Friday, May 13, 2016

“CIO Master” Tuning XXXI: How can Digital CIOs Run a Delightful IT with Zeal

Modern technology proves human’s progress. 

At a contemporary business, technology is an enabler for business transformation, process optimization and talent empowerment. However, the majority of IT organizations are perceived as support centers with heavyweight hardware boxes and back office functions less delightful today. And IT leaders are often the transactional managers who can only speak technology jargons to keep the lights on, with less passion, but more heavy duty. With emergent lightweight digital technology trends, how can IT reinvent itself as a cool innovation center less wired, but more connected, less legacy infrastructure, but more powerful? How can digital IT leaders run a truly delightful IT with zeal and improve its agility and maturity?

Digital CIOs are expected to constantly propose new ideas and challenging the status quo: Though IT has become “softer” because it shifts from a monolithic hardware oriented support center to a mosaic information driven "digital brain." the CIO as IT leader also needs to demonstrate more hardcore competencies beyond just soft skills only. A confident CIO needs to keep asking, "why? why? why"? to manage incremental innovation in optimizing business processes, also, hunt for disruptive innovation with structure in renovating business model and upcoming business expansion. Boldness needs to become the part of the digital CIO’s personality profile. The role of the CIO is to drive the corporate vision and strategy through effectiveness and innovation in the knowledge and information channels. The CIO has to look forward and actively position the business in the right place to take full advantage of opportunities. In most organizations, the IT leader is positioned to understand the business across the enterprise ("Seeing the forest through the trees"). When he/she can accomplish that goal, that is when IT can drive value into the organization to become more delightful. CIOs who are only putting stress on "have the knowledge" not on "build the knowledge" might be in danger just to preserve the organization and thus create huge constraints for the possible innovation. The CIO has to look forward and actively position the business in the right place to take full advantage of opportunities. To digitize and speed up IT, the CIO should look to businesses outside their industry to spur the out-of- box thinking and dot-connecting innovation; to find examples and opportunities on how the other firms addressed similar challenges and implemented different types of products and services to delight customer or reach new markets.

IT needs to be creative as the “right side of the brain” of the organization: Digital is the age of options and innovation, it provides the opportunity to think the new way to do things. 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! However, excessive IT complexity limits innovation and historical lack of success in IT project compounds the situation. To break the mold, IT needs to rethink itself as an innovative and business leading organization composed not only of technical ‘gurus’ but rather of business ‘gurus’ who also happen to be technically proficient. Cloud provides the leverage for IT to optimize strategy and execution; and brings significant opportunity for business to leap through digital transformation. To digitize IT and business, it's also important to leverage design thinking for improving customer experience. The strategic objective of design thinking is to understand what your customers need and to help the business orient itself towards those needs in pursuit of its objectives. To do this you have to understand the company's long-term goals, brand, and the Industry realities (competition), as well as the market. Develop a high-level design strategy that satisfies the requirements of different groups, also, improve IT maturity from functioning to delight.

Managing a highly innovative IT with engaging employees and delightful IT teams: To run an innovative IT, the more difficult challenge is not just launching a successful team, but maintaining their motivation and focus. DRIVING is not a passive activity, but a proactive effort. Though it may not be so fair to only have the CIO shift the mindset, from the board room to front desk, digital thinking means new learning attitude, from the business side, it means to show the constructive dissatisfaction, understand the risks and potential bear traps. Innovation is not always equal to the latest gadget, it’s about people, culture, partnership, manners, etc. Isn't that what innovation is all about: do it better, differentiate yourself from your completion, run, grow and transform the business. So educate IT team on the business and encourage them to engage with business counterparts in a value-oriented manner. Modern digital CIOs have to play different roles and communicate with the different audience such as boards, business partners, customers, vendors, etc. CIOs who practice creative communication with openness can help others contextualize better as well as demonstrating the trust.

To break the mold, IT needs to rethink itself as an innovative and business leading organization. The CIO‘s innovation journey can be traced at the rocky road with all sorts of ups & downs, bumps and curves, but with clear goals to delight customers and to engage employees via effective processes and right tools & platform. A radically different kind of management needs to be in place, a different way of thinking and coordinating work, a different set of values, a different way of communicating, and a differentiated set of capabilities to run a delightful digital IT with zeal.



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