Sunday, February 19, 2017

Three IT Practices to Build Dynamic Digital Advantage

Today’s top digital leaders including CIOs should spend more time on setting principles and managing the set of next practices for prioritizing, innovating and continuous optimization.

We live in the information-abundant world with digital convenience; and every day more and more technologies affect the way we live, think, and work. Great opportunity, danger, and disruption are around every corner, IT plays a significant role in the digital transformation of the business, it is important to develop the next and best digital practices for building the dynamic digital advantage and accelerating changes and innovation.


IT entrepreneurialism: Today IT is the wing of every successful business. IT entrepreneurialism becomes a new fixture for management in their efforts to substantiate their competitive position, effect market landscape, and drive new revenue growth. The key here is to gradually institutionalize and communicate innovation throughout the organization and run IT with the software startup mentality. It is an advantage if the CIO has diversified experience, with both business domain and technical expertise to identify IT visions, and gaps between IT and business operation, ultimately eliminate the gaps and lead the digital transformation of the business. The CIO must be a transformational leader that not only manages the IT group but also make leadership influence at the organizational scope or even across the digital ecosystem. The IT department provides guidance, direction, and business solutions in the application and adoption of information technology solutions in enablement of business objectives! Based on the fact that most IT organizations still get stuck at the lower level of maturity (reactive, order taking), the more important thing is to work on the activities and considerations that need to be addressed to enhance the IT-business relationship via breaking down the silos and flattening bureaucratic management pyramid, to help organizations become highly innovative and highly adaptive to changes and create the value for the business’s top line growth as well as improve the long-term dynamic digital advantage.


Digital balance: Technology enablement is always about planning, funding, designing, building, operating, consolidating, modernizing, integrating, securing, optimizing and balancing. Digital organizations today have to balance many things: Speed and stability; creativity and process; centralization and decentralization; simplicity and complexity; building and purchasing; strategic focus and operational excellence; thinking, learning and doing; the best practices based on old experience and the next practices via the new way to do things, etc. From IT management perspective, the digital CIOs also need to have multiple personas and play the situational leadership to strike the right digital balance; they should be both strategic and hands-on; they should lead as the senior leader to set digital principles and policies, also practice out-of-the-box thinking to inspire innovation; they should know when to lead proactively and when to listen and take the lesson learned from others. CIOs' proactive attitude in trying new things shall not get confused with spontaneity or do things without a plan. A CIO who is wholly strategic should still know what is going on in his/her organization tactically; a transformational CIO has to first stop the pain, take care of chronic operational issues and deliver much-requested tactical solutions; keep things simple, but not simpler, but also spend more resources and human capital to build the dynamic digital advantage and business competency.  


Change the outdated industrial rules and set digital principles: Compared to the silo and static industrial age with process driven management style, the digital era is about hyperconnectivity, accelerated speed, and people-centricity. Hence, it is also important to change many outdated industrial rules in order to keep mindset flow, information flow, and therefore business flow. The authentic and transformative leaders should be able to change the rules of the game they're playing, firstly, of course, understand them in order to lead forward. Because leadership is all about future and direction, innovation and change. One of the most significant tasks for any C-level position is about principle and policy setting. Thus, the CIO has to look forward and actively position the business in the right place to take full advantage of opportunities. DRIVING is not a passive activity. Due to the omnipresence of information and technology, any CIO should influence on core policies of the company, both develop positive policies and align actions and attitudes with them. There are some organizations out there that have a plethora of policies and many of them are nothing more than that, just a policy. Just because a policy exists, doesn't mean they will be effective or followed, that takes leadership and commitment. The right set of digital principles and positive policies are fundamental to encourage people thinking positively, acting professionally, deciding effectively and being measured fairly; to make the right things easier to do and the wrong thing hard to do, and ultimately improve the organizational maturity and building the dynamic digital advantage.


Today’s top digital leaders including CIOs should spend more time on setting principles and managing the set of next practices for prioritizing, innovating and continuous optimization. Because the IT resources and capability are often the company's secret sauce and the key to building the dynamic digital advantage, winning position, and the overall business competency. Enablement through unobtrusiveness is what drives innovation and improvement in the ability of the enterprise to learn and grow as an entire organic system.

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