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Why IT Must Break Down Silos as Part of its Digital Transformation Initiative

In the past, IT’s reality was based on silos. The desktop team managed desktops, the mobile team managed and tracked mobile devices (which were mostly corporate owned), and the IT budget sat squarely with IT or the CIO. Then came the smartphone.

The introduction of iPhone and Android devices in the workplace launched the consumerization of IT. First, the ubiquity of these devices meant that IT could not ignore them—even if they were user-owned. But along with creating the bring your own device (BYOD) movement, smartphones also ushered in the creation of new silos as the technology landscape completely changed in a mere decade.

Mobile devices brought all manner of applications beyond Mac and Windows, including iOS and Android, each with their own silo of code, data, and IT staff. Then, as these new devices and apps led to new methods of collaboration and communication, the identity and access needs also changed, as users relied on multiple applications that utilized mobile, desktop, and SaaS-based applications to perform a single task.

How did IT meet this challenge? To keep up with the burgeoning demand for new applications and access, they deployed a dazzling array of point products to solve each problem as it arose, further isolating each silo in a maze of similar but different products. And, in today’s “there’s an app for that” landscape where all these solutions must be available and responsive on every platform, IT and lines of business (LOBs) both spend way too much energy trying to get information across silos rather than working on actual business problems.

These silos put a huge strain on IT and LOBs alike. Employees and customers want a better user experience when interacting with the business, and so IT needs to help solve business and employee issues—not just technology issues—regardless of which silo contains which information or access.

The proliferation of point products and silos has also resulted in a password jungle that the identity and access management team have to negotiate, weaving together home-grown, SaaS, and commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) applications that increasingly have become the norm for most organizations. The result is one big mess for the end user experience, whether client or employee.

There are more changes impacting the IT-LOB relationship. As businesses try to be more fluid and decentralized, the focus shifts to individual workers and small teams instead of isolated departments and business units. This shape-shifting of the enterprise, driven by technology disruptions like cloud, mobility, and IoT are changing both the boundaries of the enterprise as well as how and where work gets accomplished.

This has led to IT budget shifting from central authority to departments, so naturally IT must take a broader view of the business problems the organization is addressing and must transform to meet the bottom line challenges that a digital transformation initiative presents. To achieve digital transformation, IT silos must come down and, in their place, organizations need a single end user team that is focused on customer experience whether that customer is external or internal employees.

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What happens when silos come down and enterprise-wide information flows freely, users can easily access applications with a single sign-on, and devices no longer matter? The user experience is better, employee frustration drops, and customers—both internal and external—get things done faster.

Finally, once silos come down and employees share a single intelligent, digital workspace accessing the same tools and data, businesses can more easily apply AI and machine learning to organization-wide data, enabling new insights and powering new product offerings while leaving the business better prepared to meet the rapidly changing needs of a digital enterprise, ensure client user and device security, and extract the most value from systems of record and systems of engagement.

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