Organisations must find a way to harness the power of digital technologies in a positive way, and IT professionals are key to doing so.

Digital is now a way of life in business and its impact runs deep. Digital technologies like fintech drive growth, enable the creation of new business models and help deliver improved customer experiences. They have facilitated immense growth by improving efficiency and enabling business to be done across borders.

Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Foundation, has even called on central banks to start issuing digital currency as part of the larger fintech revolution during the Singapore Fintech Festival 2018, in preparation for the digital future.

However, technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, while creating great opportunities, have also impacted many traditional job roles in areas such as manufacturing, logistics, construction and many other industries. To succeed, organisations must find a way to harness the power of digital technologies in a positive way. IT professionals, who live and breathe technology, may just be the key to helping businesses achieve this.

In this role, the demands on IT professionals have changed. IT professionals need to be able to understand business challenges, appreciate consumer pain-points, deliver innovative solutions to business problems, and engage stakeholders across seniority levels. In addition, as human-machine interaction becomes commonplace, IT professionals also need to build skills in complex and nebulous areas such as digital governance and legislative compliance.

This requires IT professionals to acquire and polish a whole host of new soft skills including leadership, communication and presentation, mentoring, negotiation, and collaboration. The development of such soft skills has been neglected in IT professionals in the past. Today, business leaders must facilitate the training of IT professionals and build these new capabilities quickly in order to use this valuable resource to its best effect.

There are three key areas that leaders should emphasise in order to enable IT professionals to thrive.

1. Setting the purpose
Like everyone else, IT professionals need a shared purpose in order to be their most productive selves. It is important to let your employees know that the work they do matters, so that they will be more deeply engaged in their work.
To be effective, businesses should embrace the principles to successfully ‘Think Big, Act Small’, where the organisational purpose is broken into simple actionable areas that can be practiced daily. This is far more impactful than just listing out the company’s vision and purpose on the office wall somewhere or in an employee handbook.

For example, at AdNovum, our purpose is to give customers peace-of-mind through our high-quality, custom-built software solutions. Hence, we equip our software developers with ten guidelines which gives them cues on how best to increase quality not just in every coding task but also in every client interaction. Our teams are asked to provide any form of improvement, no matter how incremental during any activity or meeting. This nurtures client-servicing skills, and ensures that any end-product delivered has been improved wherever possible.

2. Create a values-based culture
Cross-border collaborations are increasingly common in IT today. Software products and solutions are developed across multiple markets and might be deployed across even more. For IT teams to be effective in this landscape, it’s vital that a strong, values-based culture be established. Teams across countries can only be unified through a common organisational culture and shared processes. Beyond technical competency, organisational values and culture also determine what type of talent is attracted by the organisation and so it’s vital for business leaders to live and breathe the values that the organisation stands for and prioritise strengthening culture any way they can. Across our offices globally, we live and breathe the same spirit, which has also been codified where possible. This has paid significant dividends for our global operations, with effective teamwork on display every day.

3. Empower through transparency
It’s important for business leaders to create an atmosphere with open and proactive communication where employees feel empowered. To empower employees, managers must trust their team implicitly and make sure that people are given all the information they need to make the right decisions. This means that leaders must ensure maximum transparency where possible within the organisation and not just share the overall mission and vision, but also the more intricate details of business plans.

At AdNovum, we make it a point to share business numbers, priority verticals, strategic growth areas, and 3-5 year plans with all team members, regardless of department and seniority level.
While such complete transparency can be unintuitive to some, it helps employees learn about the business and contribute to growth as if it is their own.

Organisations need to have a shared purpose that reinforces a strong corporate culture of teamwork and collaboration in order to succeed in the digital era.
In addition, empowering professionals in the workplace with business knowledge and skills will allow organisations to hire and retain best IT talent and enable them to deliver greater value in a world where the role of IT is continually changing.

Author: Leonard Cheong is Managing Director of AdNovum Singapore.
Source: HRM Asia