A big focus area for our CIO research recently has been around the concept of Fusion Teams. Gartner describes Fusion teams as “cross-functional teams that use data and technology to achieve business outcomes” Fusions teams may be led by technical professionals, but that is not guaranteed. In many cases, Fusion teams drive technology decisions and choices both outside of IT and that might differ from IT recommendations. And they are becoming more common.
If I was a tech vendor or services company, I’d be immersing myself in our Fusion team research (just search for it) to help understand changing dynamics within the companies you serve.
Here are some Fusion team facts (with the numbers coming from our research samples):
- 84% of organizations have built at least 1 Fusion team
- IT roles are in most Fusion teams
- 40% of Fusion teams have a leader that reports outside of IT
Those are the basics, but then it gets interesting and you’ll see parallels with our buying research. The best performing Fusion teams are diverse-functionally, ethnically, gender-wise, etc.). They deliver and complete efforts faster and are more likely to deliver value from them.
And now, the kicker. 70% of Fusion teams use different technologies than what IT suggests or recommends. There are pros and cons to this. Choosing their own tools can lead to faster delivery, but it can also raise risks or cause rework. The best Fusion teams exercise sound Digital Judgment – a set of beliefs, mindsets and behaviors that enables them to effectively balance their team outcomes with enterprise outcomes. Without sound digital judgment, bad things can happen. Gartner has analyzed situations where using IT tools can provide value to projects to help teams consider their choices.
For the Fusion team concept to truly be successful, it seems like a number of things need to happen.
First, organizations need to develop digital judgment skills and awareness across the organization. This will also help in situations where users, even independent of Fusion teams, explore technology via free trials and freemium solutions. Digital judgment would make that more effective.
Second, the fusion teams concept should be applied to major buying decisions. Frankly, we already see cross-functional buying teams, with IT involved but not always leading. But the results, like only 27% high quality deals, show that digital judgment, diversity, discipline, and team cohesion is lacking.
Third, vendors needs to figure out where and how they play in a world of Fusion teams. There is other Gartner research that discusses IT and business architecture to support Fusion teams, I’d suggest clients explore that to think about where they fit–this will impact both who you target and how decisions will be made.
It will be interesting to see how things evolve in this area. Fusion teams reinforce the idea that the discussion of sell to business or sell to IT is the wrong discussion. The right discussion is how do we engage effectively with a cross functional team and help them assess our stuff using sound digital judgment (or teach them what they should worry about from a digital judgment perspective).
I’ll be looking at some of these concepts in future buying studies to continue to learn more.