Digital and IT – better off together?

Should digital and IT teams be merged?  Companies are trying to simplify their organisations as they seek greater agility, and digital is an unwelcome addition to an already crowded organisational matrix.  Digital is perceived to be anchored in technology, so business leaders sometimes try to merge digital into IT. This rarely works, as digital and IT teams often have very different skill and cultures. Stereotypically, digital teams are focused on end-customers and trial-and-error, whilst IT teams are focused on internal customers and zero errors. Mixing the two cultures can be explosive, and not in a good way.

But beneath the stereotypical picture lies a more complex reality. The two functions are slowly but surely converging. Digital teams are increasingly asked to look beyond the ‘front-end’ to digitise end-to-end business processes, in turn requiring them to understand both the legacy systems and the organisation that supports them. IT teams are all-too-aware that their future lies in building digital capabilities, as the shift to public cloud and software-as-a-service erodes their traditional role. Agile organisation structures bring designers and developers together in seamless teams. DevOps removes the boundaries between development and production.

In time then, can we expect to see digital and IT merge into a common function? Perhaps a more interesting question is whether the (currently preferred) matrix organisation structure will prevail in future? I think it’s more likely that different organisational forms will emerge that make the digital vs. IT question irrelevant.

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