, a maker of business-productivity software, is leaning on automation and easy-to-use computer coding tools to give its workers more control over the applications they use in areas like finance, sales and marketing—without going through information-technology departments.
“Our bots are seeing excellent career growth,”
Atlassian’s chief information officer, said on Wednesday at a virtual networking event hosted by The Wall Street Journal.
Ms. Rao said line-of-business employees are better placed than IT leaders and managers to identify apps they need to do their jobs—especially in an organization with several thousand workers. As IT leaders, she said, “we don’t know everything that’s out there in the market.”
Giving workers outside IT the ability to source, develop and deploy their own digital tools can prevent costly bottlenecks in getting key business apps up and running, she added.
The approach is well-suited to the age of remote work, she said, with many companies still adjusting to the way Covid-19 restrictions and safety protocols have reshaped workplaces. By pushing out collaboration and other online capabilities across their companies, CIOs and other corporate IT leaders are decentralizing services—whether they mean to or not, Ms. Rao said.
As more technology decisions shift away from IT, she said, CIOs are taking on the role of product managers, keeping track of the apps being adopted across the business, while ensuring big-picture issues like governance, licensing and regulatory compliance.
Other companies, both inside and outside the technology market, are following a similar route in handing over tech decisions to business-side teams—a move IT leaders have long resisted to avoid a jumble of unmanaged and incompatible apps, researchers and industry analysts say.
Nearly 60% of workers outside IT describe their company’s CIO as a “strategic adviser” who makes business-software recommendations, rather than top-down decisions, according to a survey last year of 985 IT leaders and 250 line-of-business workers by market research firm International Data Group. Some 86% said groups or functions outside IT now have their own tech budgets, IDG said.
“We’re seeing a burst of employee-led app development,” said
global chief innovation officer at Ernst & Young LLP. He said the strategy encourages innovation across a corporation, while giving its IT leaders and tech providers a “greater line of sight into what their customers, users or employees need.”
During Covid lockdowns, Atlassian’s human-resources department—with guidance from IT—built a global office compensation-calculator app that enabled employees to estimate changes in their wages, stock options and other benefits if they relocated to offices in different parts of the world. “The day we released it, half the company had tried it,” Ms. Rao said.
All told, automation and self-help apps created by HR teams saved more than 18,000 hours of workers’ productivity time, Atlassian says. Similarly, the company says its finance team last year rolled out nearly 20 bots that saved 16,400 in productivity hours, including automating tasks across accounting and procurement.
Whatever else changes for CIOs, troubleshooting may never be far behind. Ms. Rao’s remarks came as Atlassian races to restore cloud-based software applications to roughly 400 companies, after a service outage last week caused by a routine maintenance glitch.
As of Wednesday, she said, services were back online for just under half of the companies hit by the outage, which may take up to two weeks to fully repair.
Write to Angus Loten at [email protected]
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