Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Three Aspects Why C-Level Business Executives Should Learn more about IT “Magic”?

To have other business executives learn more about IT is actually part of organization's Change Management agenda.

IT becomes so pervasive in today’s enterprise, however, for most of the business executives, IT is just like a costly “magic” they know little about, that's why they don't trust it so much. Should CIOs keep on fighting C-level's "magic" with rational means or should the other C-level execs be trained to understand technology to defeat the unhappy mixture of ignorance and faith? Indeed, C-level execs are getting more involved in the technology aspect of their business, As some joked: IT is just too critical to leave it to CIO alone.

1. Technology Literacy Helps Craft Good Business Strategy

When asking super busy C-level executives learn more about IT, they will definitely ask: "What’s in me?" How can IT help them to do their job better, how can their "hard-learned" IT knowledge enrich their leadership? As a matter of fact, all industrial leaders across vertical sectors declare they are in information businesses, and high performing companies do think their IT as competitive differentiator when senior teams really understand the business growth potential from IT, they may adjust the attitude to learn more about it.

  • Technological literacy enables leadership team to unleash business potential catalyzed via the latest technology:  Senior business executives may use Enterprise Architecture as a common communication tool, the executive teams spend significant portion of time on crafting business strategy, at mature organizations, IT strategy is integral component of business strategy, thus, all executives need to have strategic level of understanding upon how technology could become key driver to catalyze business changes. The executive team's collective attitude & aptitude to learn more about IT will directly impact the quality & practicality of business strategy. 
  • Strategic goal alignment, business risk management and use of best practice IT tools are three solutions all executives need to master. If IT strategic goals are derived from the business strategic planning process then all key players are more likely to be truly engaged, aligned and accountable. If the risks are well understood prior to execution of major projects, organizations are less likely to make investments without identifying how these risks will be mitigated  Further, a good strategy needs to embrace creativity, context, cascade, zoom in the future in which technology might be the innovation disruptor for organizations and business ecosystem, manage risk with intelligence every risk has opportunities, and every opportunity has risks. Those are all good reasons why business should learn more about IT.
  • All Executive will stay on the same page for strategic conversation: The importance of the CIO having an active seat at the "C-table" (& board interaction as appropriate) is to build trust, transparent relationship with peers, CIOs need to speak business language, while business executives need to gain more knowledge about IT, the whole senior executive team has much better opportunities to stay on the same page, and each executive can also share their own vertical expertise & T-shape knowledge, all of them should look at business strategy and solutions from outside-in customer lens, as well as progressively look for opportunities in optimizing key business processes.      

2. Information (Data) & Technology is the most Valuable Asset besides Human Asset in Modern Businesses

Using the word 'magic' to describe what IT does is not so constructive to IT transparency and progress, and the industry. Magic sounds like there were little effort, it just happened. It provides no additional understanding - IT just lost the opportunity to toot its horn the "right way"... and actually undermine how much intelligence/experience/skill was required to solve the issue.

  • Information is the lifeblood of modern business: the perceived status and value of the CIO is directly linked to the perception of the VALUE that is being managed. The 'International Accounting Standards Board' (IAS) has recently recognized that the traditional form of asset management is not recognizing the value of bespoke intangible assets under the CIO management (IT software, internal systems, operational processes, the maintenance of GRC standards, staff training, etc). New accounting rules have recently been written and agreed, across all western nations that identify, recognize and value the intangibles noted above. Thus, business leaders have to understand more about their IT asset. 
  • Engage business executives to inquire and push transparency button: Transparency is the key: nowadays, many IT organizations are still running in the dark with puzzles about value, cost, risks, constraints, other business executives may not feel they are part of it. Part of this “illiteracy” of management, is exactly what drives their own frustrations with IT but an “unwillingness” to acknowledge it. IT should actually love the transparency; it makes IT stronger and better at what it does and be perceived as change/innovation agent. Business executives' learning appetite to push transparency button will keep the other C-Levels apprised of what the Information assets, Information Requirements and associated tooling are for the company and what new trends in Information (like big data) are going to impact the company how 
  • Justify all Business/IT Investment: By understanding and learning with each other, the business is held to the same standard to prove the benefit of their IT investment as the IT department is held for justifying their cost, the problem goes away. When the CIO takes the time to explain every component of IT costs and justify each and then the business is forced to do the same, things change. There's no rocket science involved here, mostly politics. What possible objection could there be to balancing the cost measurement with the benefits realization? 

3. Be Learning Champion  & Change Agent to Cultivate Culture of Innovation

The spirit of organizations comes from the top, if the executive teams have a better passion for learning more about IT, perhaps it will shape the culture of innovation more effortlessly, and have all other project/change buyer-in happen more smoothly. And the leadership team set the right tone for changes.  

  • To have other business executives learn more about IT is actually part of organization's Change Management agenda, more than 70% of change management project fail, perhaps it's related to management team's collective attitude upon learning and change. Understand further on why executives are reluctant to learn more about IT: Is it due to the emotional attachment about the old way to do things, dislike IT as disrupter? Or even personally they are technology fans, just lack of understanding about  what their IT function is doing due to communication gaps or management blind spots. Or executives themselves don't like change even they are the people who are advocating changes all the time. 
  • Creative Leaning Formulas: Trust is implicit in true leadership qualities. The CXOs who have reached that level should have this quality. However, we know this not to be true in all cases. Technology is a cornerstone of businesses of any size. thus, creative learning can enforce trust relation within executive team.
           (Transparency + Projects completed on-time) = Trust

           (Collaboration with leaders/departments + Toot horn * successful projects) = Buy-in
           (Topics + RightwaytoInform*HelptoLook Intelligent)=C-Level Success (what’s in it            for me)

           Topics = (Buzz Topics = Systems Scalable + Data Mining + Reliable + secure))

           HelptoLook Intelligent=(Right Topics + Buzz phrases + examples

  • IT is a trendsetter for next practices cross-organization: if "magic" thinking of IT is one of the root causes to divide business & IT, then, Imagination is the word why business executives should learn more about IT, historically, technology indeed stimulates mankind's imagination, to make impossible possible. Thus, by promoting IT knowledge/insight, IT can really become a trendsetter, rather than an order taker, as many IT practices such as Agile can be scalable to the enterprise scope while business executives would appreciate the opportunities to re-imagine growth opportunities via learning more about IT. First, understand IT, then, support IT in order to improve overall organizational maturity, with a good attitude to cultivate the culture of learning and innovation. 
Learning more about IT within C-suite will make the enterprise or institution "smarter", more client-centric with enablement for growth, build trust and transparency, manage risks with intelligence and streamline information-driven decision scenario. 


its a good article.
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