can inspire more innovation if a group gets together to discuss how each branch of the business can get involved. In many cases, a simple solution can positively affect ROI, and IT might be responsible for that solution.
Business leaders can come together to look at all aspects of business operations to determine where improvements can be made. This will generate criteria that will be helpful for both IT personnel and unit teams to follow. Each team involved in looking at business impact should ideally have no more than two or three people to offer ideas and suggest which projects are worth continuing.
2. Have IT Go into the Field
This step involves a small team of IT staff members with a business mindset, and a few representatives from the business side, such as members of sales and operations teams. Together, they can take a closer look at the issues employees are facing by asking questions and listening for feedback that might be helpful. The goal here is to figure out what might be decreasing productivity or resulting in unneeded expenses.
It may take a couple of weeks to gather all of the information needed and to come up with a solution. IT solutions to issues that are discovered might include developing customized applications, opening access to specific tools, and adding VoIP, or other communications elements.
3. Meet to Focus on Innovative Solutions
At this phase in the process, IT and a business unit team meets to discuss what each has managed to find, and determines which efforts can ultimately improve business operations and decrease unnecessary spending. Innovative ideas will be needed to help ensure success. A scatter chart displaying results of solutions as they relate to business impact and ease of implementation might be helpful in this situation.
4. Develop Technology Prototypes
Here is where IT will actually develop the technology solutions, which can take one or two months. A schedule that keeps IT professionals aware of the length of a project should be created. Prototypes developed should include aspects such as the user interface, and should project how the solution will affect ROI and business operations. IT staff will also want to determine if new technology might be beneficial, performing research to do so.
5. Build the Prototype
Once approved, the prototype project can finally be built. This step won’t involve the customer as much because they have already reviewed all of the expenses, risks, and technological options involved. Building the prototype won’t take long, and development of the prototype might actually introduce IT professionals to new technological innovations.
6. Repeat the Process for Future Innovations
After the above steps have been completed, they can be used again within another project.