Process Innovation in IT

Can IT Innovation flow this easily?

Major and minor innovations in process and technology in IT are especially common since technology changes so frequently.  The challenge comes in when you want to bring in major technology or process innovation.

What constitutes a major process innovation in IT? The answer to this varies depending on the size of the company and IT department, the type of company it is (e.g. High tech employees are more open to change in technology), and the overall innovation mentality/culture of the organization and its leaders.

One definition of major process innovation could be changing standards significantly enough to impact the user base and the IT team. For example, moving from having a standard mobile device for the work environment to allowing any mobile devices to be used for work is quite intensive; or the other way around, moving from no standards in mobile devices to having only one standard for mobile devices. Both involve a lot of back end work and change management of the users as well as the IT team.

Innovation Easers

Part of the ease in transition to the new process or technology is decided by how much your organization values IT and what the change brings to the environment. If you are a bank you are going to value your IT staff especially to keep high security standards on all technology.

Another factor in technology transitions in an organization is if there is a pull for the technology. As an example, if you are moving from Windows XP to a much more recent operating system (ie. Windows 7 with better mobile integration) your employees may have been asking for an upgrade for some time. The transition, while challenging, will be embraced rather than fought.

There is also the case for tools that make the employee’s and even the IT team’s life easier, like when Instant Messaging first came out.

Time savings could also be a significant factor for employees to hop on board innovation in IT. If it takes you 2 weeks to get software installed on your PC and the new process allows you to get the software within minutes the users are likely to support the new process once they see it in action. This is a harder sell to upper management since productivity savings do not seem to be as highly valued as much as straight up spend savings.

The transition is easier to accept and get financing for if it can increase revenues.

Innovation Neutrals

In my experience, for projects where there will be a large savings the pull isn’t large enough to get the company or the IT team to easily overcome changes and challenges. This is partly because innovation has so much to do with the culture of the company and the employees don’t see a direct impact on them for cost-saving improvements.  When it comes to the bottom line, projects in IT that can increase revenue end up getting higher priority than projects that create savings. Perhaps this is a reflection of the organizations I have worked in the past or perhaps it is a reflection of the economic environment. Perhaps it is because the organization needs to spend money through process and technology innovation in order to save money, making it a harder sell.

How does IT and innovation work in your company?