Restructuring IT for the digital age

As Novant Health ramps up its digital health agenda, its IT organization might look a little foreign to the average CIO. Rather than the traditional structure that aligns IT practitioners to specific functional areas like human resources or supply chain, technologists like programmers and systems architects are a shared resource pool that floats between projects based on need.

Perhaps the biggest change is team makeup: Practicing clinicians, including pharmacists and physicians, are embedded with programmers and infrastructure specialists to serve as product owners that drive future offerings and services. “It would behoove most technology leaders to start thinking about leading on digital products by organizing like a product team,” says Angela Yochem, executive vice president and chief digital and technology officer for the healthcare provider made up of 15 hospitals and more than 600 physician practices.[ Learn from your peers: Check out our State of the CIO 2019 report on the challenges and concerns of CIOs today. | Find out the 7 skills of successful digital leaders and the secrets of highly innovative CIOs. | Get weekly insights by signing up for our CIO Leader newsletter. ]

Yochem’s definition of a modern IT structure includes team members who are representative of customers or the people engaging customers. For example, a consumer banking IT team should include a teller or bank manager, she contends, and a retail enterprise should enlist a store manager as part of an IT delivery team. “Being a business leader means understanding the customer, and you can’t do that if all you’re doing is wearing an IT hat,” she explains. “You have to create a team that includes some unconventional players.”

As CIOs take the reins on digital transformation, many, like Yochem, are remodeling their IT organizations to reflect a greater emphasis on customer centricity and to increase an agile response to shifting business needs. The pressure on IT leaders to evolve their organizations for the era of digital business comes straight from the top: According to the 2019 State of the CIO survey, CEO’s top priority for CIOs is to lead business and digital transformation initiatives, cited by 38 percent of respondents. In addition, 88 percent of respondents to the survey believe CIOs are more involved with leading digital transformation efforts than any of their business counterparts.

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