Wednesday, August 31, 2016

“CIO Master” Book Tuning XXXXXXXXVII: Three Aspects in Running a Strategic IT

Be proactive, be real, be innovative, be engaged, seek to engage others, lead through example, that is the path to run a strategic IT.

The majority of IT organizations today still get stuck in the lower level of maturity, to “keep the lights on,” and be transactional and operation driven. Therefore, business partners still think IT as a support center and help desk organization. To transform IT into a value creator and improve its effectiveness, IT needs to become strategic and innovative. More broadly speaking, IT is about distributing and sharing information on the scale and provide strategic insight and multidimensional values to the business, which includes a seamless customer experience, an optimal business service, a commercial value proposition, or a social system which deals with and provides context for varying interest and need. But HOW to run IT as a strategic partner?

How does IT become strategic? IT is impacting every business unit and is becoming the driver of business change. The good strategy and forward planning are paramount to make IT striking the right balance between long-term perspective and short-term problem fixing. As organizations that do not respond to external environmental changes will quickly outcompete as more innovative enterprises take their customers. IT can keep business areas up to date with the opportunities emerging technology and the abundance of information provide. Businesses are looking for IT to add new innovative methods for business optimization, business transformation, improving quality, agile construction etc. Thus, it's important to foster an innovation culture to create innovative IT-enabled business models and business capabilities through a combination of existing and emerging technologies. Deliver the innovative capabilities to capture first-mover advantages.

How does IT deliver maximum value to businesses? The exponential growth of the “digital transformation” opportunities is creating new innovation opportunities for the business. The role of CIOs continues to evolve rapidly in the midst of the information or digital transformation and the accelerating changes in technology. CIOs must not preoccupy themselves with operational platforms and process improvements only, and they must have a higher level of influence on how businesses change. For CIOs to be invited into the boardroom, they need to speak to the business about the strategic imperative of organization. For that, they need to be very aware of what top people have in mind on the strategies/tactics binary and give them all required information. The IT value itself is a multi-dimensional concept, and then, it comes analytics and metrics as a way of measuring the performance benefits of IT to business. Once this is done and the business understands the value of IT, IT can expect some sort of partnership with the business, where you have business folks coming up with further ideas on how they can benefit from IT. So the business starts seeing IT as an integral part of the business and not just as an enabler.

How can IT maintain vigilance? With the vendors offering SAAS solutions that business can utilize directly with almost no IT support, IT should feel a competitive pressure. IT can no longer feel like it has a monopoly on delivering solutions to the business. IT should be more integration focused rather than re-inventing the wheel with most custom development that takes place. Understanding and having a visual representation of your IT/Business capacity will result in your ability to understand where your internal resources are being deployed. It can drive IT to run more like business as well as understand the business strategies more comprehensively. With this metric in place, you can then begin to decide which business units /departments/ stakeholders are receiving too much capacity, and which ones are not. More specifically, IT value to the business can be categorized in a number of ways, such as:
- Improving Agility (Speed to Market, ability to change direction with the market, etc)
- Increasing Revenue (enable the business to gain market share, enter new markets, etc)
- Lowering Risk (reduces system downtime, create business continuity, etc)
- Lowering Cost (reduces the cost of current business process, improve margins, freeing up capital)

Be proactive, be real, be innovative, be engaged, seek to engage others, lead through example, be known as approachable, passionate, and above all truly care about the most valuable resource you have, your fellow employees, then IT can overcome numerous roadblocks on the way to becoming a strategic business partner.  


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