Monday, January 8, 2018

How to Run a Digital-Driven IT

The business-engaged CIO is a proficient digital leader to run a proactive IT and keeps navigating during rough sea to earn its spurs.

Businesses across the industrial sectors embark on the “Digital Era” of computing and innovating. The digital has become ’normality,’ and almost everyone now feels at ease with digital technology, but sometimes digital workforces feel frustrated with their IT organization. Therefore, IT needs to speed up, and CIOs should become more visible and accountable as the top digital leader. The CIO's leadership penetration is about the depth of IT expertise as well as the breadth of enterprise knowledge upon understanding business as a whole and even an entire digital ecosystem. But more specifically, how to run digital-driven IT organization?

DRIVING is not a passive activity: To proactively drive digitalization, the CIO has to look forward and actively position the business in the right place to take full advantage of opportunities. The role of the CIO is to drive the corporate vision and strategy through effectiveness and innovation in the knowledge and information channels. IT needs to be acutely in tune with the business. Due to the unique position of IT to oversee the underlying business processes, if the CIO can see beyond the confines of his/her own function by understanding all the moving parts of the business and contribute to the overall improvement of the greater machine, and then this is the true proactive contribution. If IT is considered a strategic partner, innovator and business enabler, and then CIOs are given a seat at business strategic plans and meetings. Nowadays, IT needs to work both in the business and on the business. Thus, CIOs have one of the most influential positions within the business. Digital IT is designed for changes, understanding and communicating the business strategy is a beautiful thing. Without business strategy execution, there is no future and no need for IT. Strategy management and change management go hand-in-hand. It is important to seize the opportunities for leading change, reinventing IT as a trustful business partner, and provide tailed business solutions to delight customers.

Dynamic planning is important to run a digital-driven IT: The CIO's proactive attitude in trying new things should not get confused with spontaneity or doing things without a plan. Due to the complex nature of technology and the rapid growth of information, in fact, CIOs must take a structural approach for managing a healthy digital portfolio and be optimistically cautious about managing risks. IT is not just shining technology toys. CIOs should try new technologies when there are clear returns that can't be found in the existing technologies, of course with great care on the potential risks. High-mature CIOs equipped with emotional excellence are both well-disciplined and flexible, they will not disrupt something that is effective, and they will adopt the new technology only when it presents clear business benefit such as accelerating performance, increasing growth, improving productivity, or harnessing innovation. They can manage business relationships effectively so that the business comes to IT for seeking pieces of advice and better solutions to their specific problems. And digital-driven IT can build its reputation as the trustful business partner.


Closing IT-business gaps and moving from IT-business alignment to IT business engagement: IT should be driven by business needs and goals rather than IT requirement. Digital CIOs should have both business acumen and technological vision in order to run IT for getting digital ready. Moving IT-business alignment to IT- business engagement means that IT not only takes orders from the business but also becomes digital rule-co-maker, to have the seat in the strategic meeting and make substantial contributions. That means IT management must get a feeler of the business view. It’s not sufficient for IT to provide commoditized IT services, it has to know how to solve critical business problems and benefit end customers. And IT should be measured from the business viewpoint as well. A CIO needs to first understand their business and industry, and then evaluate technologies based on the value or competitive advantage it brings to the business. To truly reach the premium level of IT-business engagement, IT leaders have to reach out horizontally to their business peers. CIOs are able to “sell” the business value at the boardroom and C-level, to get the business sponsorship and have fair peer to peer communication and collaboration. The business-engaged CIO is a proficient digital leader to run a proactive IT and keeps navigating during rough sea to earn its spurs.

To run a digital-driven IT organization, CIOs need to become “Chief Influence Officers,” learn how to leverage their expert power to influence the business influencers effectively. Digital CIOs today must shape their digital mindsets and develop their leadership capabilities to make multidimensional influence across the organization as well as the digital ecosystem to get digital ready.

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