Saturday, March 12, 2016

Running IT as an “Innovative Outlier”

An outlier does not lack knowledge but has the interdisciplinary knowledge to see things differently.

Many traditional IT organizations are still perceived as an invisible back office maintenance function, without enough knowledge about the business model of the organization; though technology is often the disruptive force for changes, IT function is often slow to adapt to changes. How can modern IT organization shift from a cost center to value creator, from an order taker to strategy cocreator, from an “isolated” support function to an “innovative outlier”?

The visionary IT leader has an outlier’s view: A visionary is often an outlier - the one who steps out of a conventional thinking box, or linear patterns. Visionary is the one who can envision the future, modern CIOs need to be technology visionaries who can help their organizations ride above the latest technology trend and leverage information for catching the new opportunity to grow business and delight customers. Have a "visionary" leadership team is important, visionary could mean the ability to think outside the box, to think creatively, to be innovative both inside and outside the organization. Because IT is in the unique position to oversight business processes, it has broader lenses to connect business dots horizontally, to understand the business processes/capabilities underneath the surface, to see around the corner for risk management. The more dimensions the lens has, the outlier leaders can manifest a vision. An outlier is not the lack of experience but has interdisciplinary knowledge. Vision is something you see, others don't, and a visionary mind is able to and not afraid to leverage contrarian views to shape a holistic picture. Although the teams are the engine, leadership must put that engine in place and care for it in a cohesive way.

Be innovative from the business's lens: LISTEN to your clients, stakeholders, vendors, partners and staff. To run an innovative IT, it’s critical to listen, comprehend and understand the people and the business they are part of, before embarking on any new way of thinking to know where you have come from enables you to move to a new place even quicker. The institutional trust, support, power, and autonomy make IT leaders’ vision a reality. Be careful, you do not want to come across as having a solution looking for a problem, hence, ensuring that you have the commitment from the senior executives to engage in dialogue (formal and informal) to derive a viable business strategy that is enabled/driven by IT would be good. Running a proactive and innovative IT is about making changes when people want things to stay the same, making rational decisions when others rush and responding quickly when others are slow. Once they believe all that, then, remind them to listen and get a complete picture before making decisions. With emergent digital technologies and consumerization of IT, and the whole consumerization of IT movement has largely focused on IT getting its arms around the trend and 'managing' it. IT has a great opportunity here to lead the business transformation. Rather than wait for business to tell IT what they want, IT needs to proactively work with the business and partners upon the great new digital technologies which can change the business. That has the added benefit of steering business toward things IT recommends to use. Businesses also love to see IT getting deeply immersed in the new apps, devices, and solutions and make internal customers more productive, collaborative and smart.

Be innovative from an outside-in customer’s lens: Digital is the age of customers. Customer Experience Management is key to every business. It is not just important, it is vital for growth, development and to make sure you stay in business. IT has both internal and external customers. it has to deliver the quality services and solutions to delight internal users and engage employees in improving productivity and creativity. IT is also an integral and critical element in building business capabilities for digitizing every touch point of end Customer Experience and building a customer-centric organization. Digital is also the age of empathy. To run an innovative IT, the more difficult challenge is not just launching a successful team, but maintaining their motivation and focus. Point out that customer inquiries are not just support related, but can foster new and better ways the application can perform and optimize every touch point of customer experience. What are the opportunities to change, how should you interact with customers and each other. Think like customers and let the business know how mobile, social and cloud can change the way to do business. Focusing on customer needs should be an easier path to grow the innovation fruit. If you're going to innovate without knowledge of "evident customer needs," then "the things that you are good at may distract you to build something which can really increase customer value and help business success for the long term. In short, instead of focusing on controlling computerization, use it as an opportunity to reboot IT mentality as a digital brain of the business and an innovative outlier to see things differently.

As the intersection of IT and people is where innovation happens, companies need to invest in IT necessary to make the business advances through either incremental or radical innovation! Running IT as an “innovative outlier” is truly about bringing the new perspective to grow the business and delight customer, to both capture the opportunities and manage risks timely, to become customer-centric and business-focused.


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