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How IT Influences Culture, and What it Means for HR


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When we think of our WorkSpace Connect brand, it seems as though many of our thoughts deal with ways in which the IT world is coming together with Facilities/Real Estate. Which makes total sense, right? The facility is where you deploy the technology. If IT is planning to deploy huddle room video, they need to know what the enterprise defines as a huddle room, why it needs video in these spaces, and what, in fact, the plan is for creating these spaces—especially if they’re not in a new-build situation. Up to now, in some enterprises, it’s been all too common for Facilities/Real Estate to go ahead and make these plans, and then present them to IT/AV as a fait accompli. The theory of WorkSpace Connect is that it’s better for this process to be collaborative, and that more and more enterprise decision-makers are realizing this need for cooperation.
But the need for HR and IT to work together is just as immediate. In a report published last year, Gartner predicts that, “by 2021, CIOs will be as responsible for culture change as chief HR officers (CHROs),” according to a press release from the market research house.
“A lot of CIOs have realized that culture can be an accelerator of digital transformation and that they have the means to reinforce a desired culture through their technology choices,” Gartner research VP Elise Olding states in the press release. “A partnership with the CHRO is the perfect way to align technology selections and design processes to shape the desired work behaviors.”
Two-thirds of enterprises have either begun or completed culture change initiatives aimed at digital transformation, according to Gartner, which further found that half of such initiatives fail, with culture as the main barrier to success. “The logical conclusion is that CIOs should start with culture change when they embark on digital transformation, not wait to address it later,” Gartner research VP Christie Struckman is quoted as saying in the press release.
The obvious challenge is to avoid recriminations. We’ve seen that the relationship between Facilities and IT/AV can get a little prickly when there’s a perception that one side is being kept out of the loop or that its opinions don’t really matter. In the drive for an enterprise culture that can help rather than hinder digital transformation, it’s important that the CIO not be seen as usurping the CHRO’s responsibility or authority. As Gartner’s Olding says, it has to be a partnership.
A ZDNet article on the Gartner report quotes an IT leader who seems to have the right perspective on how to do this. "Ultimately, technology is an enabler for people to succeed—winning hearts and minds is the key, not assuming the responsibility of the HR chief,” Brad Dowden, then interim CIO and director at Intercor Transformations, told ZDNet.
“All CIOs need to become a bit more like sales people and have the capability to sell visions to people, including the relationship between technology implementation and cultural change,” he concluded.
The right corporate culture and employee engagement are the ultimate goal for all three departments—HR, IT/AV, and Facilities/Real Estate. Culture and engagement are what will propel employees to success in whatever it is that the enterprise exists to do. IT, HR, and Facilities/Real Estate can best enable success by working together.