Welcome to our website. Open forum to discuss global thought leadership, Tao of IT Leadership .

The magic “I” of CIO sparks many imaginations: Chief information officer, chief infrastructure officer , Chief Integration Officer, chief International officer, Chief Inspiration Officer, Chief Innovation Officer, Chief Influence Office etc. The future of CIO is entrepreneur driven, situation oriented, value-added , she or he will take many paradoxical roles: both as business strategist and technology visionary, talent master and effective communicator, savvy business enabler and relentless cost cutter

The future of CIO is best practicing the Tao of IT leadership: leading IT to enlighten the customers; enable business success via influence.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Is Big Data a Digital Management Transformation

Digital Management has to shoot the tangle to see from the different angles.

Modern Management has to continue to reinvent itself; from mechanistic thinking to holistic thinking; from gut driven decision making to fact-based decision intelligence; from silo focus to systematic planning; from static strategy to agile planning. Digital is the age of Big Data, it brings both critical leadership challenge as well as unprecedented business opportunity, how to ride above the learning curve and how to leapfrog your digital transformation.  

Big Data deployment requires “out-of-box” thinking: There are so many definitions and interpretations as to what we call Big Data. Businesses can definitely exploit existing BI talent organizations currently hold by adapting to the new realities that Big Data brings to the table. It also requires new technology to handle the data volumes in a meaningful and efficient way. Lots of technology out there and what works for one organization may not work well for another. It all 'depends'! It also requires to think out of the box when embarking along the 'Big Data' journey. This is the most difficult aspect to consider. How can an organization benefit from this and what should they be considering to maximize ROI? Thinking out of the box is the first and toughest part,

Big Data deployment needs to take people centric approach. Data is only as good as you can do with it. Some people don't even understand in which Use-Cases they can take help of Big Data. often businesses don't know the fact that their business data set can be used to help them, but in a probabilistic way. So they are not so keen to take Big Data for their Business Analysis. On the one hand, hard technical skills and a new breed of statistical analysis may be needed in a big data world, both of which are trainable for those with the aptitude. On the other hand, there's a requirement that is much more subtle, understood by those realizing that there is one thing that hasn't changed in the evolution to big data, and that is that data, any data, is only as good as what you can do with it, no matter it's volume, source, variety, rate of growth, or the nature of the new technology required to process it all. There's a wealth of existing experience to tap into in this respect, talent with a track record of producing business results from diverse data sources of varying quality, providing an excellent foundation to build your big data competencies from. So people are the big focus of Big Data, either customers or employees, and talent people are the Big Data masters as well.

Big Data highlights the forward-looking, not just backward view. If traditional BI is like rear mirror, then Big Data is like front window, zoom in the foresight to run business in an intelligent way. Business Intelligence or Data Analytics has always been driven by two streams of thought; one, business driven, thinking you need to grasp first organization and process needs, what type of information, where is the data, is it the right one (all Governance issues) on one side. And on the other side technological firms advocating brute force is able to solve almost any situation. Perhaps one day, the bulk of the conversation will eventually extend beyond the technology, to why leveraging big data - specifically the ever increasing volumes of externally generated data of all types - truly matters in the context of building sustainable, competitive business growth strategies in increasingly saturated markets.

Big Data can improve management maturity from efficiency to effectiveness to agility, empower managers with the right information to make the right decision at the right time, engage talent and enable business to shoot the tangle to see from the different angle, and build ongoing analytics capability to compete for the future.

Customer Experience Management: How Shall You Handle Complaints Positively?

 There is no such thing as “good customer” (without complaint) or “bad customer” (with complaint), and there is significant difference between one time customer and life-time customer.

Being customer centric  is at the top business agenda of every forward-thinking organization, however, walking the talking is not always easy, how do you handle customers’ complaints, how shall you transform the customers with complaint into the loyal customers? How can you improve your products and services to optimize customers’ overall experience and life-time value?   

