Is Technology the Real Driver for Change?

Some say that change is driven by technology.

I disagree.

When we talk about change it’s something that has the power to evoke human emotions. We are largely creatures of habit that value certainty and fear uncertainty. IT leaders will understand that implementing technology is yet another form of change. A form of change that has the potential to create uncertainty and possibly, chaos.

I believe the implementation of technology should therefore be a natural evolution of business culture. If we are already engaging with the business on challenges and opportunities, then discussions around technology that facilitates our collective aspirations shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Indeed, the term “gaining buy-in” comes from the standpoint that the business is suspicious or unaware of how the aspirations of IT leaders have any congruence with the aspirations of the business. It’s a bit like putting the cart before the horse. We’re implying that IT is already set apart from the business.

Does the IT function therefore need to reconsider its role within the organisation? When it come to change, should IT leaders be playing a central role rather than mere bystanders? We all have the best intentions at heart but finding technology that may provide excellent solutions to significant problems should be a collaborative effort.

In fact, is the whole model of IT operating as a silo function, a distinct department to the rest of the business now an outdated approach? McKinsey talk about innovative operating models being adopted by some companies. Instead of having finance, marketing or IT functions that support the whole business, multi-disciplined teams are created around a specific product or service line. This new integrated working model encourages a different kind of collaboration. In this type of environment, we all become exposed first hand to various challenges and are able to fully appreciate a problem with all its nuances before working with colleagues on a solution.

Perhaps we have a long way to go before we see this model being adopted wholesale in the legal sector. However, IT leaders that truly integrate themselves within the business – those that are visible, talk in commercial terms and understand the challenges on the ground are capable of producing solutions to business issues that make immediate sense. They take little explaining as intuitively the user base understands the problem that is being solved. The solutions speak for themselves.

I’m not suggesting that we can, for now, apply this type of approach for all technology. It’s easier to do this with user-facing technology. The infrastructure technology we use to facilitate resilience, growth and speed still needs IT leaders to exercise their ability to take complex concepts and create compelling imagery around this for their audience.
Talking about outcomes, rather than talking about technology, is a great way to underline what we’re trying to achieve.

As a final thought on this, I do believe that in fact, encouraging the business to adopt technology is now easier than it ever has been. We live in possibly the greatest era of our time. We all understand the value that technology has, and the potential for it to transform everything around us. Hooking into that excitement and wonder is the new and very rewarding dynamic we are now faced with. In fact, the challenge perhaps is to encourage the business to slow down with their desire to adopt technology.

That’s a challenge I can happily live with.

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Nigel Stott

Nigel Stott

Hudgell Solicitors
In 2001 Nigel entered the legal IT industry working for Clarion Solicitors, becoming IT Director in 2007 until leaving the firm in 2015. Since then, Nigel has held various roles both in-house and on the supplier side. His main focus is ensuring law firms achieve value from their technology investments and delivering complex IT initiatives. Nigel is currently Head of IT at Hudgell Solicitors and lives in Leeds, West Yorkshire.