Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Multitude of IT Dexterity

Learn the business; be the business and become the business.


Digital makes a significant impact on every aspect of the business from people, culture to process and capability both horizontally and vertically. The purpose of such radical digitalization is to make a significant difference in the overall levels of customer delight and achieve high performing business result. IT is a key enabler of enterprise capabilities, and IT dexterity will directly and skillfully impact how effective of enterprise-wide digital transformation and business maturity. Here are multitudes of IT dexterity:


Process Efficiency: IT is in a unique position to oversight business processes, and IT is also one of the most critical elements in process management. Process underpins business capability, and capability underpins business strategy. Business strategy relates to the high-level definition of an organization’s vision, objectives, and the key initiatives that are required to pursue those objectives given a particular starting point. There is an explosion of digital technologies related to business today such as SMAC, and they are key forces to shape unique digital capabilities and improve business process efficiency and agility. Thus, process thinking needs to be a type of strategic thinking, holistic, end to end and with a strong focus on business goals set by strategy.

Digital Intelligence: The abundance of data and information brings both significant opportunities and enormous risks in business today, as organizations can harness the power of data to provide the business with a more fact-based vision of where to aim and how to get there, through identifying the right data, validating it and communicating it to right people at the right time. It can also cultivate a data-based decision-making culture, and build customer-centric business via real-time customer insight and business foresight. Along the journey, many organizations intend to decode digital intelligence and move up the maturity curve from knowing “what happened” to “why did it happen” (with root cause) to what will happen (capture the trends).


Customer Satisfaction: IT has two types of customers: the internal customers and end customers. IT should both satisfy internal users to improve employee engagement and productivity, also put effort on digitizing every touch point of client experience for end customers. IT implementation with change management best practices - should aim at improving customer experience. However, for many IT organizations, the one important aspect -customer experience, is missed or overlooked majority of the time. The focus always remains on technicalities of implementation and preparedness of business / user community gets forced to focus only at the end. the word "forced" is being used as user community get attention at the end as there is no choice but to go live on the system only with them. So what is really important is the design stage. If 80 percent of the time is a well thought through and documented activity, the implementation would be seamless.


Growth Mentality: Learn the business; be the business and become the business. Make IT more shared, integrated, flexible, reliable, and fast. Get engaged in the investment process prior to the decision already being made. Setup idea forums to engage the business and build business liaisons proactively to help shape the problem or opportunity before it becomes a project. This starts to build credibility outside of just managing the "run" side of things. Conduct presentations to management on new technology areas that have a short-term business impact and long-term strategic value to broaden their view of the team. IT as a digital transformer means to go beyond as a support center, but as a business enabler to contribute more to the business’s top line growth.


Innovation Engine: From an innovation perspective, IT mantra is shifting from “doing more with less,” to “doing more with innovation.” However, running an innovative IT doesn't mean IT will go “wild,” or "rogue"; more about IT should go smarter and flexible; it doesn't mean IT should get rid of all those processes or IT framework hassles. In fact, creativity and process have to go hand in hand; without process there is chaos and from the chaos it’s hard to be creative. Using both modes-creativity and IT framework to be successful; that could sound like a contraction. But actually you need to run a bimodal IT: the systematic approach with IT framework to achieve the benefits of industrializing certain domains of activity such as service management, Infrastructure management etc. the digital shift for IT in some industries is to be innovative with systems of engagement rather than systems of record.


Talent Expertise: Many IT organizations have forgotten one of their main social responsibilities, people development. This is also a long-term view and one of the main causes of business failure. Assuming the CIO has the proper empowerment, and it is targeted at making good people decisions vs. protecting its position within the organization, he/she should need critical thinking or the structured thinking upon talent strategy. Just like any kind of strategy, CIO’s talent strategy should diagnose the current problems about skill/capability gaps and workforce maturity, set up the guideline and make a set of choices, also measure the result accordingly. IT as the corporate information steward needs to advocate the benefits of data-driven talent management, which will bring business leaders together across the organization to share their experience and insight wherever there is a GAP in the system, help streamline and identify root cause immediately, and give practical guidance for improving and ordering HR data and using it in creative ways to gain predictive insight and competitive advantage.


Strong Partnership: It starts with building strong and value-creating relationships with C-suites, between IT and vendors or suppliers; and build a strong team with a strong bench. Trust is the key, which means IT needs to behave more like an integral part of the business. The trust also means IT and business work closely to deliver the business solution with optimal speed. In addition, customer-vendor relationship at modern business is both an art and science, complex and critical, but it’s worth the effort to craft such a good long term relationship, especially for IT vendors, how to delight customers takes both aptitude and attitude, how modern CIOs evaluate vendors also take fair judgment and deep knowledge. What IT expects from the vendors, is more about the speed, the scale, the value and the choices; is vendor up to the speed and delivers the values both parties agree on, does vendor provide choices for customers to fulfill the goals; or is vendor both accountable when having problems or flexible enough to solve the issues. So managing a multitude of  strong business relationships effectively helps improve IT dexterity and overall organizational maturity.


Due to the increasing speed of changes, the limitation of resources, the scarcity of IT talent, the high rate of project failure and the poor reputation as a business enabler, IT organizations today have to set the right priority, and make trade-off decisions by impacting business's top growth and bottom line all the time. IT also needs to improve its dexterity and drive the business’s digital transformation proactively.  There is an inherent conflict if IT views its primary objective as standardization, rationalization, and consolidation, but nowadays at the era of digitalization, IT means innovation, integration, and improvement.

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