Seugnet van den Berg, MD of IT consulting firm Bizmod says that the IT departments in large corporations have a major challenge ahead of them: complicated and possibly even out-dated systems that have been developed from an inward-looking perspective. “In a time when organisations are increasingly overhauling their business processes to be more customer-centric, their IT systems are largely obsolete.”

In addition to out-of-date IT systems, organisations also have to deal with personnel that have been trained to run these systems. “It’s not only a case of having to update IT systems, it’s also going to be necessary to re-skill or at worst, replace current resources in the IT department,” says van den Berg.

She says that the pressure is increasing in South Africa where small, dynamic start-ups are raising the bar when it comes to customer-centric business strategies and approaches. “The customer is far more informed and aware than ever before, and the realisation from big business is that they need to change.”

Van den Berg says that the challenge to organisations is two-fold: Dealing with out-dated systems while simultaneously building new competencies internally. She says there will be two main steps to achieving this:

1. Addressing the IT system: What do we have and what do we need: “Outlining current and future systems architecture in line with strategy is key. The systems and the people required to maintain, build and support are important
2. Addressing the staffing issue: Out of the current employee pool – what do we have already, which future competencies can be built on internally and which will have to be sourced externally. This needs to be done in line with a plan and timelines. “The key is to always be one step ahead and build competencies for current AND future IT strategies.”

When it comes to staff resourcing, van den Berg says that much of the task will be organisational development with individuals and defining clear career-paths. She says that it is highly unlikely that all competencies will be met internally – in the current situation or after the process has taken place. “It will be a combination of upskilling staff internally and sourcing skills and expertise from outside of the organisation.”

“IT departments that master the task of updating their systems while simultaneously establishing the right resources, will ultimately enable the greater organisation to move into the next decade of operation unhindered by out-dated technology or processes,” concludes van den Berg.

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