Welcome to our blog, the digital brainyard to fine tune "Digital Master," innovate leadership, and reimagine the future of IT.

The magic “I” of CIO sparks many imaginations: Chief information officer, chief infrastructure officer , Chief Integration Officer, chief International officer, Chief Inspiration Officer, Chief Innovation Officer, Chief Influence Office etc. The future of CIO is entrepreneur driven, situation oriented, value-added,she or he will take many paradoxical roles: both as business strategist and technology visionary,talent master and effective communicator,savvy business enabler and relentless cost cutter, and transform the business into "Digital Master"!

The future of CIO is digital strategist, global thought leader, and talent master: leading IT to enlighten the customers; enable business success via influence.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

CIO as Chief Influence Officer: Seven Points of Key Influences

 The strategic role of CIOs is more based on the influence made across the organizational boundary, from innovation to sustainability, from talent management to cultural transformation.

The CIO role by nature is fraught with paradox, the modern CIO need be both business strategist and IT manager, innovator and cost-cutter, visionary and situation-driven. Chief influence officer is one of the most pertinent personas for CIO in the 21st century since technology is ubiquitous in the information age. However, the traditional big box hardware style of IT infrastructure is disappearing, and more invisible digitized IT backbone based on Cloud computing is emerging, modern CIO is no longer just the chief infrastructure officer to manage back office of functional IT, this strategic role is more based on the influence made across the organizational boundary, from innovation to sustainability, from talent management to cultural transformation. Here we discuss the seven points of CIO influences:

1. Strategy Influence

The strategy is a set of decisions that drive or shape most of a company's subsequent actions. In a rapidly changing digital era and increasingly competitive global environment, IT is now considered a driver of a company’s growth strategy rather than just the keep-the-light-on function. As a result, CIOs now have more accountability and visibility than ever before. The CIO’s ability to create fundamental business value is now greater than ever. IT strategy and the “art of the possible” in technology influence the development of business strategy, closing the loop in strategy development. Co-development of strategy by business and IT would reduce risks of surprise disruptions and better involve IT in bolstering competitive advantage. Today’s CIO not only make a significant influence on organization’s key decisions, real-time digital IT tools such as mobile/social also provide insight and even foresight: the decision capability based on data & analytics, beyond executives' golden guts.

2.   Innovation Influence

Innovation is the execution of new ideas that create business value. Technology is the engine behind innovation at digital age, Chief Innovation Officer is another crucial persona fitting in today’s CIO role, CIO manages incremental or planned innovation via project portfolio or sponsoring business process optimization, and catch disruptive innovation by envisioning the industrial trends and data-driven foresight. It’s no secret that diverse groups come up with more innovative ideas. To tap into this multifaceted source of power, CIO will also help craft the innovation platform by taking advantage of modern technology such as mobile/cloud/social/analytics., etc. The traditional IT mindset aims to capture the value of technology through top-down planning, formal structures, and clearly defined processes. In the new normal, the mindset for success will emphasize a bottom-up search for value through innovative experimentation with customers and partners.

3.  Technology Influence

For high-performance companies, technology is the revenue driver and enabler of new business models.
On the one hand,  CIO is the authorized owner of corporate information technology, on the other hand, statistically 50%+ of the CIOs report to CFO or other executives, that’s why CIOs are more about the influence on IT budget and priority via  communicating and collaborating with other decision makers.In addition, IT consumerization & application sprawling is another phenomena in the current red-hot cloud era, business divisions sometimes bypass IT to procure their own cloud-based technological solutions without consulting CIO, and very often, with ignorance about governance, security, risk control and holistic vendor relationship. In the face of this new normal, the only thing the wise CIOs have to influence—persuade the business about the potential costs of the current situation and the benefits of your solution.  

4.  Culture Influence

Modern enterprise has recognized corporate culture as  the strategic imperative for any large scale change management effort, many companies also walk the talk, take the tough cultural journey: from culture ignorance, culture cognizance into culture transformation. If we say CEO may take the ownership about culture, then CIO could be one of the biggest influencers on it via the modern knowledge sharing platform, analytics tools  to inspire thought leadership, encourage the dissent opinions and demonstrate diversity. Through CIO’s radical influence, the invisible corporate culture becomes more tangible through measurable KPIs, the dynamic analytical culture and social learning environment will be cultivated to embrace the change, and the collective wisdom becomes the crucial factor at any strategic decision-making scenario.   

