15 Minutes with: Utsav Ratti on Smashing the silos between IT and business teams

15 Minutes with: Utsav Ratti on Smashing the silos...

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15 Minutes with: Utsav Ratti on Smashing the silos between IT and business teams

by Matt Gall
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15 Minutes with: Utsav Ratti on Smashing the silos between IT and business teams

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The disconnect between departments in large enterprises is nothing new. Has the pandemic made this divide between IT and business teams worse or has it presented an opportunity to break it down? We talk to Citihub’s practice lead for Enterprise Transformation, Utsav Ratti, about the path forward to smash organizational silos and align teams around customer-focused outcomes.

 

Do you believe there’s still an issue with IT and business teams working in separate silos? If so, how bad is the problem?

Positive change has begun with the adoption of Agile and DevOps methodologies. However, to unleash the full benefits of digital transformation, large enterprises must enable significant shifts in responsibilities and capabilities across management, app teams, infrastructure, security and other control functions. Realizing the full potential of agile methods and cloud-native technologies in a large enterprise necessitates a holistic approach that encompasses people and processes in addition to technology.

What are the issues that come from this? How does the business suffer?

Organizational silos impair the efficiencies with which technology functions can enable the business. The resulting limitations aren’t new: time to market is measured in months or years instead of days or weeks. Attention is directed toward maintaining the artificial boundaries of internal silos rather than an end-to-end focus on customer outcomes. Organizational friction and rigid internal contracts with no incentives for efficiency become a by-product. Such organizations become ripe targets for disruption and when more adaptable competitors with superior products emerge, customers tend to vote with their wallets.

What’s holding back collaboration across the business? Why does this continue to be a problem?

We would suggest that collaboration itself is not held back. In fact, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the use of collaboration technologies to replace the lack of informal face-to-face “hallway / watercooler” dialogue and social interactions. The problem we are discussing here is one of collaborative alignment around shared outcomes – are businesses and teams designed around these with a laser-like focus on the customer? In cases where the answer is “no” or “not as well as they could/should be,” digital transformations require a return to the drawing board to redefine the blueprint of how a business should operate in order to deliver the best possible outcomes for customers. Too often, technology leaders hamstring themselves by focusing on the wrong customer – the business leader – and sell them on methodologies to deliver against transformation objectives. These methodologies don’t deliver in a vacuum and business leaders inevitably grow frustrated when the expected results don’t materialize. This erodes trust and further entrenches traditional operating models. To operate at the speed of digital has less to do with methodologies and tools and more to do with an end-to-end realignment of business functions in support of customer-oriented outcomes.

How has COVID-19 affected this too? How has the pandemic, and remote working, impacted collaboration between teams?

For knowledge workers, collaboration and productivity have improved over the course of the pandemic, but don’t just take our word for it. According to a study published by Microsoft, the pandemic has had both positive and negative impacts. While communications have increased through the use of collaboration and chat tools, one third of the 6000 responders also cited negative impacts to their wellbeing as a result of a lack of separation between work and personal lives. Slack published its own report and its survey of 9000 knowledge workers in six countries across the globe cited remote work as a general net positive but with nuances that need to be incorporated to ensure that employees remain engaged.

What can be done to finally bring the issue of silos to an end? What advice can you offer businesses?

It’s not enough to say, “Waterfall is to slow. Let’s be Agile. Send everyone to training and bring in some coaches.” You’ve got to really look at the organization, understand where it came from, where it is and where it’s headed to recognize the broad shifts in responsibilities across organizational functions that need to take place. To accelerate their understanding of what is possible, large enterprises should peel back the layers of a single value chain starting with the voice of the customer all the way through every function and activity involved in responding to the target outcome. Choose the single biggest obstacle standing in the way of that outcome and design the approach – people, process, and technology – to address it. Have a consistent metric by which to measure the outcome and then implement the changes.


At Citihub, we help our clients to design and implement modern operating models via a structured and repeatable framework that assesses the alignment of their current model with business goals and, where appropriate, presents a realistic transformation path toward more modern operating structures. To learn more, visit our Enterprise Transformation page  or send Utsav an email.

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