Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Digital CIOs as Problem-Solvers

IT has the capability to bring out a technology-enabled solution, and be the spinal cord for the organization.

Modern CIOs have many personas, fundamentally digital CIOs are problem-solvers who need to take business problems large or small, find good solutions for them, increase value propositions, simplify operations and be the better business partners with the rest of the organizations.

IT needs to shift from an order taker to a proactive problem-solver: Traditional IT organizations are often overloaded by the internal users’ requests, operate via an inside-out lens to keep the lights on and are perceived as the cost center. To reinvent the tarnished IT reputation, a proactive and creative problem-solver is needed. IT leaders need to have the strong business orientation and ability to bring the benefits of IT to solve business issues innovatively; they need to have the ability to align the business requirement with the IT capacity and build an IT-enabled differentiated set of business capabilities for problem-solving and improving the organizational competency. It means that they are not necessarily always say “YES,” to the customers, but they are able to constantly and dynamically lead an IT structure that will seamlessly solve the real issues in the better way and well ahead of the business requirement; they have the ability to interact with the business on their processes and pain areas. IT has the capability to bring out a technology-driven solution, driving adoption of applications, be the spinal cord for the organization - integrating various departments, to simplify and optimize processes across functional boundaries, and often across the entire enterprise. This requires an unprecedented level of collaboration with the line managers and business units who own those processes. Hence, IT leaders need to be good communicators who have the business acumen and great problem-solvers who can leverage the outside-in viewpoint to run IT as the business.

The digital CIO is a business conductor: Running IT as a problem-solver does not necessarily mean CIOs will solve every problem on his/her own, it’s more about the ability to think analytically and synthetically, to orchestrate and manage business solutions via high-performance IT teams, partners, even evolve customers/users for brainstorming new ideas and building optimal innovation portfolios. Business has three fundamental elements: People, process, and technology. The role of modern CIO is to identify and blend the ways that information and technology can assist and shape the business by linking all digital aspects together to create business synergy for either problem-solving or digital transformation. IT is there to provide whatever technology services/solutions the business needs to serve its customers; mix all important business ingredients in creating products and processes which generate differentiated value for their business’s long-term growth.
Enforcing the weakest link - People in problem-solving and strategy execution: IT delivery is about People, Process, and Technology. The first is PEOPLE. However, people are often the weakest link in the business as well. From talent management perspective, the CIO organization shouldn't just be stocked with technologists; you need problem solvers, change agents, customer champions and innovators, and those who can think forward, dig deeper, see through the issues, look around and beneath the corner, and work smarter. Companies have to make a tough decision to increase their bottom line or net operating income, but they must do so by first investing in their employees so that they are able to find better opportunities in the future. The success of any problem-solving must include the welfare of the principals - employees. Involve your users by giving them active roles on the project, make them feel important, appreciate and reward them, and then, your project is off to a successful start, and real issues can be solved, not just fix the symptoms.

Statistically, around 20 percent of IT problems are caused by technologies, 40 percent are caused by people and 40 percent of them are caused by processes. Either CIOs as ideal Chief Innovation Officer or de facto Chief Process officer, CIOs’ positive tones can amplify collective human capabilities in the organization and takes the calculated risk in solving tough business problems and gaining the business competitive advantage.


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