Five Ways to Prepare IT to Drive Productivity, article in Forbes

Summarizing five ways to drive IT productivity, Peter High references a recent CEB study that suggests how CIOs can get the most out of their teams.

by Peter High, published on


I recently had a chance to speak with Shvetank Shah, who is the Executive Director, IT Practice at CEB , and he made me aware of a recent study that his team conducted, surveying 23,339 employees at organizations globally regarding how to “Prepare IT to Drive Productivity in the New Work Environment.”  (That is the title of a CEB CIO Executive Board analysis that was just released.)  I have included the five conclusions in italics below with my own thoughts in regular text:

1. Refocus on Team, Not Individual, Productivity—As opportunities for process automation run low, IT will refocus on enabling teams, not just individuals, to be effective at collaboration and knowledge work.

This is very much in line with where my CIO contacts are focusing a lot of attention these days.  As the workforce ages, and key staff retire in greater numbers, and as the market for talented individuals is heating up, effective knowledge management is crucial to ensure that as people leave the corporation, knowledge remains.  Moreover, as collaboration across product and service areas, across geographies, and with external partners (vendors or customers) increase, having processes and technologies to facilitate and capture the output from that collaboration will be essential.

2.  Shift Support from Tool Usage to Employees Using the Tools—IT and other corporate functions will redefine support, moving away from teaching how to use a tool and instead helping employees build the skills they need to effectively collaborate, apply judgment, and use data for decision making.

In other words, employees need to be taught “skills” in collaboration, analysis, and the like, and to a greater extent centralized functions like IT will play a significant role in these efforts. These will be fundamentally new responsibilities for many IT departments, and will require training and new hiring in some cases in order to meet this imperative.

The remaining three ways are:

3.  Separate Flexible Interfaces from Foundational Data

4.  Prioritize the IT–Employee Relationship

5.  Adopt “Test and Learn” IT Strategy and Budgets

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