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How Nokia Transformed IT as a Trusted Business Partner

“At the end of the day, technology is all about human beings, and tools are only as great as the ways in which we use them.”

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For any CIO, IT is an integral part of business success. To gather expert perspective on IT and digital transformation, we sat down with Ursula Soritsch-Renier, Nokia CIO and keynote speaker for Dreamforce 2019’s Customer Success Keynote: Your Path to Succeeding with Salesforce. We asked how CIOs can lead transformation, and why human-first IT is so critical in today’s digital world.

Q. Why is it important for IT to be a trusted business partner?

IT has never been just about technology. It’s an end-to-end business perspective of people, processes, and technology. IT professionals are business managers, just like everyone else. IT isn’t tangential to the business — it is the business. As a crucial enabler for process improvement and innovation, it’s the true foundation for digitalization.

To establish our own IT department as a business leader, we focused on three major items:

  1. Accountability ownership in IT. I can never promise that there will not be problems. Stuff happens! Networks go down, routers blow up — something will always happen here or there. The difference is in how we react. We’re focusing on owning problems and assuring people that our team is there to follow through, help with support, and solve the issue quickly.
  2. Business centricity. IT is not there for its own sake — it’s inherently business-centric, so we’re leaning into that. IT exists to make the company successful, not individuals. Company priorities are our top priorities at all times, and we’re always coming at things from the company’s perspective. We don’t believe in technology for the sake of technology.
  3. End-user emphasis. Over the last 18 months, we put a real focus on end-users. By prioritizing their needs and experiences, we significantly increased satisfaction and established ourselves as a partner in business success.

Q. How can other companies, large or small, effectively engage employees?

Engagement is absolutely important. Before I came on board, Nokia had fairly high turnover in the CIO position. I knew I had to come in and change the game through employee engagement. Now, all employees are able to collaborate through collaborative tools like Webex and Office365. IT used to be this mysterious black box, but by opening it up, we’re helping people understand the full scope of IT and the possibilities it offers. Only then do they become truly engaged with tools and technology. Throughout all of this, it’s important to encourage employees to speak up, opening opportunities for improvement. Technology and people working together — it’s a beautiful thing.

Q. How can CIOs lead digitalization across an organization?

Digitalization is something everyone has to participate in. It can’t be centralized in a company as large as Nokia because that would stifle innovation and slow everything down. IT is key in digitizing, and the CIO must lead the IT team.

You need to have an understanding of what data lives where through connected data and data integration. Data is huge! Not every business group can set up their own databases. Security is another big priority. You have to ensure that everyone is following the same consistent rules in order to have true security.

Toolsets must be streamlined and aligned effectively — we won’t benefit from using 27 disconnected tools across different teams and functions. In order to scale and support each other, we have to be working from the same playbook. IT can manage all this and act as a trigger event.

For example, we can establish an AI innovation lab to nurture innovation and research. It’s all about bringing together technology and the business, creating a “factory” environment that allows everyone else to pick up speed on digitalization.

Q. How is Nokia undergoing IT transformation?

We’ve put a focus on human perspective. At the end of the day, technology is all about human beings, and tools are only as great as the ways in which we use them. We knew we needed that human perspective to truly transform. I’ve also led a cultural transformation toward IT through town halls, open dialogue, and two-way communication. It’s all about aligning expectations.

First, we took an outside-in look to determine what’s realistic in this transformation. We found that communication about technology can sometimes be more important than the technology itself. In our larger offices, we created dedicated IT corners where people could go at any working hour for help. At the service desk, people can go there and get immediate support or help with no waiting.

We also rolled out training and education to give employees tips and tricks to work faster and more efficient with the tools they were already using. Often these small things help people significantly. We aimed to interact with employees and meet them at the point where they have a need.

In all of this transformation, we’re moving from a too-outsourced state toward investing in more agile, in-house competence. Companies are now starting to realize they can outsource too much, and internal knowledge deteriorates. Building back up that internal expertise was key in transforming. We’ve ignited the spark, and people are excited about IT now. We’re ready to make it happen.

To learn more from Ursula, catch her in person at the Customer Success Keynote: Your Path to Succeeding with Salesforce at Dreamforce 2019 or via livestream on Salesforce Live.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.