Monday, July 16, 2018

The Digital CIO’s Journey: How to Manage IT in the RIGHT Way

Digital transformation represents a break from the past, with a high level of impact and complexity. 

The exponential growth of information and emerging lightweight technologies provide the new opportunities for the business to pursue innovation and catalyze business growth. The business must begin to see IT, not just a business enabler, but a digital accelerator and game changer. Digital CIOs will need to deal with the dramatically increasing complexity, the multidimensional diversity, and multifaceted change. It is the thorny journey to manage IT in the RIGHT way and leap the business to the next growth cycle for getting digital ready.

Shape the RIGHT mindsets: Traditional IT managers often have the controller’s mindset to keep the lights on only. To expedite changes, digital CIOs need to have the growth mindset in order to run IT as the business revenue maker. Rebooting IT mindset is to make IT become more strategic, it is not just about making IT look good, but in becoming the trustful business partner. Traditional IT is often overloaded but spends a lot of time on fixing the symptoms, but the real problem will continually come back. In many cases, the customer does not really understand the real cause. In this regard, IT management should turn on the “debugging mindset,” to do a root cause analysis and discover what is at the heart of the problem. To run IT as the software startup, digital CIOs need to be equipped with the intrapreneur’s mindset to focus on both top-line business growth and innovation management in order to achieve better than expected business profits. IT is actually like the “digital brain” of their company, to store, process, and refine information into the business foresight and customer insight, making the business players access accurate information and knowledge conveniently, and run a real-time digital powerhouse to unleash the full potential of the organization. IT will not "be the business" if it does not reboot its mindset and focus on the top prioritized business initiatives and explore the better way to run a high-performance digital business.

Forge the RIGHT business relationships: Traditional IT organizations often were run as a silo function and support desk only. But digital organizations are hyperconnected and interdependent, to improve IT organizational maturity, there are multi-layer relationships inside and outside the organization CIOs need to manage. Horizontally, the CIO should have peer to peer relationships with business executive teams. In fact, C-suite is hungry for the CIO to step up with their insight of the business and technological expertise. Trust is earned by the business and IT working as a whole, head to head and hand in hand. IT also needs to manage the multi-layer business relationships across the digital ecosystem such as shareholder relationship, customer relationship, or vendor relations effectively, so that IT is like the linchpin to orchestrate an integral and informative digital powerhouse. Digital savvy CIOs can identify the formal and informal power brokers cross the boundary and establish a personal dialogue with them to identify the real problems prior to presenting the IT-enabled business solutions. A CIO that has a great business relationship, can communicate effectively with all levels of the organization, has a solid grasp of the business goals and objectives and can interpret them into an IT strategy as well as mapping into IT management practice without “lost in translation.”

Drive the RIGHT business results: Traditional IT organizations often manage performance from inside-out lens, present the number perhaps the business is not so interested in. Digital CIOs need to leverage out-side in business lenses and drive RIGHT business results as well as convey them in the RIGHT way. Companies are recognizing that IT is roughly coupled to the business strategy, and it is a very good sign about how IT will deliver business value. Effectively, IT exists within a business to increase revenue, reduce costs, improve services, manage/mitigate risk and assist with statutory/corporate compliance. A successful CIO ensures delivery of agreed IT enablement to the business goals. To reinvent IT as the revenue generator, the focus is on IT as a value creator rather than a cost center; IT should help the business improve net profit by optimizing cost, leveraging right sourcing and sizing, plugging revenue leakages, and maximizing output, etc. The qualified result is more important than quantified measurement. Assuming an organization believes that metrics can lead to continuous improvement or even make a leap of digital transformation. From the measurement perspective, how you measure IT performance directly impact on how you manage IT in the RIGHT way for meeting the business goal and whether you can unleash IT potential as the revenue generator.

Digital transformation represents a break from the past, with a high level of impact and complexity. IT organizations have come a long way from being pure technical specialists to being critical strategic partners for achieving business growth and transformation. The important thing is that CIOs as the top leadership role must have the strong mindset, yet creative enough to not hold the company back from growth, follow a set of the well-defined digital principles to develop the RIGHT talent and manage IT in the RIGHT matter.

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