Thursday, June 1, 2017

Connecting IT and Business without “Lost in Translation”

The top leaders such as CIOs have to be fluent in both business and IT dialogues, and switch them back and forth without “lost in translation.”


Due to the exponential growth of information and lightweight digital technologies, IT is gradually becoming engrained into every aspect of business these days. The clear cut divide that used to be there between IT and business in the olden days is vanishing fast; IT is the business, IT-business relationship needs to be shifted from alignment to integration to ensure that the business as a whole is superior to the sum of pieces. And digital transformation is a thorny journey, with complexity, uncertainty, trials, and pitfalls on the way, how to harness communication and enforce collaboration between IT and business without “Lost in Translation”?


Bridging IT - Business communication gaps via eliminating “Lost in translation” syndrome: The role of the CIO is to take the vision/strategic goals of the business and translate them into the technology requirements, and then communicate further with IT staff and translate technique requirement to their daily tasks. Ultimately a strategy has to end up expressed in people's job descriptions and workloads. The mistake that most organizations make in this regard is to fail to translate the high-level language of strategy into the professional language of the various staff specialism. A well-established organization has different dialects, Strategy communication has to be customized from general management background to technical background employees. Engineers need engineering language, marketers need marketing language, finance folks have their languages, etc. The top leaders such as CIOs have to be fluent in both business and IT dialogues, and switch them back and forth without “lost in translation.” Communication effectiveness can be improved when the hard barriers are broken down and soft obstacles are overcome. There are hard communication barriers such as out of date processes, procedures, practices or soft ones like culture, politics or leadership style, etc. The highly effective business leaders and strategists are business “multi-linguists” who can overcome those communication obstacles, master different business dialects and convey the right message to tailor different audiences for harnessing communication effectiveness.

Business and IT have to work together to achieve the common business goals both agree with: Traditional IT organizations are often order takers, without a seat at the big table, no wonder there is a disconnect between the business’s strategic goals and IT top priorities. The CIO has to work with the senior executives to understand the business, the business drivers, long-term objectives, and strategy and then ensure that he/she is providing input to support these because nowadays, IT is a top influential element in business strategy-making. It is invaluable for both. IT is not just part of the business; it is a critical, integral component of the business. IT and business have to know what's going on in each other's space and why IT and business must rely on each other's strengths and support each other in the most relevant capacity. So trying to fix the wrong cause of a problem will waste time and resources, increase anxiety and lead ineffectiveness. The cross-functional teams are given the opportunity to work together, not only learning from each other and tackling the tactical issues together but striving for the same strategic business goals and achieve high expectation of the customers.

IT management is the business of the entire company: The management of IT goes beyond IT because often information has to flow across functionally with the business ecosystem in order to capture the real business insight in a comprehensive way. Digital means information flow and idea flow, it takes an organizational scope support to manage the business information life cycle. Hence, connecting and integrating IT and business is crucial to run a hyperconnected business with the strategic responsiveness and structural flexibility. Technology by itself doesn't 'do' anything. Applying technical capabilities to market opportunities is where the magic happens. For CIOs to be invited into the boardroom, they need to speak to the business about the strategic imperative of organization. Each organization has a set of capabilities that enable it to achieve successful outcomes, whether financial, brand or double bottom line, IT plays more significant role in orchestrating such a unique set of business capabilities. CIOs would be able to identify true cost savings, workflow optimizations, and additional revenue opportunities for the entire company and improve its competency. Therefore, IT management is the business of the entire company.

Digital IT plays an omnipresent role in catalyzing business digital transformation via leveraging internal and external resources, integrating business processes, building organizational competency, enabling, innovating, and optimizing the consumer-driven technologies that are going viral in the enterprise. Connecting IT and business is strategic imperative to run a high-effective, high-performance, and high-mature digital organization.


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