The other day I was speaking to a senior leader at a global Fortune 1000 company, who told me about the progress they are making in their “digital department.” At first, I thought he referred to their successes inside their wider organization with regards to their digital transformation – turns out he was referring to a department inside of his organization which bundles all their “digital” efforts.
It is pretty ridiculous to think about having single department being the focal point of all your digital endeavors – as “digital” truly touches pretty much every single function inside of pretty much every company.
To think about a digital department might be as crazy as having a fax machine department 20-30 years ago when fax machines were one of the first harbingers of the digital revolution.
Now, this not only applies to large, established incumbent organizations but also startups. Not that they typically make the mistake of bundling their “digital stuff” into a single department (usually the whole company is built around digital anyway) but many growing startups still manage to create silos and fiefdoms. Which is no better than putting all your fax machine knowhow and capacity into a single group and assuming that this is enough.
Also, the best way to prevent silos from happening is to invest heavily in your culture, people, and structures. This is all stuff which will take time to bear fruits – it is not your typical KPI / OKR stuff. However, it generates outlandish returns in the long run as you avoid the traps bedeviling many of your competitors.