Monday, April 11, 2016

“CIO Master” Tuning III: Three Stages on the Road for IT to Reach Digital Mastery

To become value-added and master digital transformation, IT needs to be acutely in tune with the business, to be a proactive business problem solver with setting priority right.

The majority of IT organizations today are still running at the industrial speed, stick at the lower or mid-level of maturity, IT also is suffered from its reputation as a help desk and cost center and running as a silo.With the increasing speed of changes and continuous disruptions, CIOs as IT leaders face unprecedented pressure to reinvent IT and unleash its full digital potential. What are crucial stages on the road for IT to overcome obstacles, speed up to reach the next level fo digital mastery?

Identify Blind Spot: “Blind Spot” is due to a lack of sufficient resources. Many companies are trying to do more with less. Unfortunately, the IT department seems to be one of the first teams to be impacted by any budget cuts. This results in an IT team that has to spend all their time for maintenance and keep the lights on, rather than focusing on developing STRATEGIES that advance the business and give them a competitive edge in the marketplace. If IT departments are going to move in this direction, they MUST alleviate themselves of the mundane, daily tasks that weigh them down. Indeed, there are also blind spots in strategy formulation and execution. IT strategy is an integral component of business strategy, however, in many low-mature organizations, IT strategy is detached from business strategy, and the blind spots will be hidden in three “C”s: Customer, Competitor, Choice, and three “T”s: Threat, Trends, and Truth, etc. Business fails IT, just like IT fails business: Many organizations are still running at industrial speed -with bureaucratic culture and hierarchical decision-making scenario, at organizations with lower level of maturity, business is the sum of pieces than a holistic whole, functional silos compete for resources, rather than work collaboratively & seamlessly to optimize business. Such silo culture will create numerous blind spot in resources, process, capacity, and capability. One possible cause of the blind spot is the fact that many IT organizations can neither sufficiently measure the value they provide to their organizations nor, as a consequence, articulate their value to the organization in a language the organization understands.

Discover the niche competency: Digital is the age of customers. Assuming the company has a great product, creating meaningful, relevant, and compelling differentiation in the mind of customers is the challenge. From a customer perspective, if the business is not different, you are a commodity, either for IT or the business as a whole. This is the foundation in which brands are built. This is the strategy that helps to protect the brand and products from the low-priced competition. Running a niche player IT  has to be customer-centric as well, IT has both internal users and end customers. Running a niche player IT means you need to build a set of core capabilities which underpin strategy implementation and bring business advantage. The business capabilities cut across all functional pillars, they are fundamental building blocks for digital transformation. Processes underpin business capabilities; and culture nurtures capability coherence. From the leadership perspective, most of the executive peers do not have a deep understanding of technology or business processes while effective CIOs have to know both the business and the technology side of things. You cannot know only one piece of the equation. It means the CIO’s niche leadership is based on the strategic mindset, multifaceted knowledge & business understanding, anticipated leadership styles, and further, CIOs need to present high “PI” -the 'Paradoxical Intelligence,' because CIOs need to deal with constant ambiguity, they naturally gravitate to a leadership role when things are unknown, things will change, technology is involved, a tough problem has to be solved, etc.

IT acceleration: At the industrial age, IT had the reputation as a cost center and IT was not fast enough to respond to change. Ironically, often technology is the disruptive force behind the business transformation, to speed up, IT needs to fine tuning processes, building the right set of capabilities to improve its agility. IT acceleration also means to speed up the organizational vehicle as well.  IT is the steward of the business’s information system, it is also in the unique position to  oversight the business landscape horizontally. IT should play an important role in building up agile enterprises which can succeed in combining two distinct but interconnected elements: strategic responsiveness and organizational flexibility, with the combination of an innovative culture that promotes responsiveness throughout the company. To speed up, IT needs to run as an innovation engine of the business. IT should proactively generate ideas and then work with business partners to take those ideas forward. IT plays an innovation role as more of a proactive influencer. IT can drive all sort of innovation, proactively pushing ideas on how to leverage technology to drive revenue growth, increase business productivity, flexibility and speed up for changes.  

To become value-added and master digital transformation, IT needs to be acutely in tune with the business. IT needs to be a proactive business problem solver with setting priority right, IT and business need to work collaboratively to identify blind spots and close management gaps, to build differentiated capabilities and gain competitive advantages for the business’s growth and prosperity.  


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