Complaints should always be viewed as an opportunity to make a positive difference - managing a complaint well helps to encourage loyalty and advocates for your business. Customers who raises complaints are those who wants to use the products or services despite something went wrong. If properly addressed these customers remains loyal for life time. So, you should always treat customers with complaint as loyal customer who gives your company the valuable feedback to continue improving products and service. Customers complain because they want the company to improve. Loyal customers become an integral part of an organization, and complains should be taken as a step towards improvement.

Customers with complaint can always be the loyal customers if their feedback have been handles properly. This includes an engaging interaction that is personalized to the customer, a high level of product knowledge and a true solution to their need (not just a list of today's promotions). The goal  is to build long-term customers, not just an additional sale today, good service has previously been given over and over again, and then something goes wrong, your customer will often be as anxious as you to get it put right.It is a very subtle shared responsibility. How do you handle complaints makes significant differences. Often times these complaints if handled promptly and properly become a catalyst for additional sales revenue or service improvement. Once you resolve the customers concern and have made them happy they will stick with you, and they are more receptive to spending even more with you because they like the way you responded to their concern. And if these complaints are dealt with promptly and the solution communicated timely. These complainants can then become your best advocates.

Social interaction with customers. The latest digital technologies such as social and mobile provide more effective channels to interact with customers, and handling customers’ complaints properly is not nice to have, but must have because customers now have the “power” to broadcast their complaint and damage the company’s reputation with only a few clicks. In addition, proactively communicate with customers, and getting feedback from purchasers, while it has its own challenges, it is an easier step than understanding why someone came in and didn't buy. But adding online chatter across channels can add a much needed dimension to the customer journey analysis--it's just a matter of having the right tools to bring meaning to all the noise, and capture signals even before someone complains.  Customer engagement is crucial to deliver personalized experience. Ensuring you are delivering a consistent experience won't leave the customer guessing what level of experience they may receive on his/her next visit. Although finding ways to "WOW" a customer can excite them for that one visit, truly engaging with her/him will make that customer feel important and allow you to personalize the experience to her/him.

There is no such thing as “good customer” (without complaint) or “bad customer” (with complaint), and there is significant difference between one time customer and life-time customer, and the goal for effective customer experience management is to improve the personalized customer experience, and transform more customers to the loyal and long time customers, appreciate their feedback, reward their loyalty and build intimate customer relationship via seamless interaction and engagement.  

Holistic Thinking vs. Mechanistic Thinking

Mechanical thinking focuses on “what,” and holistic thinking dig into “why.”

At industrial age, mechanical mind is a “mainstream” thinking process to solve the problems via reductionism, it may work well because the business environment does not change so dramatically, and the organization or the whole world were running in silo. However, digital means flow, hyper-connectivity and interdependence, the holistic thinking which requires interdisciplinary knowledge and systematic approach is on demand to deal with today’s over-complex business dynamic. What is the perceived difference between holistic and mechanistic thinking?  What are the characteristics of situations/problems in which we should adopt holistic thinking ( vs. mechanistic thinking)? When is the trade-off more beneficial in adopting holistic thinking versus mechanistic thinking?

Mechanical thinking focuses on “what,” and holistic thinking dig into “why.” Some are simply trying to solve the problem of "what works." Others may have more philosophical questions that get at the "why" of the issue. There are times when a mechanistic perception is quite enough and other times when it is helpful to look at the assumptions and values underlying the perception.‘Mechanistic' means trotting out some example / visualisation / analytic tool. 'Holistic' suggests a genuine sense of exploration and innovation. Without this one just has a more sophisticated mechanism. But an approach that is holistic in dealing with a sub-problem may reasonably be seen as mechanistic - if it achieves a straight-forwardness in its products - by a 'superior' holistic integrating process.  In terms of 'viewpoint' one does often need to integrate different stereotyped ('mechanistic') view points; it is the integration and search for new viewpoints that is holistic.

It must be a matter of perception, but it cannot only be that. It is a matter of influencing the mechanisms through which you actively engage what it is you are perceiving. Both holistic and mechanistic thinking are at least partially learned behaviors and rely on heuristics. the more systematic the approach to thinking about an issue, the more resources it requires and the more difficult it can become to communicate the products of evaluation to others. Holistic thinking also comes with a higher cognitive price tag. If there is little or no reward for the approach--recognition from others, ability to influence the decision making of others, etc.--then there is little motivation to engage a holistic approach to issue at hand. In that case, one would have to rely on intrinsic motivation.

