By Torben B. Sørensen
With a nod to the world of soccer, NNIT helps IT managers plan their strategies and gain influence on business development.
At first glance, it looks like a briefcase. But when it unfolds, it is a model of a soccer stadium with billboards and turf markings.
However, NNIT Playmaker is not designed to plan the tactics of this weekend’s amateur soccer team. It is a communications tool to help IT managers advance in the field.
“We got the idea from the expectations barom- eter that NNIT developed this spring. We learned from IT managers that their roles in the businesses are changing. They used to concentrate on deliv- ering IT resources, but they now have to take an active role in the development of the business strategy,” Lars B. Petersen from NNIT explains. Strategy and business development may easily become abstract and flimsy concepts. In order to make the communication more specific and tangible, NNIT developed the tactics board, NNIT Playmaker.
The soccer field on the board is divided into three zones: The defensive, midfield and offen- sive zones.
“In the defensive zone, we find the important day-to-day operations of e.g. the data center, service desk, and security. The typical IT organi- zation places most of its resources here in the defense,” Lars B. Petersen says.
In the midfield, IT and business meet via applica- tions and business processes. Here, it is relevant to discuss architecture and governance, but also specific applications such as ERP portals and BI (Business Intelligence).
“Most IT managers would like to get a strong midfield. And we see that more of them are getting there,” Lars B. Petersen says.
The offensive zone is where the business scores its commercial goals. And this is where the business-oriented IT managers would like to go.
“In the offensive zone, the focus is on the devel- opment of products and the business as a whole. If the IT manager should be able to contribute here, it may be by showing how the business can digitalize its products, for exam- ple,” he says.
As an example, he mentions Apple, which started out as a computer manufacturer. With iTunes, the nature of the company changed and it is now also a large distributor of digital music, videos, and other content.
“We usually ask businesses: What is your iTunes? In a global market, it is particularly important for the competitiveness of the business that it is able to think digitally. This is also the case in the Danish market,” Lars B. Petersen says.
He admits that it is not necessarily easy for an IT manager to place the responsibility for the IT strategy with the rest of the management.
“This typically implies two problems: First of all, the IT manager is often fully occupied with the day-to-day operations, not having much time to think strategically. Secondly, the IT manager may not have the required skills to speak the language of the business,” he thinks.
It is a question of having the best position in the field. Therefore, NNIT invites businesses to attend their tactics meetings on the basis of NNIT Playmaker. The meeting starts with the IT manager placing his IT resources in the field. They are represented by 11 pieces. The IT man- ager is symbolized by the Playmaker piece.
The vast majority of the 11 internal resources will typically be placed in the defensive zone. “But there are also 11 external resources that the playmaker can place anywhere. If he or she wishes to move the internal resources to the midfield or the offense, the external resources can be used to relieve the ones in the defense,” Lars B. Petersen explains.
This is a classical outsourcing strategy, but with an increased focus on moving the IT department further ahead in the business.
As in a soccer match, there are also yellow cards. They symbolize the barriers preventing the IT department from reaching the commer- cial goals. For example, Lars B. Petersen men- tions a slow infrastructure, high complexity of the IT landscape, lack of special skills among the employees, and particularly the fact that much of the resources are tied up in the day-to-day operations. These are all challenges that were expressed by the participants in the NNIT Expectations Barometer in relation to the change of the IT role.
NNIT perceives NNIT Playmaker as a communi- cations tool that makes the IT and business dialog more concretized. And the tactics board can follow the development:
“When a new technology or commercial challenge arises that the IT managers should consider, we may quickly participate in the dialog on the basis of the tactics board. How does the new situation affect your position in the field, and which solutions can we contribute on our part” Lars B. Petersen says.