5.   Talent Influence

Though HR is the main function to hire or fire the people,  IT should become the  strategic partner to revitalize modern talent management based on data-driven advanced analytics.The high-performance businesses may have hybrid organizational structure: the traditional function-driven pyramid and dynamic networked model (to team up like-minded talents or group with cognizant difference),  IT could help set up such a structure and digital platform for intrapreneurship, encourage people to contribute to the innovation dialogue, unleash a diverse workforce, track natural leaders and key influencers,  CIO can also make influence on analyzing the data about the future trends, and long-term global talent strategy. The purpose of such a platform is:
  • To connect people across functions
  • To enable collaboration on ideas and projects
  • To build communities of practice and interest
  • To enhance knowledge about one another
  • To empower people with a personal branding page
  • To personalize the talent experience and make  large organization feel smaller
  • To track thought leadership and natural leaders at dynamic talent pipeline

6.   Sustainability Influence

Technology has become increasingly important and ubiquitously efficient in our society, however, all the use of pervasive technology comes at the cost, accelerating depletion of earth resource, increase the carbon footprint and accumulating the environmental waste. Modern CIOs has the new persona: Chief Sustainability Officer, to make an influence on the environment, also dig the new gold via it and improve business’s bottom line.CIO has to balance sustainability efforts with business demands via asking
-How could we measure current CO2 footprint accurately? 
-Once we establish a roadmap, how do we measure the effects of changes we make to technology and business processes?
-How can we use the data we collect to motivate and impact sustainable change, both inside IT and across the enterprise?
-How can we create a roadmap to reduce IT’s energy footprint and support corporate goals, but at the same time balance our sustainability efforts with business demands?

7. Influence on Influencer

     Modern corporations are massive, complex, dynamic ecosystems. In many of them, organizational inertia is considerable. The effective CIOs should have excellent working relationships with other business leaders, savvy CIOs can also identify the formal and informal power brokers cross the boundary and establish a personal dialogue with them prior to presenting the problem for consideration to the group as a whole. CIOs who have developed influential competence seek to understand the mindset of all related parties, it takes humble attitude and a fact-driven presentation, mixing candor with openness, leveraging humility and courage.

As the result of these seven points of influences, the effective CIOs can harmonize business nature and human nature, and lead transformation effortlessly and achieve the goals as if by magic.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Five Fingers of Tao: Pointing Out 21st Century Leadership

1.     Tao Means How
"To see things in the seed, that is genius." -Lao Tzu 

Tao is synergy of principle & creation, and it’s a process, about how and what. All process reveals the underlying principles, the Tao leadership convey a sense of harmony, create the synergy between business nature and human nature, and link strategy & execution via observation, communication and principles. .

2.     Tao Means Polarities
"The words of truth are always paradoxical." -Lao Tzu 

All behavior consists of opposites or polarities, which means any over-determined behavior produces its opposite: Over-complexity make inefficiency; on the positive side: simplicity is ultimate sophistication 

Knowing Tao, the wise leader does not push to make things happen, but instead pull the people, process and technology together seamlessly, to build up the high performance self-functioning team and deliver the innovative products and services.

3.     Tao means Being Oneself
"He who knows others is wise. He who knows himself is enlightened." -Lao Tzu 

Being authentic, the wise leader pay respectful attention to all behavior, dig into substance beyond the style, inspire the team to be open for the opinions and take innovative initiative. By being self , the nature is on your side, you can lead effortlessly and achieve the ultimate goals.  

4.     Tao Means Equal Treatment
Silence is a source of great strength." -Lao Tzu

Tao is unity, neither is one person or one people better than the rest of humanity, the same principle is as the golden rule: treat others as we want to be treated. Tao also means unbiased leadership with a little humility in order: silence is a great source of strength, the leadership harmony comes from influencing, not command & control..

5.     Tao Means Yin: the Open Collaboration
"Nothing is softer or more flexible than water, yet nothing can resist it." -Lao Tzu

Being open and receptive is called Ying, the pond in valley or water. The wise leader is like water: cleanses and refreshes all creatures without distinction and judgment, it penetrate deep beneath the surface, it’s fluid, responsive and flexible; From observing the movements of water, the leader can learn that in action, timing is everything.