As human beings we can engage in any idea using paraconsistent logic. Difference vs. similarity; Difference vs Complementarity; Difference vs.Compatibility; Difference vs Paradox. Perception is situation/context based. If the situation is deterministic, mechanistic (reductionism) thinking is good enough as nothing will go wrong outside the determinism. We can drive 'mechanically' thinking about a problem in normal traffic. However, if the situation is very natural and fluid, with lot of inter-dependencies, it calls for holistic or systems thinking. Do not think the concepts are mutually exclusive at all. It should be part of a holistic process to acknowledge and address mechanistic components of a system as such, but this requires subject knowledge and not too many have the interdisciplinary knowledge to link various mechanistic systems into a holistic whole. What often happens is that some tend to express the boundaries of their knowledge in terms of their preference for a form of holistic thinking that exclude an appropriate level of determinism.

Zoom in vs. Zoom out view: A mechanistic perspective is a zoom in view and works well in an already deployed/thought out system. A holistic perspective is a zoom out view and works well when deploying/conceiving /rethinking a system. they cannot be used for a common objective. You need a more holistic approach when you suspect (based on experience with similar problems) that there is no solution that will not cause you to reconsider the problem statement soon after. A holistic view can either be used to refine or adjust the problem statement so that it can be approached reductively, or (more challenging) one may need to take a more thoroughly holistic approach.

Applying different thinking to the different situation properly: Mechanistic perspective if used to conceive a system will limit the scope and dependencies of a system while a day to day running of system if observed through a holistic system will slow the feedback mechanism and dilute the failure factors....using a mechanistic perspective for day to day running of a system and for giving feedback to its holistic architecture should work good. A mechanical thinker would ask how can vehicle move fast and jams minimized and may come up with flyovers and ring roads, while a holistic thinker may ask why would people want to commute and come up with a work from home system deployment. Both taking drastically different approaches to solve the same problem. It is about discussing the difference in approaching some issue (idea, problem, space, phenomena, experience, vision.. etc) in a systemic fashion or in a systematic fashion.
1+1 = 2: Mechanistic: (Eventually) Single Perspective. (the so called perceptions and different viewpoints eventually converge)
1+1 = ???: Holistic: Multiple perspectives, multiple disciplines, multiple minds; the best way to seek "holism."

Holistic think zoom out, but can also dig deeper to discover the big WHY -  it is not possible to identify any relevant difference between an excellent scientist and an excellent poet. Only mediocre scientist and mediocre poets are easily set apart.... ignorance of depth and lack of reflection is not isolated to any particular human activity.... and the opposite is also true. Holistic thinking is the type of thinking practice that appreciates how underlying complexity generates the features and phenomena of interest to practitioners (those whose endeavours directly bring about change in the real world) so that they can work with them accordingly. It is the practice that has the necessary abilities (context-relevant requisite variety) to engage with the extant flow of change in the world and shape it and influence its 'trajectory' in the moment - then you are really doing something useful. To do this means not only are you open to the possibilities of change, but also can sense significant indicators, reason about them and have the appropriate 'complexity worthiness' to act 'effectively' in the world. Then you could probably claim you are a digital master with 'holistic' in your ways-of-thinking and problems solving.   

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Talent Development vs. Talent Creating

The raw talent is precious, and the well crafted talent is a good combination of willpower + brainpower + knowledge power.
Connotatively and denotatively, talent is innate, a “raw” ability. It's a natural affinity for something. It can't be completely trained. Talent is not equal to experience, just like wisdom is not always proportional to one's age. What you can and should do is to provide the opportunities (talent development) for people to hone their talents and let them shine. Where "Creating Talent" is akin to taking raw material and building what you need out of it, the well crafted talent is a good combination of willpower + brainpower + knowledge power.

