A Strategic IT is Silver Lining for A High-Performing Business.
Many organizations still consider IT as maintenance department and Cost Center, which lenses do you take to look into IT depends on the senior executives’ perspectives, background, and the organization’s culture as well. Forward-thinking IT organizations are at turning point of change from transactional IT to transformational IT and from operational IT to strategic IT.
From order take to strategic partner: CIO should be a mentor and strategic partner for executives and business management, to clarify the impact of technology and the strategic transformations of business to enhance the competitive advantages for the organization. The main role of the CIO to educate executive peers with the values delivered by IT and he/she should speak to them with their own language to change their perspectives, that depends on the capability of CIO and culture and education of the recipients. It’s the CIO's responsibility to shift the department's internal reputation from an order taker to a strategic partner. That means getting some quick wins under the belt, spreading the word about IT, and saying yes to projects (where it makes sense) rather than no. Word will spread, if only in disbelief. Once CIO shows his/her (and his/her departments) worth in a way that a non-IT person understands (and keeps on communicating this until the end of times), suddenly IT will be getting opportunities to take part in wider activities, and can truly become a silver lining for the business.
From operation to innovation: There are many ways IT can bring in revenue directly and indirectly. Implementing ways to address completely new markets segments and by increasing the value for customers (pushing up the unit costs and margins) are just a couple ways to generate direct revenue for the business. Moving from an operations-oriented cost center to a more strategic position as things like automation, cloud, etc. help free up at least some time from pure operations and gets IT focusing on innovation. Senior Management Support is essential for the success of the IT project: Especially when IT project is transformational that implies power shift of the responsibilities, Also culture, and Human Resistance plays vital roles. Business needs to know the two faces of IT well: 1). Cost center-as IT needs to provide basic services (enterprise system, enterprise infrastructure, etc...). 2). Strategic partners-when IT leadership is able to translate IT assets into tactical tools in business alignment and also as a strategic enabler of the business. IT is always a combination of cost center and strategic partner.
CIO must think forward about IT performance measurement. It is the responsibility of the CIO to find a way to effectively measure and communicate the value IT brings to the organization. If the other executives are not interested in your figures, that is a sign that you are using numbers that cannot be benchmarked apples to apples, or the numbers are not presented in the right way. Universal metrics and benchmarking are great tools for this purpose. The traditional quality of service or speed of service or SLA/OLA approach has built a wall around IT restricting it to contribute beyond support entity. Measuring IT in terms of business-centric metrics such as 'cost' or 'customer satisfaction' will bring IT to the table as a partner. Mapping & measuring IT to the business objective is the key point.
Only strategic IT leadership can build strategic IT. The IT leaders play a critical role in refining IT reputation. It is a challenge, but keep at it; innovate new ways to bring value to the business, then try new ways of showing the value you have created. Do it in a way that you are acknowledged not only internally but also external to the organization and embrace the business ecosystem on your achievements.
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