Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Digital Board’s IT Inquiries

The digital board’s IT inquiries help the business understand the critical role of the IT in achieving business performance and maximizing the business potential.


Information is the lifeblood of the business and technology is the disruptive force behind the digital transformation. Nowadays, information technology can either lift or fail the business even overnight. Therefore, an IT-friendly board should change the perspective to understand the power of information and the potential of technology. Companies can leverage IT to improve the top line business growth and build the long-term business advantage if it always has IT-literate board director to participate in the conversation. Here is a set of digital board’s IT inquiries.

How to set guiding principles for an IT organization? The corporate board oversees the business strategy and sets guiding principles for practicing business management disciplines. Guiding principles let the organization know what to expect when dealing with IT. It serves as a yardstick by which to manage and measure IT internally and externally and can spur some great discussions with fellow C-suites. To oversee the strategy, you will need a cascade of statements that link the overall vision/philosophy of the organization, value statements (used to monitor overall performance - how the vision is achieved), Mission Statements, Strategy, Objectives, and Programs (Tactics). There needs to be a pragmatic way of applying whatever principles to the problem in a consistent manner. Otherwise, it is a waste of effort to even state them. Today IT is permeating into every corner of the business, IT management is no longer just the business of IT department, but a holistic management discipline to ensure the right people getting the right information to make the right decisions for solving the right problems. The board’s IT oversight is important because it is not easy for a set of principles defined that can be applied holistically - their content contains natural conflict, and without a method of prioritizing and implementing them consistently, they become a source of contention.

Is IT an enabler or an obstacle to getting things done in organizations? One of the biggest obstacles to achieving digital fluency is the gap between business and IT. IT is supposed to be the building block of the business competency, but often it’s perceived as the roadblock to getting things done. Too often IT is involved too late in the decision-making process. This results in a dynamic where the business develops enthusiastically nice and shiny plans and goals and IT then has to explain why this cannot be developed and fit into the plan at a reasonable investment. Thus, an IT-friendly board should oversee the business strategy with IT strategy as an integral component, invite IT leaders to the big table for providing input and sharing technological vision. If the IT focus is on operations and controlling only, it is no wonder non-IT executives consider IT as an obstacle. IT leaders must know how to promote their organization by "selling the right things right," to have the seat at the big table to envision the radical digital transformation IT can catalyze. The corporate board monitors the business performance, collaboration, transparency, respect and clear leadership are the keys to breaking down the silos, and every department in the company needs to work together to be successful.

Does your organization have too many business initiatives? Companies overwhelmed with too many business initiatives is a common scenario. The root cause of the problem is the lack of connection between strategy and implementation. Identifying what generates the most value for the company and expressing that in strategic objectives help managers keep their eyes on what matters. There are a couple of contributing factors to project overwhelming and lack of priority, such as lack of leadership effectiveness, underestimate resources, the “whirlwind” of the day to day operations, etc. The corporate board’s strategy oversight and performance monitoring help the business management including IT set the right priority, lead the business to a realization that the real challenge and the real opportunity in improving the corporate governance of IT are in reworking the management systems for planning, building and running IT so that they are integral aspects of the corporate management systems for planning, building and running the business to improve its effectiveness, performance, and maturity.

The digital board’s IT inquiries help the business understand the critical role of the IT in achieving business performance and maximizing the business potential. The top leadership needs to sort through the issues, develop rationalizations and achieve mutually acceptable solutions that are then communicated up, down and across the enterprise, to integrate IT and business, and make a seamless digital transformation.




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