Thursday, August 31, 2017

CIOs as Digital Leaders: How to Build a Digital-Ready IT Roadmap

A comprehensive digital ready IT roadmap with a clear vision helps the business navigate through uncharted water and truly becomes the compass to navigate IT digital transformation seamlessly.

IT plays a pivotal role in leading a digital transformation in their organizations because often technology is the disruptive force behind digital innovation and information is the gold mine every forward-thinking organization is digging in. To stay competitive, companies must go beyond just experimenting with some digital technologies and commit to transforming themselves into a fully digital business powerhouse. Therefore, strategic IT leaders have to take the time to build a comprehensive IT roadmap which shows the stepwise transition plan and define more than one way of achieving the goals. It is the set of investments, programs, and schedules that take you from the current state to the target state of the business. For each approach, estimate costs, resources required, timelines, risks involved, and trends.


Break down the IT roadmap into several stages with crucial points: Each stage represents the crucial point in which the business gets the benefit of the activities so far or has taken up the activities so far to form a stepping stone for the next big step.


-Tipping point: Organizations reach the tipping point for the digital transformation when they are equipped with digital awareness, organizations need to have a comprehensive digital strategy with the first step to understanding the real business problems and gain the full awareness of both potentials and perils. The toughest part of the strategy is the tradeoffs, The more you can front load and truly define the current state, the easier the journey moves ahead.


-Turning point:  Digital transformation isn’t just an extension of continuous improvement of the current business, but a quantum leap with radical change. It requires a unique vision and the courage to pursue it. Organizations reach the turning point when their top business leaders can think outside the current constraints and comfort zones, they are courageous to break down some rules and take the bold move to drive changes. The first best factor to the “transformational change” and its further “championing” has been the endless self-exploration and self-transformation in the material, emotional, intellectual dimensions that make a big leap in the journey of digital transformation.


-Inflection point: Inflection is a bend, a fold, a curve, a turn, a twist; A strategic inflection point is a time in the lifecycle of a business when its fundamentals (people, process, technologies, cultures) are about to change with accelerated speed. Such a change can mean an opportunity to rise to new heights, or a risk to hit the uncertainty.  You have to transform the company's collective mindset/behavior, underlying functions and organization as a whole with adjusted digital speed.


Attach interim goals, assumptions, timelines, business units’ support needs and implementation plans: The digital ready IT roadmap with the stepwise processes from here to there should include the goal clarification, rough timeline and should provide the business benefit each interim state provides:
(1) what do we have? (processes, artifacts, staffing, etc.)
(2) What the application portfolio looks like today?
(3)What it needs to look like to achieve the business goals?
(4) What can we achieve in the time frame (3-5) years?
(5) What are the series of initiative/changes/steps that bring the portfolio from here to there?


Get acceptance from the senior management for the costs, timelines, budget allocation, resource requirements, training, and freeze the road map and publish it: To build a practical IT roadmap, it is important to have senior management to make IT investment justification. It’s about spending the money right and getting the right results. You should spend to make a return. The merits of IT investment are to ensure you are looking at your numbers in a manner consistent with others. It helps to position IT as a transparent business partner; it provokes thought and challenges the status quo; it also helps to validate your spending levels or force you to explain why it differs from the norm. It is important to collect feedback from senior leaders and other functional managers regarding their top priorities, their views of the company strategies and the strategies in their departments, the key business processes and systems, the maturity level of cross-functional communication and collaboration, and the organizational capabilities that exist and need to be developed. The end result is a dynamic tree-like structure of road maps with interlocking deliverables and schedules. The IT roadmap is well done only when it gets acceptance from the senior management for the cost, timelines, resource & budget allocation, training, etc. So the published IT roadmap truly becomes the compass to navigate IT digital transformation seamlessly.


A digital transformation is a long journey with all sorts of bumps and curves, setbacks and turnarounds. It is not all linear steps, but an iterative scenario. A comprehensive digital ready IT roadmap with a clear vision helps the business navigate through uncharted water, avoid pitfalls on the way, to make the smart investment and achieve higher than expected business result.

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