You may not have fond memories of summer school, but Ivanti is trying to change that with our new strategic webinar series, IT Summer School with Kevin J Smith. In this three-part, non-salesy series, Kevin dives into strategic subjects like the unification of IT, the future of IT, and how automation and AI will impact your career.

In our first installment of the series, Kevin discusses the unification of IT. He talks about what unifying IT means, why it’s important, and how it will help your IT departments save time, money, and resources, while giving IT professionals more time to become strategic players in the business.

During the webinar, we got a lot of interesting questions. If you’ve found yourself wondering about the unification of IT, check out these frequently asked questions and Kevin’s responses in the webinar.

Q: One hurtle our team has in becoming more strategic is our perception across the company. What advice do you have to help rebrand our team within the company?

KJS: This is a very common problem, and this is not easy. This is part of the cultural change that needs to happen in small steps. Start small. One suggestion is to create small, cross-functional teams within your IT organization. Form these teams and then reach out to key colleagues in the business and just start the dialogue.

“Hey, we’re looking at improving the user experience. We’re reviewing our pipeline of systems and solutions that we’re delivering to the business over the next five years and we want to get your input on that. What are your thoughts?”

Starting a conversation like that starts to shift the perception and sets IT teams up as ambassadors to the business. People will be impressed that these IT teams are looking ahead versus just trying to fix a problem.

Stop waiting for people to come to us and kick down the door in IT. Let’s outreach instead to key stakeholders in the business and start a dialogue. This will help you rebrand your team within the business.

Q: My team is very siloed; our jobs are very separate. I like the idea of working in small cross-functional teams, but I worry that the shift might be difficult for the team. Do you have any recommendations to help with that transition?

KJS: In teams that have started to build these cross-functional teams, we’ve seen that this is actually very natural. People naturally like to work cross-functionally. If anything, it’s unnatural to stay limited to those silos.

There are 100 great reasons why we’ve had the siloed model for the last 25 years in IT, but people know they are naturally attracted to that creative team work. As they work in these smaller teams, their visibility improves, they have a better understanding of what’s happening in the business, and they feel like they have an opportunity to more effectively impact the business.

This has been a dream of IT to build a strategy that better aligns IT with the business. Assign a small, cross-functional team to an initiative or project. It could be something like “We’re going to implement a new ERP system in 2019.” Don’t give that problem to the apps team or the development team. Involve security in that, involve the service desk. As you get three or four different perspectives working on that initiative, you’re going to get a completely different and better result.

Q: I want my team to be more creative, but one of our roadblocks to creativity is a lack of team diversity. How can we build a more diverse team?

KJS: You know, we’re not hiring as many people as we would like in IT. Budgets are always under pressure and we have to be very selective in hiring. We clearly need more diversity in IT in every regard, from skills, to more women in IT, to different backgrounds. As you gain more diversity on your team, you’ll create this creative energy that can start to change everything that we do.

A great place to start is when you are backfilling positions. Instead of hiring the exact same skill profile, let’s broaden that skill mix a little bit. You don’t need to find an identical match to the previous position, instead look a little more broadly. Look for unique experiences and skills. You can even look for skills beyond traditional IT.  Look for people with a different background, education, and experience. Let’s look for more diversity in our hires and backfills.

Q: How do we increase automation in our teams without making our jobs obsolete?

KJS: When implementing automation, you want to focus on automating tasks that require a lot of manual work or repetition. As you automate that type of work, you’ll have more time to focus on some of the other more strategic initiatives. Automation should replace people, it should reassign people to different work. With your extra time, you can figure out how to do things faster, how to cleanse your systems, you can have time to brainstorm, and you can have time to innovate.

Automation simply allows us to create more bandwidth. It really creates the best of both worlds. We get the automation done, but we also get people thinking about the innovation side, making the user experience better, getting closer to the customer, talking to our stakeholders in the business, evaluating our processes, and more.

As you think about the unification of IT in your organization, consider Ivanti’s enterprise licensing agreement. It is designed to help you unify IT by combining all five of Ivanti’s product lines.

If you’re interested in learning more about IT strategy, make sure to tune into the rest of the IT Summer School Series – The Exciting (and Surprising) Future of IT and The Role of AI and Automation in the Rebirth of IT.