Five Focus Areas to Transform Your IT Organization

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You have probably heard and read it a thousand times: In any kind of transformation, your people are one of the most critical success factors. They can be your most important catalyst for digital transformation, or the greatest obstacle, and certainly digital transformation will fail without applying the human aspect is often pushed to the side or left out completely. You’d think that the words might be heeded, but particularly in IT transformations where the focus lies so much in getting the technology in place and working, the people aspects are often pushed to the side or left out completely. Studies show though, captured in an article by a colleague, Ian Jagger, that moving to a hybrid cloud environment frequently fails if your staff is not aware of the changes and does not have the right skill set.

From HPE’s Edge-to-Cloud Adoption Framework, which includes “people” as one of the capability domains, there are five main sub-domains considered to ensure that your workforce supports the transformation and is ready to take on the challenge.

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Strategy and planning

This is the basis for all. The people strategy needs to be aligned with business strategy and reflect the business goals to be achieved within the transformation project. It needs to be clear about what role IT plays in the value chain: Is it a support function, will it be a service provider to lines of business or is it even a driver for innovation and business generation? Once this is laid out, determine how the people working in and with IT need to support this. Understand what behaviors, mindset and skills are needed to operate the IT organization in a way that it can achieve its goals. 

Talent enablement

The starting point is to define what skills and competencies are needed to support the target operating model. Build job and skills profiles or update the existing ones to reflect the new world. Start with a fresh mind and design the organization so that it is aligned with goals and how the IT team should be operated in the context of running the business.

The next step is to decide how you to assign existing staff to their new roles. In many situations they will have to change from their current roles and learn new skills. Assess the skills available in the organization today against those profiles to determine the gaps. To close those gaps, there are a variety of possibilities:

  • Upskill existing people

  • Uncover new talents within the organization and move them into new roles, while training them

  • Hire talents from the outside world

  • If none of this is as straight forward, it’s possible to work with partners to close the gaps, which might be needed regardless, in order to augment the team, as it “skills up.”

It is important to carefully consider how to improve IT staff. Sending them on formal extensive training sessions will take ages, cost a fortune and may not meet identified needs. Consider starting with a skills gap analysis which identifies exactly what people need to learn and what the most effective methodologies are for your specific target groups.

Consider learning activities beyond formal training. Think about coaching and mentoring, shadowing, expert sessions, and knowledge sharing forums. Technical training content often fails to keep up the pace with technological progress so that formal training – while it still has its value – is far too slow. More collaborative learning methods, if implemented in the right way, will help to bridge those shortfalls.

Attract and retain talent

Once the right talent is on board make sure to keep them. A talent program is not just something to do once – the requirement is to constantly understand what type of skills are needed in the organization, (today and tomorrow) and develop strategies to identify and retain the right talents. Consider identifying where the up-coming talents in the organization are that have the potential to develop and can take over critical roles in the future.

Additionally, develop succession plans for top talent, not only in management positions, but to also make sure there is a succession plan to fill the gaps and minimize the risk of being understaffed.

IT experts are hard to find, and organizations must make sure they offer working conditions that are attractive for them – and for those being hired from the market. This goes far beyond offering good remuneration – these talents are looking for challenging tasks in an interesting environment, personal development opportunities, career option, and something meaningful to do.


The best intentions behind moving to a new technology will not materialize if this is kept secret. Changing to a hybrid cloud environment means an adjustment to many people, their roles, daily tasks, how they operate and interact. They need to be aware of what is changing, understand how they are personally impacted, what the phases of the program are and what they are expected to do.

This requires a well thought out communication program that provides the right level of information to the right people at the right time. Top staff also need to have the opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback.

Organizational change management

Migrating to a hybrid cloud environment does not only mean change on an individual level, but it also affects teams and entire organizations. Work methodologies are changing dramatically: Success is now achieved by teamwork and working across organizational silos. People must be aware of how other teams operate and what their targets are. The role IT plays becomes even more strategic and moves up in the value chain.

This all requires a new mindset and culture. It requires adaptability and flexibility in thinking and acting, a “fail-fast-learn-fast” attitude and understanding that only through collaboration the complex challenges of today’s world can be met.

This also reflects how managers lead their organizations and measure success. In the era of agile collaboration and teamwork, long term individual goals often lose their meaning. In turn, performance management needs to become more responsive with more frequent goal setting to augment long term goals.

Finally, choose the right partner

Adopting a hybrid cloud environment requires more than getting technology and new IT processes in place. From the beginning ensure that organizational setup will support goals and that people develop the skills and behaviors needed.

Workforce transformation should follow a holistic and structured approach that is part of the bigger framework and tied to business goals. At HPE, we’ve had the privilege to help our clients transform the capabilities of their people capabilities over the last few years, while building a model that positions them for success.

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This article is one in a series that address the eight capability domains of the HPE Edge-to-Cloud Adoption Framework. The other seven articles can be found here:

The Crucial Role of Application Management in a Cloud Operating Model
Insight From Data Everywhere Driving Hybrid Cloud Strategy
Does Your Company Have a Complete Innovation Framework?
DevOps and Digital Transformation: Now and Future
An Operating Model to Support Engagement at the Digital Edge
The Role of Security Transformation
3 Essential Elements of Strategy & Governance to Accelerate a Multi-Cloud Journey


About Anke Hirning

anke hirning 31 08 20 114 pp article
Anke Hirning leads the worldwide Management of Change team at HPE. This team assists companies to achieve their desired business results by proactively guiding their people through digital transformations. As an expert in the areas of adult education, organizational development and Management of Change consulting, Anke develops programs for customers in all industries to support their workforces on their transformation journey. Anke is based in Germany and holds a doctorate degree in Physics.

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