Saturday, December 23, 2017

Three Aspects to Run Indispensable IT

The really matter to run indispensable IT is to understand the core business and the problem to solve, focus on the business vision, harness communication and keep enthusiasm for getting digital ready.

IT is at the crossroad, either just providing commodity services to gradually become irrelevant, or moving up its maturity to be the differentiated business competency. Ideally, no matter which roles IT professionals fill, they need to remain indispensable because the enterprise's dependence on IT will only increase. However, in reality, business and IT work as the silo, fighting for the limited resources or competing for the never-enough budget in many organizations with the lower level of business maturity. CIOs as “Chief Insight Officer”: How to run indispensable IT to get digital ready?

Providing differentiated services and business solutions:
It is at the tipping point that top performing companies see IT as an asset, capital, and source of competitive advantage - something to invest wisely, develop step-wisely and nurture continually. IT in these forward-looking companies progressively see themselves, not as a service, but an integral enabler of advances in business and even game changer for the business’s innovation. If IT department is reduced to just an order taker, you have effectively become a commodity or being thought of as "unnecessary overhead" as well. Thus, CIOs need to understand how technology affects each area of the enterprise. IT is forced to learn the company's products, markets, and strategy, or they can't play in this space. Visionary CIOs need to understand not only technology trend but to understand what is the current business trend and emerging trend. There should also be strong interaction between operations leaders and IT leaders and their teams with feedback mechanisms and willingness to find better solutions that can support both the business need and build any ROI required to justify the business case. The fast-growing businesses set the top priority to build new capabilities in which IT is a key enabler, things IT does actually be tied to real revenue. Fast growth companies will challenge the cost control efforts, with the drive to bring new capabilities to the business at a fast pace. All these efforts make IT indispensable.

Delight both internal and external customers:
The focus of the digital CIO’s role has changed from product-oriented to client-oriented. IT should think twice about the term "customers" to refer to internal users. When IT considers their customer as the entity who buys the company's goods and services, some great things start to happen. It is the outside-in lenses to see IT management from customers' view, instead of just IT operation perspectives. CIOs should ask themselves what strategic advantage they can provide to the business and work to have the rest of IT learn the business they're in. Unless IT understands the needs of its internal and external customers, it will be unable and possibly unwilling to develop a system and process differentiation that leads to the kind of competitive advantage, that will propel the organization's growth and profitability. IT plays a crucial role in optimizing and digitizing every touch point of customer experience and improving overall customer satisfaction. The next big strategic IT breakthrough may well come from one of these long tail IT-driven business initiatives. And having lots of customers in your corner cannot hurt the cause. When IT can delight both internal and external customers, it is indispensable.

Develop the elbow-elbow business relationship:
CIOs will contribute to revenue generation when they are part of the senior executive team responsible for the revenue targets. To run IT as the trustful and strategic business partner, it is critical that the CIO focuses on relationship management. Having liaisons who build relationships from IT into the business, creates a kind of disintermediation between senior IT leaders and senior business executives. A highly effective CIO needs to be fluent both business language and IT terminology, interpret issues without “lost in translation.” This shift requires real elbow to elbow work between IT and the business to capture, structure, and communicate business intention in a way that becomes valuable to both parties. Information executives have to be fully aligned with the business executives in articulating the business strategy, establishing the policies. Thus, the different CIO characteristics need to be understood and communicated to meet the different business models out there. IT leadership maturity will depend a lot on the “scope” of the CIO in what he or she can influence. IT leadership needs to sort through the crucial business issues, develop rationalizations and achieve mutually acceptable solutions that are then communicated up, down, and across the enterprise.

With fierce competitions and digital convenience brought by technologies, IT leaders have to get really creative on how they architect and implement change, to ensuring IT is strategically positioned to be ahead of where the business is moving next. The really important thing to run indispensable IT is to understand the core business of your enterprise and the problem to solve, laser focus on the business vision, harness communication and keep enthusiasm for getting digital ready.

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