Friday, October 14, 2016

"CIO Master" Book Tuning #120: CIO as Chief Improvement Officer -How to Run a “Future-Proof” IT

Running a “Future-Proof IT” organization is really about being innovative, differentiated, accelerated, strategic, learning agile, and strategic.

Technology becomes pervasive in modern enterprises today, on one hand, CIOs play one of the most significant business leadership roles, to manage one of the most valuable business assets -information in digital organizations; on the other side, the rapidly changing business climate also makes CIOs feel like to live in the tropical jungle, facing many attacks, in the danger of getting dismissed as techies without business savvy by their executive peers.With emergent IT consumerization trends, businesses sometimes bypass the internal IT to purchase on-demand services with potential risk compromising. At the dawn of Digital Era with an abundance of information and lightweight technologies, how can CIOs act as Chief Improvement Officers in the organization, continue improving services and solutions, craft a set of unique capabilities and run a “future-proof” IT organization for achieving operational excellence and high-level agility and maturity?

Learning agility: With increasing speed of change and exponential information, the ability to adapt to change becomes more crucial than ever. The pervasive digitization means "reduced the time to knowledge." People and organizations could now learn faster in a time when leading strategists were arguing that the only sustainable advantage was to learn faster than your competition. Either at the individual or organizational level, being learning agile is perhaps the only path for running a future-proof IT. From talent management perspective, learning agility is particularly important for IT employees, due to the disruptive nature of technology and heavy IT workload, building a dynamic IT workforce with learning agile is strategic imperative in running digital IT because an adaptive mind has better learning capability. From innovation management perspective, digital catalyzes the culture of innovation due to the convenience of learning and sharing. How these ideas are recognized, filtered and dealt with well become a crucial factor in an organization's success for producing digitized products, services, and solutions. From IT leadership perspective, a learning agile CIO can make effective decisions, solve problems, and manage a dynamic IT organization via looking at things that are analytical, innovative, critical, as well as with change-aware, with the ultimate goals to achieve high performance and sustain it.

Accelerated speed: Traditional IT organizations are perceived slow to changes, even a laggard of the business changes. The faster IT can lead the business's digital transformation, the more "future-proof" it becomes. Running a “future-proof” IT is truly about reinventing IT as the change agent of the business, leading change and catalyze digital transformation with the right pace. In practice, even in the simplest organizations, there are different aspects of a business change at different rates, they experience the pressures for change differently. The 'Speed' is not homogeneous across the enterprise, there are differences between 'front office' and 'back office,' enterprises with multiples businesses and associated business models. An accelerating IT organization separates the exploitation of the existing methods and technologies from the exploration of the new way to do things via leveraging the emergent digital trends. Speeding up IT doesn’t mean IT goes rogue, it means IT organizations become agile, fluid, flexible, innovative, adaptive, intelligent, ambidextrous, and dynamic, for enabling business growth and achieving digital equilibrium, and improving overall business maturity.

Recombinant capabilities: Running IT to provide commodity IT services is not sufficient for survival and thriving at today’s hyper-competitive and always on digital business environment. Every forward-thinking IT organization need to discover its own strength, find its niche, and build a set of core, and better recombinant capabilities in order to become more competitive. IT shouldn’t be just operation or process driven, but focus on building unique capabilities and solving problems via outside-in customer lenses. It doesn’t mean IT needs to always reinvent the wheel, it’s truly about IT acts like an integrator or the “super glue” to deliver recombinant capabilities via integrating business processes, resources, information, and talent into a set of necessary and differentiated digital capabilities that the company needs to implement its strategy and bring high-performance result. IT is the only entity in the organization supposed to understand business entirely and has the oversight of organizational processes horizontally, IT needs to be able to provide innovative solutions or supply differentiated competencies that contributes to both top line growth and the bottom line success of the organization.

Digital is the age of innovation. If the business is not different, you are a commodity, either for IT or the business as a whole. Assuming the company has a great product, creating meaningful, relevant, and compelling differentiation in the mind of customers is the challenge. This is the foundation in which brands are built. Therefore, running a “Future-Proof IT” organization is really about being innovative, differentiated, accelerated, strategic, learning agile, and strategic, always “keep the end in mind,” to delight customers and catalyze business growth and transformation.


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