Friday, September 14, 2018

The Interoperability, Changeability, and Visibility of Digital IT

The digital CIO's real challenge is how you can move the ‘needle’ forward, and really mind the gap to accelerate change and the organization’s digital transformation.

IT is always striving to improve its value to the business when it is part of the organizational strategy and business toolkit; not when it simply supports the things the business would do otherwise. Their constant exposure to information and the fact that they are usually the most "connected" part of all management group makes IT a lightning rod for new ideas and innovation. Digital CIOs are uniquely qualified to envision the digital trend and oversee business innovation. The challenge for them is how to discover an outlet within their organization to channel that lightning once it strikes and continue improving IT interoperability, changeability, and overall visibility to get digital ready.

Interoperability: To achieve IT management excellence, IT operation and project portfolio should be managed holistically; information, technology, and other IT assets need to be centralized, re-allocated, updated, or replaced if needed to optimize “people and process.” IT management is not just the business of IT, but the business of the entire company. Thus, IT needs to focus on harnessing cross-functional collaboration through iterative communication, robust processes, and management innovation. IT is also like the digital nerve system of their business, focus on connecting their companies to markets, help them understand their clients' evolving needs, and enabling their organizations to grow the business. From the problem-solving perspective, when you find problems, delve into the root causes. If the shortage of collaboration is a root cause of a real problem that the team can understand and can agree and then, you have a good reason for improving collaboration in that respect. From IT management perspective, one of the primary impediments to collaboration is a dissonance between upper and middle management and a similar dissonance between middle management and the frontline workers. Therefore, there are the needs to develop an effective IT management framework so that the CIOs can run the IT organization by bridging the gaps between IT operations and development; between upper and middling management. IT is the only entity in the organization supposed to understand business entirely, capture the oversight of organizational processes horizontally and pay attention to the processes and inter-connectivity under the surface. In the hyperconnected digital organizations, the business leverages digital technologies and tools in enforcing holistic thinking, cross-functional collaboration, and dynamic processes and case management. Therefore, CIOs must be transformational leaders who not only manage the IT group but also work to integrate and lead the integration (not merely alignment) of IT to business processes and the strategic value proposition.

Changeability: Fundamentally, running a business is a change and problem-solving continuum. IT is not only the super glue but also the integrator to weave all important change elements effortlessly and make change sustainable. Contemporary CIOs should be capable of evolving leadership skills to not only match pace with the changes in technology and the pace at which the organization can effectively manage these changes but also proactively drive changes in business transformation. However, the transition from a maintenance mindset to a changing mindset is a stretch for some IT leaders, but it's crucial to run IT as a change agent. Change is an ongoing business capability and Change Management needs to be a mechanism embedded in the multitude of IT management. The changes delivered could be incremental through training, transitional through improving a process, or transformational if it is fundamentally shifting the entire business model of an organization. While IT must change in many ways, so must the business when it comes to accountability for technologies they want to introduce. Thus, the CIO should sit on the executive board as the “digital transformer” because it is critical that the CIO with IT department effectively enables and facilitates the business strategy and objectives, and ultimately orchestrates the digital transformation.

Visibility: When IT becomes only the mechanism for realizing a vision described by other C-level executives, it becomes a commodity. To reinvent IT as the trustful business partner, IT should shift from an invisible back-office function to the business enabler and an innovation hub. IT is not just technical, but rather business-driven, IT visibility depends on how clearly IT leaders can convey the message about the value IT brought to the business. The highly visible IT can elevate its maturity from “controlling to change to innovate, and ”from "survive to strive to thrive." A highly visible IT organization can deliver the innovative business capabilities to capture first-mover advantages. Keeping IT management transparent helps to improve IT visibility and maturity. The visibility of IT asset consumption and the capability to allocate the cost of those assets based on that consumption results in an accurate measurement of IT contribution to Cost of Sale (COS) that is both traceable and visible. Achieving visibility of costs as a key IT strategic initiative today provides a pathway into technology optimization and justification of IT value contribution to the business. CIOs can share their technological vision, provide the visible innovative leadership and support that is required as traditional hierarchies are challenged and dismantled, to foster a culture of innovation, advocate change and brand IT as the strategic business partner.

During the digital transformation, it is the time for IT to rock. CIOs as IT leaders need to be able to recognize the struggles of the company by understanding the business beyond IT, also inform the business of IT change and educate business partners about IT value proposition, for improving IT visibility and overall IT management maturity. The digital CIO's real challenge is how you can move the ‘needle’ forward, and really mind the gap to accelerate change and the organization’s digital transformation.

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