Networkworld had an article last week on how one company, hearing aid maker, Starkey turned this around. Like many companies, the Starkey IT department had the reputation of being the company roadblock when it came to innovation, so much so that people with new ideas would look for work-arounds.
But that changed when one of the innovators was put in charge of IT a couple of years ago, and suddenly IT started saying Yes a lot. This meant bringing in iPads and developing iOS apps for salespeople who sold the hearing aids, audiologists who fit them and customers who used them.
When you think that it’s been less than two years since the release of the first iPad, that took some very forward thinking on the part of the Starkey executive. He saw a lot of potential for that device that a more traditional IT executive might have missed.
Typically, IT departments move slowly. They wait. They watch. They have the philosophy you don’t buy anything 1.0, and in many cases that’s going to be good for the company, but in today’s fast-paced world of technology sitting back and waiting is no longer an option.
IT needs to be out front as these trends develop. If Starkey had waited for 2 years, it would be behind the curve instead of in front of it, and that’s the big lesson here. If you see an opening that make your company more competitive you have to take it.
For too long, IT has been the big road block and that has to change. Part of being innovative means having vision and taking chances. You have to be able to see as the Starkey executive did, that these tablets were indeed changing everything, but not only that, he had to see that there was a place for them in the enterprise when most people were thinking of them as devices for the consumer.
You have to ask yourself if you have that kind of vision when it comes to the potential for your company to take advantage of new technologies whatever they are. For too long, IT pros sat back and belittled cloud computing. Well, we all know at this point that your company can benefit by using at least some cloud services. But too many saw it as a threat to their sovereignty, rather than a strategic *business* decision.
And that is where the vision comes in. It means combining your technological intelligence with a good sense of what’s going to drive your business to greater success. If you can begin to cultivate that skill, you will go a long way toward building an innovation engine instead of a veto center.