In conclusion: the form of “dong without doing” is the ultimate expression of Tao leadership

Sunday, August 21, 2011

CIO’s Crown Jewel: Data

According to the IT analyst firm IDC, 15 petabytes of new information is generated every day (one petabyte equals one million gigabytes). That’s eight times the amount of information that resides in all U.S. libraries, and industry analysts place the growth rate closer to 100 percent annually. Data growth becomes one of the biggest challenges in modern organization, beyond the chaos, it’s the 80% of organizational core asset, and it’s DNA of digital enterprise.

Data is both the unprecedented opportunity and risk facing in today’s CIO, the attitude to data decides CIO’s multi-faceted persona and influence, CIO role is transforming from infrastructural manager to handle transactional data into the visionary business strategist to gain data insight and foresight via big data, and make strategic prediction & priority.

1.     Top Five Challenges of Data Growth
  • Cost Challenge
Data related cost include storage cost, power & cooler cost, administration cost, database license cost etc, it takes about 7% to 10% of IT annual budget,  though modern storage technology such as virtualization/de-duplication/thin provisioning/ tiering/cloud provide the advanced, cost-effective solution for the enterprise data demand, CIO need forward thinking the scalability and well-calculating ROI for the long term.

  • Data Full Life Cycle Management
Data/Information Lifecycle Management is the discipline around the planning, collection, creation, distribution, archiving of information, up to retirement and deletion/destruction, based on business and regulatory requirements. Data quality, data cleanse, MDM, data integration, data warehouse, data synchronization., etc are the fundamentals to decide the success of your business intelligence/analytics projects.
CIO should craft the right strategy, methodology and technology to manage the data and create effective link between data and business strategy.

  • Data Security/Disaster Recovery
From varies of industry surveys, CIO’s top concerns are disaster recovery (72%) and reducing the risk of data loss, theft and corruption (65%)—understandably so, since disaster recovery is a necessary part of preventing or mitigating data loss, especially the emerging cloud computing enables more agile business via fast delivery and OPEX model, however, data security is still the top concerns to adopt the cloud. CIO need invent the trend and avoid the pitfalls.

  • Data Governance
As the data (weather structured or unstructured), is aggregated and consolidated, to successfully leverage the data across the organization, it must be treated as an enterprise asset.  Data governance provides a common language that makes it possible to understand and act on information across functions and lines of business. CIO’s success pill –take with governance: converge data/IT governance with enterprise governance. 

  • Data Analytics/BI
Perhaps Data analytics/BI is one of the most powerful secret weapons in digital era to out-weight and outthink your competitors, the market-leading companies see their ability to exploit analytics as the distinctive capability—the agile business processes and the integrated capabilities that together serve customers in ways that are differentiated from competitors and that create an organization’s formula for business success.

It’s value-added CIO’s new battleground to use BI/Advanced analytics such as predictive analytics, context/location base analytics, to craft dynamic Links between data & business strategy, and cultivate the analytic learning culture surrounding in the organization.

2.     Five Senses to Dig through Data, Make Strategic Analysis

Where is data coming from? Operation data such as financial data, logistic data and HR data come from organizational supply chain, customer data from CRM/marketing, and big data from social/mobile/cloud/RFID,  they are the raw gemstones, and strategic asset for modern corporation.
 ·        Smell Data: smell the revenue growth opportunities/threatens via data based SWOT analytics, through embedded data analytics process, the organization could also uncover its strength and weakness, adapt to progressive improvement.

·          Listen to Data: hear customers’ feedback, and employee’s opinions, one voice maybe a noise, but collective data is chorus, and statistic analytics such as gap analysis (helps companies compare actual performance with potential performance) will directly drive such as pricing strategy, customer insight, supply chain optimization and strategic workforce planning

·        Touch Data: Feel the pain point and customers’ touch point, modern enterprises are mostly over-complex, integral data cross the organization will touch the ground, help optimize the process via root cause & simplicity analysis, improve business capability via simple process, not simpler (Einstein’s philosophy).

·        See Through Data: like tea leaf, data can envision the mega-trends, data insight and foresight provide the scientific scenario analytics via asking what are the trends, what is going to happen, and what are the best could be happened., etc.

·        Taste Data: crunch the data or taste the sweet spot: to further explore Porter’s five forces strategic analysis, and also discover his recent theory about transforming from CSR (corporate social responsibility) to CSV (corporate social value) via impact analysis: how will your organization make social/economic/regulate impact,  become the strategic shaper and rule maker for the long term.   

