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Written By

Brian Hauch and Michael Lomonaco

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January 24, 2018

As an Organization Matures, IT's Role Shifts

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Written By

Brian Hauch and Michael Lomonaco

In today’s evolving business landscape, it seems that every organization is a tech company. As technology continues to be a deeply integrated part of our lives, everyone is exploring ways to incorporate it into product and processes to increase value. As a result, the responsibility for tech no longer lives solely with the IT department. We recently spoke with Michael Lomonaco, OST Director of Marketing and Communications, and Brian Hauch, OST Design Director, about the changing IT landscape and what to expect in the future as organizational technology needs continue to evolve.

Q. As OST moves into its third decade in business, how have you seen the IT department at an organization evolve?

A. After two decades serving the IT community, we have seen incredible evolution within organizations. In the beginning, the IT departments were tasked with supporting the business through infrastructure, maintaining systems and supporting users. It was seldom that IT was viewed as a unique differentiator.

Today, in mature and high-performing organizations, we are experiencing IT and the lines of business coming together to use technology as a differentiator. IT is challenged with making experiences come together to create amazing digital interactions. No longer is the only expectation to keep the business running, rather to lead and spur innovation that will create meaningful and transformative results in partnership with business units such as product development, digital, and marketing to name a few. Technology needs to be the enabler for the business, the customer, and end user.

At OST, we meet you where you are. We have deep seeded expertise in helping our customers run, support and decide where technology should reside. We also help strategize and implement ways to use technology to remain relevant and serve internal and external customers in meaningful ways. We are helping organizations integrate marketing, product development, corporate strategy and IT to create new value, to look beyond what is expected to deliver outcomes which align across the organizational goals .

Q. What does this mean for organizations moving forward?

A. For organizations that are just asking themselves this question, it means taking a hard look at the value they provide to end users, customers, and employees, and identifying  gaps. What could be done differently or better? Organizationally, start by asking if digital is its own area. Is it part of IT? Across the business? In the most mature of organizations, the focus is in IT and across the business. There is an aspect of knowing who you are and what you want to achieve, because you can’t boil the ocean in a day. The desire is to be forward thinking, trying new things, iterating, and constantly learning to stay ahead of the competition, but IT also can’t forget about running and supporting. So, there is a balancing act. Establish clarity around your vision, how you provide value, and don’t lose sight of that.

Q. How has OST changed to reflect these shifts in the needs of your customers?

A. We have constantly evolved and changed over the last twenty years as the needs and demands of our customers have shifted along with which areas of the business consume and leverage technology. The needs of the organization have changed and evolved immensely, and OST continues to be a national leader. Two years ago, we acquired Visualhero, a human centered design firm, to more effectively align  to the shifts we were seeing. Recently, we have been excited to announce a rebrand of OST and the launch of a new brand, OpenDigital. We spent twelve months researching the needs and wants of organizations in relation to technology and digital capabilities. We found that the needs of IT and the needs of the business are closer and more related than ever, but they can often be addressed differently. In the middle of all that is an approach which puts people and end users first. We have launched OpenDigital, the digital consultancy of OST, as a response to those needs. OpenDigital brings a human first lens to technology. All technology and tools end up in the hands of people, so let’s design and plan with that in mind. Ask how you can create experiences and behaviors that support your overall strategy.

Q. We all have our own understanding of the word “digital” based on our own unique experiences and perceptions. How do you see ‘digital’ being defined, or redefined, through the work you all do?

A. We believe digital is about data and analytics and how those come together to create an experience. We especially see this with connected products. Digital experiences are embedded inside physical products. What does this mean for the consumer and the business? How does it create value? When we look at digital, we believe there is both a physical and an emotional side, and they both need to come together to create a differentiated value for the product and the user. Without both, we see the product or experience fail.  Digital is a dynamic word and we see it as an opportunity to open new possibilities.

Q. With so much technology at our fingertips, where should an organization start in order to make the biggest impact for meaningful innovation?

A. Go back to who you are as a company. Where are you going? What are you trying to solve? Sometimes the solution is not a specific technology. Maybe the answer is a different strategy. Or taking a different lens as you look at your industry and your customers. For example,  organizations come to us and say they need a mobile application to more effectively connect. Maybe they do, but we encourage everyone to take a step back and explore the problem a bit deeper. There may be other possibilities outside of an application that will solve the problem, or a different way to approach it that wouldn’t have been considered before. Once you have the problem outlined, use a human first lens to establish the needs and wants of the users. Look at the data and insights gained. It’s not always easy to take a step back and evaluate the problem when you are ready to run to a resolution, but we have found it always results in a more informed and effective solution.

If you are asking yourself where to begin, we can help. From strategy to implementation, we have walked this journey with numerous clients. Let’s explore the tough questions. Let’s change how the world connects. Together.

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About the Author

Brian Hauch
Brian balances the practical demands of business with the investigative nature of design. He guides design through the complexities of user needs, market conditions, and business objectives.
Brian has deep expertise in contract furnishing and manufacturing industries. Leading design research, design strategy, and experience design.
Brian earned a Masters in Design Methods from the Institute of Design, served on the board of the Design Thinking Initiative at GVSU and lectured on using narrative for innovation. As a Creative Director, his work is in the AIGA Design Archives at the Denver Art Museum.

Michael Lomonaco
Michael Lomonaco joined OST in 2011. He served as the Marketing Manager for three years before being promoted to Director of Marketing and Communications in 2014.
Michael honed his marketing and communications skills while attending Michigan State University. His career has included positions in local, state and federal political and policy work, public relations, advertising, and marketing in the public and private sectors. In his role at OST he is responsible for leading OST’s brand strategy, marketing programs, advertising, market insights, and public relations. He has a passion for creating wild outcomes and experiences through his abilities to connect and strategize across the organization, and with customers and partners.
Michael also has a deep connection to service and can be found working with any number of the boards of directors he serves – Make-A-Wish Michigan, John Ball Zoo, and Friends of Grand Rapids Parks. In 2013, 2015, 2016, and 2017 Michael was selected as one of Grand Rapids’ “Top 40 Under Forty” business and community leaders.