Wednesday, July 6, 2016

"CIO Master" Book Tuning XXXXXXI: How to Strengthen IT from the weakest link to the business competency

To strengthen IT as business competency, the focus of IT needs to get back to its root--the big "I" as Information, Intelligence, Innovation, Integration, and Improvement.

Many IT organizations today still get stuck in the lower level of maturity, they are perceived as the weakest link by their business partners due to the slow pace for changes, reactive mode to fix the things, and lack of innovative initiatives to make a difference. However, at the dawn of the Digital Era, the business leaders across industries claim they are in the Information Management businesses, and IT has to become a game changer. Because the “fixing symptom” mentality is complacent, short-sighted and too “ordinary.” So how to strengthen IT from the weakest link to business competency?

Discover strength and ride above Change Curve: Whether a CIO should take the lead in strategic initiatives is predicated on whether they are a trusted source of cross-discipline information. If not, it may be anywhere from difficult to impossible for them to lead any strategic initiative because they are not strategic. Hence, SWOT analysis needs to be in the IT leader’s toolbox. Discover IT strength: From strategic perspective: Where is the organization on the technology or process adoption curve? Is the organization a pioneer, mature adapter, or laggard? What are the risks in taking strategic initiatives? How much risk are you personally willing to take? Tactically: Is the proposed solution in your wheelhouse? Do you have a lot of experience in this particular area, that some of the other executives don't? What are the change curves, and how to ride above them? Being a change agent is not an easy role, and with any strategic initiative, there can be a high risk of failure.A digital CIO needs to have a seat at the big table. If CIOs are not able to make any dent within executive board, then IT is just acting in the reactive mode. Their proactive solutions will not get enough traction in most cases. If the strategic initiative has a strong technology component to it and the business is driving the initiative, you must get involved to make sure that the technology selected will actually work and can be supported.  

Refine Competitive differentiation via multiple perspectives: Running an innovate IT means to always look for the better way to do things. How you find a solution to any problem depends on your perspective to that problem, but every problem has numerous angles to take into the consideration. Whether you are looking from above (CXOs) or below, both have the intention to ensure the best result for the company. From above and understanding that this viewpoint is vital to the long-term goals of an organization, managed services can look like a great answer. You get technical expertise, a deep bench of resources at a reasonable annual cost. A clear understanding what services are supporting your competitive advantage is needed. Services not critical in this regard can be brought outside. As IT is increasingly supportive of the competitive position and the business. In general, careful consideration must be made about which knowledge or skills have to be secured. Some CIOs are extremely risk averse and at the end of the day, they can frustrate their internal staff and business process owners by not delivering much in value-based solutions. The key point is that CIOs should have know-how attitude about business to strengthen IT as a business partner, they are able to demonstrate the full reasoning behind the proposal, in order to shift to proactive mode smoothly; and that needs a strong team, a full understanding of the business and how IT underpins all elements of it.

The intimate Business-IT partnership is the ultimate status to strengthen IT and deliver better fit, and right-on solutions: Any process or method can fail, particularly when misapplied, or without supportive culture. Communicating timelines and commitments for development done using agile methods is certainly one of the main challenges. Start to build personal capital with the executive peers so that when you go to them and say you would love to deliver this new initiative, and want to work with them to agree on how it will be prioritized and funded. Even you can not fulfill all business’s demands, but you deliver what you promise, and you do what is the best fit for business’s strategy and goals. And you are humble enough to listen to customers, but confident enough to say 'NO' with the fair reasons.

To strengthen IT and improve business competency, the focus of IT needs to get back to its root--the big "I" as Information, Intelligence, Innovation, Integration, and Improvement, in order to improve its agility and maturity. It means IT should spend more resources upon crafting unique business capabilities and capturing business growth opportunities, beyond "keeping the lights on." In this regard, digital IT should gain more strength as an innovation engine and digital brain of the business.


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