Each organisation must be able to articulate clearly what constitutes “talent.” There is different talent requirement to fit in different positions. You can train for knowledge, but you can't teach people how to think. This requires organizations to be able to list the desired competencies.
*Before you can manage talent you need to hire talent. 

* Before you can hire talent you need to find talent. 

* Before you can find talent you need to know what talent looks like. 

* Before you can know what talent looks like you need to know how to measure talent. 

* Before you can know how to measure talent you need to know how to identify talent. 

* Before you can identify talent you need to define talent. 

* Before you can define talent you need to ask, "How do you define talent?" 

Developing or creating talent is bringing up the hidden potential of a candidate. Training is just giving better understanding on adopting the process, learning, handling the process. Talent is how much you can execute things unique, fast, accurate with more out-of-box thinking. The questions being asked to clarify talent management include:
-What is the thing referred to as talent, capability, skill, experience, preference, bias or others? how to differentiate them.
-What is innate, what is learned? Some can be trained, some can not. You can train for knowledge, but not on how people think.
-what intervention make a difference? Training, teaching? coaching? role modelling? Self directing? etc
-What do those interventions make a difference to?

Talent Development is important. The core of this brainstorming is to be more philosophy than science. Even the raw talent is innate, it takes the immense amount of time and hard work that most "naturally talented" people have committed to developing their talents. Creating the right environment to grow a natural affinity into a "talent, believe in "building talent" where it would otherwise be underutilized or dormant. There are many factors to consider when hiring and managing talent but first you need to define talent unless "hiring talent" means "hiring employees." Everyone wants to hire for and manage talent but if you can't answer the five questions below with specificity, you can't hire or manage talent effectively.
1). How do you define talent?
2). How do you measure talent?
3). How do you know a candidate’s talent?
4). How do you know what talent is required for each job?
5). How do you match a candidate’s talent to the talent demanded by the job?

“Talent Creating” is strategic for unleashing talent potential and business growth.  When the company requires skills that are in very high demand, set up processes to "build" the type of people you need. Instead of recruiting for people who have experience, you would define core traits that indicate the ability to quickly learn the skills required and pair that with a Full Immersion training regiment. This is "Creating Talent." You can provide opportunities for someone to learn and hone a skill. Ultimately, it is up to the individual - talented or not - to decide whether to learn and to what extent he/she decides to learn and practice. "Treat them same by treating them differently,", modern talent management shall advocate the culture of "competing for uniqueness, " by encouraging people to sharpen their raw talents, in order to put the right person to the right position at the right timing.

Creating and developing talent are distinct actions for talent management. “Talent creating” is a strategic choice to build alternative talent pipeline; and “Developing Talent” should be an ongoing practices, just like knowledge is not equal to wisdom, and talent is not equal to experience. Knowledge workers tend to measure their opportunity to continuously discover their talent and develop their skills as one of key metrics of a higher performer.

Is Analytics tool expected to single-handedly improve decision making in an organisation?

Analytics oriented decision follows triple As: "Adaptation, Agility and Accountability."

More and more organizations are exploring data analytics to gain customer insight or business foresight, and data-driven, fact-based decision making is surely the trend to run a smart business. However, is analytics tool expected to single-handedly improve decision making in an organization? And what are the principles, practices and processes to do analytics for better decision making?

Advocate fact-based decision-making: The decision to implement BI or analytics is just a start to better decision making. The push for fact based business management must come from the top and permeate through the organization at all levels. Business Intelligence will not single handedly improve decision making in an organization. if the organization does not believe in the analytics capability and usefulness of Business Intelligence, it will not improve decision making. There are so many analytics implementations fail miserably due to lack of adoption. These are not cheap implementations and the lack of success of the effort was squarely shouldered on usAer adoption.The old adage "you can lead a horse to water but you can't make them drink" is very appropriate here. Just implementing an analytics tool is not going to result in improved decision making for an organization. The technology should been seen as an enabler and should form part of an analytics strategy, but not be its whole. Improved decision making will only come when insights from the analytics system are directly matched to improved decisions and better outcomes. Ensuring these insights are used in the process of decision making should be one of the keys to success for any analytics strategy and that will often require significant organizational change, education and evangelism by someone in the senior team.

