Thursday, November 14, 2013

CIO as Agility Leader: How to Build an Agile IT

An Agile IT is an enabler and catalyst to business agility. 

With speed of business change is accelerated, IT shouldn't expect business to slow down in order to fit its plan, but to be more aggressive, practical, agile and cautious. What’re strategic perspectives to mange such an Agile IT?

Agility requires a set of complementary & strategic IT competencies, including but not limited to portfolio management, project management, change management, enterprise architecture, rapid adoption and deployment of new platforms, etc. It takes strategic guideline - If you have a very good idea of where you are going - what your systems will be like and how they will work - then it is much easier to choose quickly between immediate opportunities: pick the ones that take you in the right direction.As strategy as a vector has both direction and force, the goals should be clear and therefore the ability to follow a strategy more than possible.

Agility is being able to adjust one’s course. Sometimes this may be a huge adjustment. You always need an overall strategy. A strategy is not too specific that it inhibits agility. In this day and age, if a company is not agile, it will not exist for long. Strategy is the direction you're heading, agility comes into play when you're defining the tactics to get you there. You can have two kinds of stack - Tactical Stack where all operational measures which are short term are taken care and strategic stack - where you are having long term objectives so that business is supported from long term and short term point of views. Marrying the two together is a challenge but it is not impossible. Both should be part of strategy fitting a dynamic business climate.

The belief that only having no strategy will lead to agility is absolutely wrong - this leads consequently into the situations where the IT is the root cause for unsuccessful business. The first strategic goal should be to keep your capability to enable a strategy in case of unforeseen urgent changes in the business or other fields. This means you have to have well defined, transparent and "agile" service oriented IT architectures and services.

For achieving agility, there should be a rolling plan in addition to the mid term or long term strategic planning document. Need for agility arises due to changes in underlying assumptions. If these changes are captured in the rolling plan, flexibility can be achieved. Every CIO may ask self: Is IT responsive and proactive enough to find answers and solutions in case of emerging chances? Does IT have a platform which is scalable, secure, resilient and well interconnected.

IT does not dictate strategy to business. Any IT strategy cannot exist in isolation to business strategy. It’s an integral component of business strategy. If the business dynamics is changing, the IT strategy will need to be revisited and should be crafted in a manner keeping flexibility. Therefore, IT strategy needs to be flexible enough to serve the business as needs change. Adjustment to the IT strategy will be necessary from time to time. Plan accordingly. Business adjustments may be major, but more likely will not be, making them less disruptive to a well thought out IT strategy.That said, agile IT takes agile strategy.

The purpose of building an Agile IT is to pursue an optimal way running IT,  to enable business innovation and transformation via taking advantage of organization’s resources, and cultivate a set of necessary and unique set of business capabilities to gain competitive business advantage.   






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