December 1, 2023


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Why you should think more about products today

Why you should think more about products today

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Today, users and customers have high expectations from digital services and products. The focus on customers, user experience and proactive technology development is therefore not only limited to product teams but also to IT departments. Therefore, today’s IT managers have to think more in terms of products.

In essence, every company must transform itself into a technology company. Work in factories, for example, is no longer a competitive advantage, but merely a commodity. Considering the developments surrounding AI, it is clear that the software age requires adaptability and adaptability to an unprecedented extent. The following applies: Software must be compelling on its own or be intelligently linked to hardware in order to deliver digital products with real added value to businesses and consumers. This also affects IT managers.

The role of the Chief Information Officer (CIO) has changed dramatically in light of this. It is no longer enough for IT departments to simply manage technology while others drive digital transformation or innovation. Instead, IT managers must take a new approach to their mission, based on creating digital products that also directly contribute to value creation. If digital transformation determines a company’s success, then digital business models are a key pillar.

Product-based information technology as a competitive advantage

Admittedly, it is still difficult to imagine product-based IT in many companies. In the past, the IT department was often viewed as simply a cost center and managed by the CFO. However, most companies have realized that proactive, product-oriented IT can be a competitive advantage. The introduction of the IT Manager role has been a step in the right direction, but there is still a lot of work to be done to realize its full potential.

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As a first step, it is important for IT managers to change their thinking from a service provider mindset to a product-oriented mindset. Modern IT not only manages, but also designs. To increase this self-awareness and discuss the challenges and opportunities associated with digital transformation, IT managers should seek exchanges with like-minded people. The involvement of external experts can also open new horizons and support the development of a product-oriented mindset.

CIOs, CTOs, and CPOs: Breaking outdated patterns

There are often entrenched power structures within companies. Information technology has the right to learn about and control all new technological developments. It is therefore extremely important to coordinate and clearly define tasks and responsibilities between the IT Director, Chief Technology Officer (CTO), Chief Product Officer (CPO) and their teams in order to ensure effective collaboration. Because power struggles only hinder progress.

Old ways of thinking about IT lead to a department’s success being judged primarily on the basis of cost effectiveness. However, developing new products definitely requires significant investments and expanding the team to include digital and product experts. For IT managers, this means advocating for the right resources within the executive team. The dilemma IT departments face in all of this: They still have to ensure that background processes are running smoothly. At the same time, creating new structures and working methods is a balancing act.

IT managers decide how sustainable companies will be in the future

The goal is to be able to use the right knowledge to develop the product – serving the success of the entire company. By the way: “digitization” and “digital change” are not the same thing. Companies need to use their technology to develop new products and services rather than simply create digital versions of existing processes.

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Demonstrating this distinction clearly helps raise a company’s awareness of the need for IT to play a more active role than before. Because rapidly changing customer needs and fierce competition also demand answers from IT managers and their teams. This is the only way companies can meet ever-changing requirements and competitive pressures and successfully move into the future.

Fabian J. Fisher is the founder and CEO of Etribes Group. (Image: Atrebus)

About the author: Fabian J. Fisher is the founder and CEO of ETRIPS CONNECT LIMITED, a digital consulting firm focused on data-driven business, customer engagement, and product innovation. Fisher also serves as an advisor to family offices and investment funds. As the founder of Picea Capital, an evergreen venture capital holding company, he invests in startups globally. (Saint Germain)

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