More digital transformation means less internal IT

Why it can be worthwhile for companies to rethink the role of the IT department.

Swabian Alps, 8:00 am, a rather nondescript office building: The Managing Director of a successful high-tech company enters the floor of the IT department. But except for empty cardboard boxes and a few flashing server cabinets, there is no one in sight. Where did the IT staff go?

Not long ago, the company chose a radical step: The core IT unit, which looks after setting up the servers and expanding the network, was completely transformed. Thanks to the consistent automation of IT processes, approximately 90 percent of the staff was able to take on new tasks. And where do they work now? They are now organized in interdisciplinary teams and look after what really matters, namely providing advice for solutions and conceptualizing new customer solutions. It was a courageous step for this high-tech company. But it was also a well-calculated step, because that is exactly what the Managing Director wanted. How did this happen?

Robots as system administrators

IT professionals are already in short supply, and they are needed well beyond the existing resources. But as of today, most capacities are utilized for IT operation and routine tasks that are not critical to the business. Many companies recognized that they do not need their own computer center, and that outsourcing allows their IT staff to look after higher-quality tasks. Services are usually obtained from the Cloud and must not be stored locally. A current example: Artificial intelligence solutions for the automatic adjustment, expansion and automatic configuration of internal networks are already available today. Artificial intelligence identifies the need for new capacities, independently integrates new components and configures the network – and it does this entirely on its own, without the need for human intervention. Say hello to your new admin colleague – a robot.


From internal IT to business IT

What may sound threatening at first is a consequence of the companies’ internal digital transformation developments. This transformation has always been customer-centered – hence it was directed to the outside. Now, the attention is increasingly turning inwards. This is the hour of IT. As a part of interdisciplinary teams, IT staff develops improved customer experiences, new apps and innovative business models. In other words: Core IT staff merges with Business IT.


Away from routine activities towards creating more customer added value

If the core of internal IT can do without staff in the future, it is only natural that people would start to become concerned about their own workplaces. This is where top management must come in: Communicating transparent objectives and processes, thereby highlighting that most employees are urgently needed in other areas – an accelerated digitization process is not possible without these activities.

This is what happened to the Managing Director from the Swabian Alps. He recognized that competitiveness is not decided by the configuration of servers but rather by the most innovative and most customer-friendly solutions.