Saturday, December 12, 2015

Three “B” Factors in Running a Digital IT

IT is at the crossroad to shift from industrial mode to digital mode, and be more propositive.

IT is working hard to transform from a cost center into a value center, but some of the challenges facing in IT valuation is that too often, IT is driving by a look at rear mirror only, not pay enough attention to the front window and create forward-looking view upon how to run IT smoothly, or only focus on ‘tangible’ value, with ignorance of ‘intangible’ one. So here we introduce three “B”s in running a digital IT:

Bimodal IT: Keep the balance of IT stability and speed. Technology enablement is always about planning, funding, designing, building, operating, securing, optimizing and balancing, but digital IT has faster speed. So you have to strike the right balance between stability and agility. From IT management perspective, bimodal IT intends to manage two separate, but coherent IT delivery modes. One focuses on stability to “keep the lights on,” the fundamental IT responsibility to support business and serve internal customers. However, such mode limits IT potential and even drag down the overall business speed. Hence, with the emerging digital technology trends such as SMAC (Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud), many IT organizations now explore the second mode -running faster, modular, nimble and resilient IT with digital speed, to focus on IT agility -the IT capability and capacity to adapt to changes. At cloud era, IT organizations will have to keep both models: the on-premise models to keep IT stable and reliable; and the hybrid cloud model to take the path of IT growth and expansion, and cloud shift focuses on what's differentiating to the business, the "what" value of IT services rather than "how" to do it.

Balanced scoreboard: The balanced scorecard (BSC) is a strategy performance management tool - a semi-standard structured report, supported by design methods and automation tools, that can be used by managers to keep track of the execution of activities by the staff within their control and to monitor the consequences arising from these actions. From strategy management perspective, the scorecard helps you a lot when it is into execution mode, not in the paper mode. The success of the strategy is not only based on how well you have planned but how well it is executed. It is very useful for facilitating discussions and ensuring decision makers understand the various trade-offs. One of the strengths of the scorecard is that they enable practical use of the success factors and performance management concepts. It puts these key success enablers in the spotlight for all team members and unifies their efforts to achieve the common goals. Scorecards help greatly with prioritization. It is too easy to be swamped by report and dashboards. The scorecard allows you to focus on the most important thing and doing them with efficiency.

Big Data Analytics and Decision Making: Businesses enter the digital era of Big Data, with business dynamic of velocity, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity, the first priority of IT is to manage information effectively, and ensure the right people to get the right information to make the right decision at the right timing, because it will directly make impact on business’s short term bottom line and long time prosperity.  The CIO is one of the leaders of the organization, he/she should be working hand in hand with the other leaders within the business to identify what the opportunities are to help the different departments work more efficiently. How can IT get the information to the business departments faster and cleaner in order to make better and faster business decisions? A key requirement for CIOs is to find problems that analytic can solve; rather than show up with a solution and then find a problem. It is the IT’s responsibility to understand the business problem and opportunity. Analytics by themselves are useful, but it is a hard sale when you don't understand the business problem. So that's always the challenge. How can IT get closer enough to the business? You need to understand enough to be able to not just ask "what's a problem we can help you with," but to be able to say "we see this problem based on our prior discussions and think we can work closely to solve it with you."

Indeed, IT is at the crossroad to shift from industrial mode to digital mode, either move up value chain & maturity level or get stuck as utility & cost center. IT needs to be ‘propositive,’ which is always giving ideas, leading ahead of the pack and breaking the status quo, focus on these “B’ factors, IT leaders can manage strategy-execution  via balanced scoreboard, set the right priority, and improve IT performance and maturity cohesively.


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