Why IT should lead the charge in GenAI

The case for building a strategic and solid partnership to optimize game-changing technology.

By David O’Brien, director of the automation experience team, Dell Technologies 

David O’Brien, director of the automation experience team, Dell Technologies

To quote Jen Felch, CIO of Dell Technologies: “Your ability to innovate is only as robust as your process.” As organizational leaders ponder the early adoption phase of generative AI (GenAI), we find ourselves at a moment of opportunity for collaboration and the creation of a seamless process across teams to fully utilize its potential. But as an industry, we need to learn from the past to prioritize a strategic partnership between business and IT.

As the director of Dell Technologies’ automation experience team, I’m responsible for leading the company through an ever-changing automation and AI application landscape. Part of my work is to ensure that every technology team is properly trained to harness new technology in a responsible, scalable and ultimately rewarding way. This makes our workforce primed for deployment to work across teams and implement big changes in operations.

From product engineers to HR, everyone should be able to use our tools and technology stacks to get the business outcomes they need. However, when tech development is taken outside of the traditional systems vetting processes, it can compromise teams and leave organizations open to risk. This is a problem IT and organizational leaders need to consider in the dawn of GenAI.

Innovating a robust process for GenAI

From the Dell Innovation Index, 2023

Perhaps you’ve been there (or know someone who has): An internal team is feeling proactive and implements new software that doesn’t align with your tech stack, without your knowledge. While this decision may be a good short-term solution for their project, in the long run introducing unvetted tools can lead to organizational misalignment, data risks and a headache for implementation leads. Welcome to the world of “shadow IT” when anything from software and applications to devices and IT systems are implemented without the IT department’s consent or knowledge.  

According to Dell’s Innovation Index, 45% of decision-makers don’t regard their IT teams as important business partners, and less than a third believe that their innovation decisions are based on solid data—which is a problem in organizations that are heavily reliant on tech. Shadow IT can lead to silos or misplaced tech maintenance responsibilities. For example, if your company’s accounting team uses a new SaaS tool off the shelf that isn’t part of the established picture, it can fall to individual accounting team members to maintain software that can only scale so far and is not part of the main financial application ecosystem. It ends up becoming a dreaded “technical debt.” 

Managing this level of technology consumption is a major effort and requires empowering IT in your organization. If not, you’re relying on “shadow IT” to lead your effort—while a computer science degree shouldn’t be required for employees to use technology, teams should still partner with their IT colleagues to advise on what should and shouldn’t be a part of your tech stack. To avoid this scenario, tech teams need to become strategic enablement partners with leadership at the early stages of business and tech development.  

Turbocharging work as we know it

While artificial intelligence is not new, the launch of OpenAI’s ChatGPT in 2022 has sent the world abuzz trying to understand how GenAI can benefit their organization. The impact will change the workforce as we know it. Every business area is assessing how to take advantage and respond. The potential here is enormous and I have found that GenAI has a lot of potential to positively affect business outcomes. And although it turbocharges AI potential, it’s not the hammer for every nail. Every company will implement the technology according to the best use case, and that takes strong internal partnerships to identify opportunities within each organization.

When we allow generative AI tools to leverage large amounts of propriety and non-propriety data relevant to the tasks desired, and with proper use of prompt engineering, we can achieve new outcomes driven by the turbocharged production of new content, code or communications like chat. These outcomes can augment teams and make those teams more productive in surprising ways. 

By introducing GenAI thoughtfully, IT teams can put the environment in place to take advantage of the potential that exists. This could lead to greater output while reducing time spent on mundane tasks. These tools are not replacements for your team members—because AI can only learn by ingesting the information that we feed it, I like to think of it as more of a co-pilot that makes sure we’re flying the plane with much greater accuracy, rather than a complete autopilot overhaul.  

Align, adapt and accelerate

Almost 6 in 10 global leaders polled worry that their organization won’t be relevant in the next 3-5 years. Their perception is not unfounded. GenAI’s potential is transformative. But without IT’s unique central position to enable the outcomes you need to keep up with competitors, your organization risks becoming irrelevant. The time to act is now.

IT teams need to take an active role in facilitating company-wide tech upgrades and building comprehensive plans for organizational innovation. This is a chance to redefine what IT means in relation to GenAI and align your vision to what the landscape looks like, rather than try and figure it out as you go along. By collaborating and looking at these solutions from all angles, there’s an opportunity to transform your business by working together to ensure success.

 Work with CIOs and CEOs to empower tech leads to build a scalable architecture that takes cross-team dependencies and requirements into account so that the whole company can connect. By pushing to involve your IT team in planning and strategy work, you can provide valuable additional context when evaluating solutions for future business demands. This will demonstrate the value of a truly connected organization with a strong investment in IT, tech solutions and innovation overall.  


Lead photo courtesy of Getty Images