Craft Analytics strategy: Large organizations especially need a comprehensive analytics Implementation Strategy. Culture would be part of that strategy. Culture addresses the willingness to change at the user/analyst level as well as executive level support. The entire value chain of a Finance/IT management matrix needs to be aligned. Small analytics successes help create momentum in an organization. Senior leadership no longer needs to make funding decisions only based on guts. There is some actual value added success to base future decisions on. There's often a disconnect between the way analytics solutions are marketed and the way they need to be implemented. The marketing promotes the idea that analytics is a magic bullet: that system-wide improvements slide into place as soon as you install the system. That raises unrealistic expectations in the minds of corporate sponsors, which can lead to crushing disappointment if those gains don't immediately materialize. It's easier to sell a slick technological product than a rigorous, culture-change process.

Follow AAA' principles: The business must be educated to make use of analytics (its a process!) following triple A principles: Adaptation for upcoming business trends, Agility to implement new thoughts and Accountability to establish trust with business, analytics is always driven by business. It's incumbent upon those who are implementing analytics solutions to guide organizations into the change from the executive levels down to the operational ones. That means thoroughly discussing the questions that are being asked, getting buy-in to the value of the information being provided, and developing plans to act specifically on that information. Your analytics application must be reliable (information availaanalyticslity / performance) and aligned with the business needs.

Focus DEEPLY on the culture when moving toward an insight led/experiment oriented organization. The alternative you see, and get most often is decision-based evidence making. The next time you're on a fact-finding mission, ask yourself whether you are truly open to new ideas - or if you are only pursuing those that support your current understanding of the facts? It's hard to stop and see it, but if you can, you will dramatically open up your analytics ability to see the potential for insight to change what you are doing and for tools to be really informative in the process. You need to ensure everyone understands the cultural shift that needs to take place in order to make analytics successful. Anything less is a waste of money.While culture is clearly important, think of culture as derivative, as the result of the cumulative actions taken in an organization that can be pulled together to form a coherent narrative or story about the organization. But you need the actions and quick win first. It’s like a label or the title to a completed painting – you don’t quite know what to call it until you’re finished.

Manage Analytics as organic growth; starting off as one cell, multiplying and branching, slowly at first, but gaining momentum as critical mass is achieved. This organic process needs to be recognized as part of the plan and it needs to be nurtured and cultivated. Nurtured, as in identifying the most fruitful areas and fertile ground to start looking for quick wins. Cultivated, as in periodically evaluated and pruned as it develops, so that it doesn’t grow willy-nilly but develops in alignment with strategy. Simply put, you cannot push down a cultural change from the top down. That's a mandate and it seldom works,starting small really counts. Finding parts of the organization that use analytics (not data) well. In that way they are:
(1) Creating engagement around insight, not reporting the facts
(2) Developing high levels of self-service and self sufficiency (not IT intervention)
(3) Enabling scenario and forecasting to promote decision alternatives
(4) Focusing on making the complex radically simpler for the purposes of pattern detection (or pattern breakage).

Decision making is both art and science, enterprise scope analytics implementation is an evolutionary journey, think big (strategically) but start small, focus on building ongoing analytics capability, and shape an fact-based decision making culture, but do not forget common sense,  intuition always has its role in effective decision making. Analytics is just the means to the end, and people with effective tools need to become such decision making masters.

Monday, December 15, 2014

CIO’s Role in Crafting and Executing Digital Strategy

IT plays pivotal role in executing digital strategy.

Digital is an era of collaboration where information is in the hand (smartphone, tablet or computer ) of the user. The digital strategy is essential for companies in the digital era and requires a new way of viewing the organization via the lenses of collaboration, instead of silos.Digital is blurring physical and virtual world; professional life and personal life; local and global; and it is blurring "hard" & "soft" aspects of businesses.

Digital strategy weaves all key business success factors into the digital symphony. What is interesting with the digital strategy is that the soft aspects (culture, leadership and people management) is as important as the harder aspect such as technology and marketing tools. Digital organizations are often characterized by a continuous transformation correlated to the changed customer behavior and technical evolution.

