Sunday, November 2, 2014

CIO’s Challenges in Digital Transformation

From IT-Business Alignment to IT-Customer Alignment.

Digital provides significant opportunities for business growth, also brings unprecedented risks to cause business fall. Never before has IT and business been so closely tied together. Never before has technology moved more quickly and missteps have larger trajectory impacts on every aspect of the business.

IT & Customer alignment: Since the biggest challenge to business success is IT and IT's biggest challenge is understanding the business expectations, IT system will fail and people will make a mistake, the biggest challenges for IT leaders would be the inability to effectively communicate the importance of delivering to expectations vs. requirements, to transform IT organization from cost center to value creator. Perhaps it is time to "align IT to the customer" rather than "align IT with the business" to put one ahead of the change curve and look to leverage the amazing XYZ+ generation's innovation and drive.

Speed up to adapt to the rapid change: The biggest IT challenge is the pace at which the IT executive's responsibility for business operations, efficiency, effectiveness, and continuity is outpacing his or her authority to make those areas a success. Can the current IT system and infrastructure handle a shock in the business tomorrow? The shock could be both positive and negative...strategic business transaction, a new large customer, new vendor relationships, loss of business and need to scale down, M&A activities etc...

Creativity:  Digital is the age of options, it provides the opportunity to think the new way to do things, so it forces IT leaders to get really creative in how they architect and implement change, to ensuring IT is strategically positioned to be ahead of where the business is moving next while, at the same time, being so tactically pinned down by existing legacy infrastructure and inefficient/outdated business processes. While nowadays, technology is more often the business disruptors regardless of sectors, and IT needs to become innovation engine to catalyze their business growth.

Holistic information management: Digital is the era of Big Data, data and information provide a significant opportunity for business growth, also brings the unprecedented risk for information protection and privacy concerns. However, due to the functional silos, there are many instances where IT managers and risk management experts are in positions to play politics for the budgets rather than a focus on organizational matters. Along with the balance between IT/GRC, the balance between business needs, technical capabilities, and security processes which seem to lend itself to identifying "who is responsible" rather than collaborating to "solve the problem."

 IT as a strategic partner: What is the next action to enable the organization's strategies? CIOs have to overcome the challenges to maintaining and empower such role as business’s strategic partner, and technologies, the source of funding, competition, will better sustain the current competitive advantages or being sources for new ones. The crux of the question - is what an IT executive / leader must plan for, articulate and, of course, execute to: 
1) match the demands of the business and customer; 
2) set and communicate the forward-looking vision - strategies setting the stage for business success and IT funding to achieve; 
3) process, procedures, people, and structure to execute the services  
4) the technology folds in to ensure achievement and execution. 

Project portfolio & investment management: Once executive management decides a project is "mission critical" there is no cease and desist... it's "Make it work somehow!" and that usually means over-budget, over-schedule and under-featured products and never, ever an after-actions examination of the project. Further, everyone demands services -thousands of projects - 99.99 uptime - and then hammered for spend, the challenge is about project management, set priority right and improve project success rate, and investment management - turn the costs from IT to the business (demand spend) - create a group in the business - let them determine IT spend - take the burden from the CIO.

Therefore, digital CIOs, born to change, how they overcome these digital transformation challenges depend on their ability to think, adapt, proactively plan and execute, with a sense of humor.


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