Since computers first came on the scene over sixty years ago, we’ve been assuming that companies need an “IT department.” While the label attached to this organizational unit has regularly changed, it seems to be widely accepted that, as with a delineated marketing or finance function, companies need some sort of organizational unit dedicated to managing IT and overseeing all the associated staff. While this may have been appropriate when the role of IT was limited to automating routine tasks and processes, might having a dedicated IT unit today actually hold a company back from achieving its digital transformation ambitions?
Over the decades, the role of technology has fundamentally changed, but our conceptualization of the IT unit has remained largely unchallenged. MIT CISR research[foot]Various discussions and sixty-eight interviews with executives carried out between February 2018 and June 2019.[/foot] reveals that many executives hold outdated views on what it takes to succeed with technology, and this is constraining their digital ambitions; their thinking does not reflect the realities of what is needed to leverage the digital opportunity.