Monday, October 17, 2016

"CIO Master" Book Tuning #122: From Here to There: How to Run an Always-on IT Digital Transformation

Digital transformation is not a spontaneous adventure, it’s a well-planned, step-wise and non-stoppable journey.

At today’s “VUCA” digital dynamic, hyperconnected and always on business working environment, IT is on the journey of digital shift, forward-thinking companies empower IT to play a crucial role in leading the digital transformation of the entire company. CIOs have to deal with constant ambiguity, increasing complexity, rapid change, and unprecedented uncertainty. From here to there, it is a thorny journey. CIOs as top leaders have to be humble to realize there are many things you know you don’t know and perhaps even more which you don't know what you don't know, what’s the premium way to run an always-on IT digital transformation?

“Keep the ends in mind”: CIOs have to get the transformation agenda right to refine IT reputation, as well as focus on business outcomes. To put simply, IT faces unprecedented opportunity to refine its reputation, also needs to take more responsibility as a true business partner. CIOs have to get the digital transformation agenda right and have access to resources (external and internal) to achieve the desired ROI. Always “keep the ends in mind.” Define more than one ways of achieving the goal. Conduct organizational level briefing and choose most suitable and acceptable approach. Once you know that current state (the starting point) for both the business and IT and how well they interrelate and get a vision for the business, then you can begin to put a vision together for IT. The last step will be to determine how you get from current state to the vision state in detail -building a comprehensive and practical road map with step-wise approach for digital transformation.

Doing more with innovation via continuous delivery: Innovations happen because of specific business needs. IT department should not live in a silo, or a function running as a help desk only. 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 and manage innovation in a structural way. Focus on the business value proposition to run a digital IT organization. Increasing speed of changes and unique challenges become more appear as IT leaders push the limits of the available technology, also pull resources and talented to figure out a solution to the problem on hand. Driving is not a passive activity, it is a proactive pursuit. To digitize and speed up IT, the CIO should also look to businesses outside their industry to spur the out-of- box creative thinking and dot-connecting innovation; to find examples and opportunities for 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 play a different role to the situation at hand: Traditional IT organizations are overloaded and understaffed, keep the hands full, but sometimes follow the industry best practices blindly without noticing that the situation is different or the speed of changes is increasing. From here to there, IT should be mindful, it doesn’t need to reinvent the wheel every time, or becomes a “YES” department for responding any request from internal customers. IT has the power to say “NO” to other internal business units if something is not in the best interest of the company. IT should also listen to both internal and end customers, and become an integral part of any business. What should be focused on is the integration of IT into the business decisions and processes. This will allow IT to shine in both roles as enabler and driver. IT proactively works as an integral part of the business to capitalize on opportunity via leading the transformation, or IT delivers the best solution to the business problems which meet the business’s requirement or tailor the customer’s needs. IT leadership is situational, there is the time to lead, and the time to follow; there is time to speed up and transform, also there is the time to keep the business stable with the steadfast pace. These roles will switch in all departments between leadership and support depending who takes the charge of a given project, and where the company's priorities lie.

IT- Information Technology should be seen by any business as a “digital transformer.” But from here to there is not a spontaneous adventure, it’s a well-planned, step-wise and non-stoppable journey. The pervasive digitization requires both business and technology professionals to rethink how things are done in organizations. The “reach and range” flexibility now exists removes barriers that have existed in the past. And IT leaders have to practice transformational leadership, situational leadership and innovative leadership all the way.


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