3. Five Strategic Crowns Weaved via Data Gemstones

Enterprise information strategy
Companies are pushing hard to get the benefit from their huge investments in IT. The effective enterprise information system focus on building the missing bridge between strategy and operation, apply their data in a focused, repeatable and structured way to support decision-making/analytical capability, the business agility and the art of possible

  • Customer Strategy :
Understanding the customer is the key to effective marketing, and IT can be at the center of a continuous feedback culture that encourages sales and service staff to provide information on existing and potential clients, retain their loyalty. IT should be championing the systematic collection, analysis and presentation of customer market data to identify where the higher-margin opportunities lie

  • Talent Development Strategy :
Unleash the employee full potential via above talent gap analysis, strategic workforce planning, IT should take the leadership to establish the communication platform such as social/enterprise 2.0, to encourage employee sharing knowledge & idea, inspire learning culture, and manage the modern metric system to evaluate talent via multi-dimensional lens, to make sure the right people do the right job at the right time, and manage the talent pipeline via analytical perception.   

  • Innovation Strategy:
“Innovation is the execution of new ideas that create business value."
Gartner's definition

In today’s rapidly changing era, IT is the innovation engine behind any high-performance company cross industry, via integral data and embedded data process, IT will help manage:
a)  Innovation Volume, which is the number of product ideas that are launched in the market;
b) Innovation Efficiency, which is the proportion of those product launches that are successful, as defined by meeting their net present value (NPV) goals for value creation.

  • Enterprise Risk Management Strategy
A data-driven,  driver-based risk management approach uses scenario analysis to prioritize drivers in terms of risk. These drivers also focus risk monitoring, remediation and governance so the organization knows where its key risk areas are and how they are organized. The effective IT risk management will deliver four As: Availability, Access, Accuracy, Agility.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

BPM’s Value Trails

A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.   -Lao Tzu quote

Last month we’ve got quite positive feedback about discussing BPM’s Rocky Road, to summarize BPM from the definition to confusion, from pitfall to best practice, from today’s reality into future’s perception.

 Last generation’s BPM more focus on document-centric process, application & IT integration, or structured human activities. From BPM perspective, the last decade, it’s more about “learning curve”, with some confusion and progression, passed some pain points and tipping points, walked through the rocky road and bumpy ride, as one of the prestigious BPM expert described: today’s BPM is a bit blind, deaf and dump. 

Statistically fewer than 40% of major improvement projects  typically achieve their stated goals, and the sustainability of these gains is even more questionable.

What is the BPM’s mission journey for the next decade?
No matter social BPM, mobile BPM, cloud BPM., etc, we believe the next generation of BPM should be more agile and wiser, we need transform BPM into a holistic management discipline that takes an integrated approach to the organization and its business as a whole, going beyond the obvious, and making bigger P&L impact. Hopefully it takes some happier trails and climbs up to the harvest hill.

Trail #1: Process to Delight Customers
Why: Can BPM help organization to explore Blue Ocean strategy—to develop innovative product/service with long tail and attractive customer value proposition?

Trail #2: Process to Enchant Employees
Why: Can BPM enhance creativity and employee engagement, framework for culture change & innovation, create dynamic link between people, strategy & operation?

Trail#3: Process to Manage Business Decision
Why:  Can BPM help every layer of organization to make rational judgment and decision via well crafted process, embed customer/operational data, to framework the risk intelligent, more resilient organization with imaginable growth?

HOW: In today’ constantly changing, digital & global era, the advantage of BPM lies in the requirement of the dynamics or flexibility in process orchestration, to build the conversation centric, business capability; and make radical improvement to mission-critical, cross-functional process.
The best practices include:

  1. Recognize the process pain point, customer’s touch point and operational P&L point;
2.  Base on above “point” of view, pick a pilot, not too big, but with strategic value and    

3. Build up the process mindset, encourage analytic, but also non-linear &out-of-box   
    thinking, with holistic view.

4. The dynamic team and roles include BPM champion, process owner, executive sponsor, analyst, architect, project manager., etc.

5. Roadmap, BPMS, communication, governance and metrics

6. Center of Excellence: to share resource, from pilot to parade;

Besides pitfalls list here, also pay more attention to:

Seven Sins of Organizational Measurement:

1. Vanity. This sin uses measures devised solely to make managers look good.

2. Provincialism. This one lets departmental boundaries dictate perform­ance measures.

3. Narcissism. It’s widespread: measuring from your own point of view instead of the customer’s.

4. Laziness. You assume you know what’s important to measure.

5. Pettiness. You measure only a small portion of what matters because you’re fixated on details.

6. Inanity. Stupid consequences flow from measuring the wrong thing. An irresistible example: To avoid waste, a fast-food chain told employees not to cook chicken until it was ordered, turning the fast-food chain into a slow-food chain.

