The realities of digital business put most companies on their heels. Few are ready for the technology and business shifts that will define the next generation of market leaders. New technologies–from social to mobile to cloud to digital to analytics–now help answer business questions. However, an enterprise needs the correct amount of human stewardship and IT sourcing to seize the ring that digital business represents.
Martin Gill, VP Principal Analysis at Forrester, recently wrote an article that deserves attention: Why Most Digital Transformations Will Fail (And How To Make Sure Yours Doesn’t). I am more optimistic than Gill.
Gill notes that digital leadership is no longer just about the CEO. One-third of CEOs told Forrester that they previously set digital strategy — a serious misuse of their time and resources. Meanwhile, only 21% of executives say that their CEO sets a clear strategy that focuses on customers. There’s a serious disconnect there. However, this speaks to flawed execution, not misguided strategy.
Let’s take a closer look.
CEOs realize their shortcomings and look increasingly to their CIOs for solutions. According to The Economist, 75% of CEOs want their CIOs to play advisory business strategy roles in the C-suite. IT alone is just table stakes. Moreover, economic performance for organizations whose CIOs were part of overall development strategy outpace their competition by 2:1. CIOs are in the position to understand best what, where, and how new technology can accelerate strategic innovation. For the CIO, this transition from IT to business strategy not only helps drive digital transformation, but can also make his career.
Let’s consider a real-life sourcing example. Imagine an executive in a medium-sized midwestern city (i.e. not in a technology belt). He has been charged with spearheading a project that requires a healthy number of iOS developers. Locally, that particular skill is rare; supply does not even approximate the demand for this particular project alone. In years past, that executive had various options. He could move forward with limited supply and obtain a sub-par result. He could outsource the project abroad and hope the talent really exists. He could go through the time-consuming (and profit-eating) motions of finding an iOS shop. None of those options is viable in today’s business world. Martin Gill suggests that a new way is needed, including open innovation, to move forward the project quickly, cheaply, and with outstanding results.
Crowdsourcing has allowed enterprises to tap into millions of expert data scientists, developers, and designers worldwide to solve issues ranging from building CRM applications that allow established, non-technology-based companies to fundamentally change the way they work with their customers to changing the way in which Harvard Medical School conceives of its research in immunogenomics — a world-class shift.
In the iOS example above, there is no longer what one might label ‟just” a local search. From one’s office, one can find among a crowdsourcing community of expert iOS developers (global supply) to meet local demand. Moreover, seven iOS developers in five different locations can work together by means of cloud-based platforms to provide a solution for an agile competitive enterprise built to adapt.
CIOs focused on business results should pilot the use of these expert communities to get a competitive edge while reducing development cost and implementation efforts. Finally, innovation is not a one-stop rodeo. Rather, innovation cycles discover novel courses of action over time. The enterprise constantly gathers this knowledge in order to develop innovative courses of action that make the company built to adapt over the long term.
Crowdsourcing is the most effective way of sourcing IT in order to adapt over the short and long term. Moreover, crowdsourcing achieves something profound — it eliminates corporate boundaries in the era of digital business. The notion of looking merely inside the enterprise no longer passes muster. One must also look over the horizon to find the finest global talent available.
Crowdsourcing is not a new process, but it is relatively new to IT sourcing. With the cloud as a medium to look outward to the crowd, crowdsourcing has exploded. Tapping into the community collective offers an agile, low-cost sourcing option to meet demand, corporate goals, and the need to innovate. Costs are dramatically lower than other such as outsourcing or a full-time employee.
Crowdsourcing provides the means to bypass the linear IT sourcing process of the past in favor of agility. The greatest paradigm shift in IT since the Internet’s ubiquity has not been purely tactical, but rather a strategic means of effectively shifting innovation paradigms in the manner undertaken by Harvard Medical School in immunogenomics or how the International Space Station now aligns its solar arrays to capture energy within highly prescribed limitations. These are “extreme value outcomes” never even conceived of by those who posed the question to be solved.
Traditional innovation between four walls no longer suffices for a company to compete on equal footing with adaptive competitors around the globe. Why? Because its four walls are gone. Outside lies a big world with millions of experts ready to solve your most pressing business challenges. The promise of IT sourcing has never been as strategic and accessible. What are you waiting for?
This article was written by Ben Kerschberg from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.