Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The "CIO Master" Book Tuning #148: The Perception, Profit, and Partnership of Digital IT

The perception, profit, and partnership of IT directly reflect and make impacts on the overall business reputation, maturity, and brand.

Due to increasing speed of changes and overwhelming information flow, many IT organizations are at the cross road - Shall they continue to run IT as a support center to keep the lights on? Or can they make a big leap to reinvent the tarnished IT reputation via the lens of Perception, Profit, and Partnership, in order to run IT as a growth engine and innovation hub? How does the business perceive IT leadership, and what can CIOs do to become truly transformational leaders, not just transactional managers?

Perception: Many IT organizations get stuck at the lower or middle level of maturity, running in a reactive mode, no wonder it is perceived as an order taker and support desk only. What usually happens is that IT couldn't get the business engaged and then ran out of runway. Same as CIOs, when IT only focuses on the operational part of the business, IT leaders are perceived as tactical IT managers without the seat at the big table. So the gap between IT and business is enlarged due to mistrust or “lost in translation” syndrome. At the higher maturity level, IT has to become the business growth engine and even a game changer. Nonetheless, the IT enablement and effectiveness should be measured and value attributed which the business recognizes and endorses. IT needs to be perceived as the change department of the company because IT maturity also depends on how it manages changes and drive digital transformation. From IT leadership perspective, modern CIOs have multiple personas, either the perception is fair or not, CIOs should take a personal approach to improving the reputation as “Chief Innovation Officer,” “Chief Improvement Officer,” and “Chief Insight Officer,” etc.  

Profit: The best IT leaders and managers have a strong understanding of what the business does, how it does it, and how it could be better with 360 degrees of view. IT needs to run as a business, to transform from a cost center to a business growth engine. Profits and then ROIs should be the driving force behind any IT management. IT entrepreneurialism becomes a new fixture for management in their efforts to substantiate their competitive position, effect the business landscape, and drive new revenue growth. IT leaders need to be excellent at articulating the benefits of making changes to the business' operating model and show how IT can make these changes happen. Triangulate multidimensional IT benefit both tangible (cost savings, efficiency, etc.) and intangible (brand equity, sales enablement, etc.) components from the different lens in building a more comprehensive IT value proposition.

Partnership: Digital IT shouldn’t be run as an isolated function, but a real-time business partner in order to bridge the gap and improve its responsiveness and maturity. IT leaders should check continually: Who are your supporters and who will be your detractors? Who will work with you to overcome the problems, and who will try to kick you when you're down? And how do you overcome the objections or roadblocks that will inevitably raise? IT is more critical in leading the organization’s digital transformation today. CIOs need to understand how technology affects each area of the enterprise. You have to speak business terms by area, not the technology. CXOs are all people fundamentally, and their approach to problem-solving and collaborative working is what shapes how either of the CXO would contribute. And high-performing IT will engage business for both questions and answers, businesses also should learn and support their IT, as trust is a two-way street. Organizations, where management/business is technologically evolved and keep up with digital/technology developments around them becomes key drivers for the desired synchronization with IT teams. In the end, it is not about technology, but what technology can do when it is enabling and integrating with change management and business processes to deliver strategic differentiation.

The perception, profit, and partnership of IT directly reflect and make impacts on the overall business reputation, maturity, and brand. High mature organizations treat IT as their strategic partners and often engage them in situations of no real tech need at the short term. The common goal for such partnership is to build business competency and bring the long-term business prosperity.


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