IT Strategy is the most significant component of corporate digital strategy.  It is how to leverage the resources and assets of the IT departments to create the optimal business value - which in the next step, will generate revenue growth, brand or increased market shares. The IT Strategy is the responsibility of the CIO and works as a foundation for driving business success. The two types of strategies can be integrated but it is important to understand that responsibility, objectives and needed resources to be successful. The digital strategy is not bound by one functional area (such as IT), but rather included the whole organization with a mission to increase customer experience and engagement - and hence increased market shares and revenue. The IT strategy, on the other hand, focus more on how the IT department can increase business value (and in some cases productivity).

IT plays pivotal role in executing digital strategy. Senior executive teams shall take co-responsibility of crafting and executing corporate digital strategy. However, CIO is in the right position to oversight business processes/capability, fit for “conducting” digital strategy because information is the lifeblood of digital businesses. Digital organizations are moving from IT-business alignment to IT-Business integration and engagement. The CIO leads on the provision of information, and that various functions across the enterprise shall work more collaboratively than ever, decide what they need and then applying it strategically and operationally when it's available. This is  different from the more traditional enterprise areas of back-office business process-related IT applications, where the CIO is responsible for supply and business functions are responsible for determining needs and for using the applications in more silo way. IT plays pivotal role in executing digital strategy, the CIO and his/her people need to collaborate very closely with other functional CxOs and their people to ensure optimum outcomes.

The relationship between CXO peers have the new focus on leveraging big data and information, and applying outside-in customer-centric view.  In practice, even in the simplest organisations, Industrial 'Speed' is not homogenous across the enterprise (differences between 'front office' & 'back office'; enterprises with multiples businesses and associated business models). So many organizations will have to 'mix & match' at least two different Industrial 'Speeds' with appropriate IT Governance styles, accommodating the result in different steps of digital Strategy cycles. The digital executive collaboration focuses on providing, analyzing and interpreting complex data patterns rather than processing large volumes of simpler business-process related transactions, and work seamlessly to manage data-information-knowledge-insight life cycle, to break down silos and ensure business as a whole more optimal than the sum of piece. But in all such relationships, the CIO needs to have a very good grasp of the overall business, its strategy, marketplace, business model and competitive distinctiveness to ensure that the IT-enabled business solutions supplied to the enterprise deliver maximum value at acceptable cost with optimum services/solutions.

Digital strategy making and execution is a collective effort of IT and other business departments to fit business purposes, leverage digital speed and delight customer. Digitalization is driving unpredictability demanding a more rapid deployment that quickly can adapt to the changes and adjust to the new market conditions, it requires IT to run as business, becomes a value center and game changer for business’s digital transformation.  

Is Discovery more from the Eyes or from the Mind?

Discovery is perception and awareness of the unique in the field of the ordinary.

Discovery is the choice to look at something differently and by that choice never look at anything the same. Discovery is realizing something or having the experience of something that therefore has not been known to you or known only as a concept, but now is alive to you.

You cannot envision a discovery as it is still not known to you. Discovery is a process of revealing unknown facts. Every discovery must be supported by sound rational and logical certainty that can be accepted without any doubt whatsoever. You have "discovered" a new way to be observant of something that you dismissed as being not worthy of your focus before. The decision changes how you perceive all information and situations.

Discovery is perception and awareness of the unique in the field of the ordinary. Discovery has nothing to do with whether it results in a commercial success or not. That is jump from being an inventor to innovator. Two different skill sets, two different visions, two different thinking styles, but surely they have correlations, the more discovery you envision, the better chance and possibility you are the innovators as well.

Discovery is 'the journey of life' as each day we discover something previously unknown to us. The word "Discovery" refer to "Knowledge"; because, the more you read and learn, the more you will realize that there are more you don’t know yet.

Discovery is the result of serendipity. Discovery means exactly what it means - uncovering what is hidden (from you, out of your five senses, from your company, from your industries in your market sector, finally from everyone).

Discovery starts from an open mind and fresh eyes, it is a new way to see and perceive the things, and it is a life experience and adventure.

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