7. Frivolity. This happens when leaders don’t take metrics seriously.

Thursday, August 4, 2011


The Agile process, methodology and technology we discussed above may flatten out the organizational structure and breakdown the traditionally hierarchical pyramid.

Today’s digitized and decentralized global economic environment not only proves “Change is the only constant” even more true than ever, but also the speed of change has been accelerated exponentially, agile imperative is  strategic priority for every progressive, forward-looking organization in the new decade of 21st century.

What is Agile/Agility?
Agility is the ability of an organization to sense opportunity or threat, prioritize its potential responses, and act efficiently and effectively.  More specifically, Agile means to delight customer with the optimized service and speed, to enchant employees with open leadership & communication, and to lead & manage the operation with the agile mindset, methodology and technology. What are the potential agile wings to lift up the organizations and to fly ahead of competitions?

1.Agile Business Process Management

Agile BPM vs. Traditional BPM

Traditional BPM is more about improving the efficiency and reducing cost via automating the structured micro-processes, so the problem is relentless emphasis on back-office operational processes that aren’t differentiating, and don’t ultimately create strategic value such as innovation or customer satisfaction., etc.

The Agile BPM focuses on human centric process optimization, process intelligence or process innovation, in pursuit of simplicity-the ultimate of sophistication, and unleash the corporate potential.

Agile BPM is about Effectiveness: which need holistic view of business and cross-silo data and processes, to deliver the outside-in customer perspective, with potential to build up the game-changing business model and processes, even create new revenue stream.

Agile BPM is also about Employee Engagement and Open Communication:
The latest technologies such as Cloud/Social/Mobile/Analytics empower the modern enterprise, like the wind to lift agile wings, employees should no longer be managed via mechanical command-control only management discipline, Agile BPM could help reinvent our working flowing process, to inspire the innovation and communication

2.Agile BI/Analytics

Tradition BI vs. Agile Analytics
Traditional Business Intelligence is more about operational hindsight or insight via analyzing the historical operational data/patterns, it helps organization implement certain level of efficiency via visual dashboard or scoreboard. However, more than 70% of BI projects have not achieved the expected goals and results.

The next generation of Agile BI such as Social BI/Cloud BI/Mobile BI., etc., which are web-based, self-service, to deliver the insight or even foresight more dynamically, it helps organization to make the right decision via recognizing both opportunities and threats and responding to the customers' request more promptly; it will also help cultivate the organization-based analytical culture, the persona-based BI user interface will not only  enable executives to make the effective decisions, but also empower the front-line employees to delight customers and entrust partners.

3.Agile Software Development

Agile vs. Waterfall        

Waterfall is a proven software development approach to fit in more static (assume no dramatic changes within 3 to 5 year period), hierarchical organizational structure (just like the shape of waterfall) with clear company boundary (very limited communication with customers and partners) in 20th century, yesterday’s stabilization may become today’s biggest obstacle such as inertia to change, cultural barriers., etc.

Agile development, although also being there for a while,  at many organization is still the second class citizen compare to Waterfall , or CMMI, ITIL with cross-industry adoption and standard, but Agile enterprise need agile methodology/management, it should be the trend for customer-centric, decentralized working environment, communication, interaction are the key to Agile's success, for the large software projects, the full Agile framework and support system need be well-designed to scale up the team, enforce the standard and enhance the communication.

Timing is everything! Agile enterprises need agile methodology and management, with the right wings such as Social/Cloud/Mobile tools, Agile will emerge as the mainstream management to adapt to the change promptly.

4. Agile Structure, Culture and Mindset

The Agile process, methodology and technology we discussed above may flatten out the organizational structure and breakdown the traditionally hierarchical pyramid and career ladder, so what is the ideal agile shape: Lattice or Cascade?

The agile culture and mindset, such as entrepreneurial attitude, lens of diversity, learning and analytic capability, cross-disciplined thinking, tolerance of ambiguity, need be cultivated and inspired.

As one of the Agile coach pointed out: “Agile is all about delivering the value, a more agile world view, including things like servant leadership, responsibility, empowerment, emergence, uncertainty, and respect for people.”