Is the traditional IT department model past its use-by date?

by Ricoh Australia 02 Aug 2019
Empowering digital workplaces with a smarter IT model

Transforming business units with digital self-sufficiency

Tech permeates every business function in a digital workplace. Business units without the tools and skills to react and adapt risk being slowed down by a reliance on traditional IT departments.

The digital workplace isn’t a far off concept — it’s here now. But the priority for many IT departments pared back over the last few decades is, by necessity, enterprise-wide initiatives. If Marketing, Operations or HR have an IT need outside of the company remit, they join the queue for the continuous triaging of IT investment and resources. With the right planning and delivery, building digital self-sufficiency across teams can:

  • address IT bottlenecks
  • get processes and technologies embedded faster
  • help you spend smarter for solid ROI on your IT budget.

But for a decentralised IT model to work, it needs support across your organisation.

Balancing risk with the pace of change

The pace of change can be slow if changing processes, implementing new software and updating infrastructure is all in the hands of a centralised IT team.

As Jim Berne, General Manager of Information Technology at Ricoh describes, this model creates a risk that IT capability and ownership is:

bottled up in a single team, often comprising of just a few individuals with some specialised skill sets in key disciplines

At the June 2019 ADAPT Ricoh CIO roundtable, most organisations in attendance recognised the need to transform their environment for maximum operational efficiency. And ADAPT research shows the top two CIO business priorities are technology investments for better business outcomes (84%) and improving operational effectiveness (82%).

If it’s important to Australian businesses to make the most of their technology spend — and the traditional IT department model isn’t a fit — embedding digital skills and tools within business units might be the answer.

Empowering innovation with digital self-sufficiency

Equipping business units with the technical and analytical skills to make changes to platforms, systems and processes builds adaptable teams open to opportunity and innovation.

Providing a working environment that supports and enables innovation addresses more top priorities identified by ADAPT’s survey; attracting and retaining talent (77%) and providing a heightened employee experience (73%).

Digital Champion Simon Waller, speaking at Digital Edge, explains:

Research shows that people who feel that they aren’t given the technology to do their job properly are three times more likely to leave the organisation… We can either have an enabling environment, or one that’s kind of restrictive.

IT leadership still needs to plan and steer the big picture, staying accountable for good technical practices, investment decisions and cross-unit needs. Their focus shifts from problem-solving to strategic advice that creates value and advances transformation.

But this shift needs clear boundaries and definitions to avoid reducing operational effectiveness and creating the conditions for shadow IT.

Will self-sufficiency lead to shadow IT?

In the 2019 Workplace Innovation Index study, 84% of Australian organisations agreed they sometimes or rarely involve staff when introducing new technology. It’s no surprise staff may struggle to take ownership of new systems and look for their own ways to get the job done.

Simon Waller explains:

Shadow IT is when people do the things that they haven’t got permission to do. That’s the subversive behaviour of frustrated people…They’re doing it because they just want to be effective in their job.


The risk of shadow IT can be managed by:

  • creating a technology roadmap as part of an overarching IT strategy
  • governance, risk and compliance remaining with the IT department
  • a willingness to skill up business unit staff
  • giving business units the freedom and skills to pursue new projects.

Giving staff the tools and skills to drive their own projects creates an engaged workforce ready to embed digital capability and work towards business goals. And in a competitive environment, the employee experience you create could give you an edge.

Ricoh and the business of change

At Ricoh, business and systems analysts are part of business units — like Finance and People and Purpose (HR) — engaging directly with teams on everything from cloud to SaaS adoption to resources for digital content.

Like to know more about how we’ve embedded IT capability?

Talk to Ricoh about the business of change. Call 13 RICOH.