Thursday, May 31, 2018

Avoid Pitfalls to Run Digital IT

Organizations rise and fall, not on the quantum of plans and resources, but on the capabilities to lead and manage, yet most important to execute.

The nimble digital technologies and abundance of information change how we think, live, and run always-on and always connected digital businesses today. The world is becoming smaller every day and as the consequence, every successful business has to sooner or later step into the uncharted water and blurred business territories. It brings both significant opportunities and unprecedented risks, how to understand and overcome pitfalls on the way for running a high-performance digital IT organization?



Lack of strategic IT leadership: To keep IT relevant in the era of fast-paced change and service on-demand model, there's a fundamental shift happening with the emergence of converging digital technologies that impact the business through cross-departmental collaboration. Lack of strategic IT leadership is the pitfall to reinvent IT as the trustful business partner. If the CIO comes only to speak about IT as the service provider, he or she only acts as a functional manager. IT ranked CIOs need to learn the business and gain an in-depth understanding of end customers. In fact, CIO is one of the most senior IT executives in the organization, and therefore, must have a seat at the big table to share the technological vision and co-create business strategy, to evolve IT as an integral element and digital linchpin. They should participate in conversations and get engaged in the investment process prior to the decisions already being made. The CIO has to run IT flawlessly at the prevailing level of sophistication, help IT become more differentiated, integrated, proactive, and aware of the organization as a whole. Without a clear vision or gut to break down silos, CIOs will meddle in the middle, IT will continue getting stuck at the lower level of organizational maturity. Forward-thinking organizations are empowering their CIOs to lead changes and practice innovation juggernaut. This is a golden opportunity for CIOs to lead the way by enabling, governing and optimizing the consumer-driven technology and information management, which are going viral in the enterprise. Becoming a strategic IT leader simply means being a proper "C-level" leader to build strong and value-creating relationships with C-suites, between IT and vendors or suppliers; and build a high-performance team with a strong bench.


Not investing enough time to identify pitfalls and discover the root cause of business problems: Many IT organizations are overloaded and understaffed, spend most of the time and resource on “keeping the lights on” or fixing symptoms only. Not investing enough time in identifying pitfalls and discovering the root cause of issues would make IT suffer from busyness and lower customer satisfaction. Even worse, the wrong cause of the problem will perhaps grow new or larger problems and create the disconnect between IT and the business. The better solution that crosses all industries is to keep peeling back the layers to find the root cause through asking big “WHYs”, or taking systematic approaches - to discover the root cause, and address it. In practice, CIOs should spend some time on making an objective assessment of IT beforehand: Is IT too operation-driven without spending sufficient time on strategic changes? Can IT management and staff communicate well with customers in the common business language without “lost in translation”? Which is the percentage of resource or budget spent on innovation? It’s important to integrate risk management into change/operational management as well as the everyday business model, to help move the organization a couple of steps forward in achieving business excellence.


People as the weakest link: People is still one of the most important factors to run a digital organization. Misfit mindset, change inertia, or talent gaps are all people-related pitfalls. Without overcoming those pitfalls, the success rate of digital transformation will decrease significantly. Businesses need to strengthen their weakest link - people by cultivating the culture of learning and innovation and ensure the right people with the right capability being put in the right position to solve the right problems at the right time. Effectiveness goes before efficiency. People often have the tendency to feel efficient - doing things right when working on the problem reactively. However, effectiveness - doing the right things requires a little bit of thinking before doing with digital fit mentality and attitude. By identifying and overcoming talent pitfalls, the management is capable of instilling energy into their organization; able to set good policies and processes to build a delightful working environment; and able to bring the new perspective, and come out the alternative way to do things.

Organizations rise and fall, not on the quantum of plans and resources, but on the capabilities to lead and manage, yet most important to execute. Digital is all about change and exploring! IT needs to avoid the pitfalls on the way, move up the maturity level, in pursuit of effectiveness and performance by having governance in place, with a long-term focus to get digital ready.

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