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.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Informative & Invaluable IT

IT allows business departments, stakeholders, and executives clearly see what is happening in the business.

Though IT becomes so ubiquitous and omnipotent in organizations today, it is not an easy job to articulate IT value in business language precisely, and these are good things to have when trying to express clearly and confidently what IT actually does for a company:

  1. Keep the Lights On:  It’s basic but crucial, just imagine what wouldn't work if the whole IT system has been shut down in the company, and management realizes immediately how important the IT is for the company. Analyzing any single company process in a matrix where you connect the process with the IT infrastructure or application used by that process is helpful to clarify the IT criticality as competitive necessities. 
  1. Horizontal View of Business for Effectiveness & Efficiency: IT is at unique position to provide horizontal view of the business and its capacities;  fill in the white space on the corporate organization chart, break down the traditional silos, and have the opportunity to help companies operate with significantly more efficiency and effectiveness than they otherwise could. 
  1. Cultivate Business Capabilities: How the technologies/systems enable efficient client/prospect development, enable the design and construction of products and services, automate processes to talent management, procure-to-pay, etc., IT is a key enabler for a set of capabilities business need have in order to compete for the future. Such as:  
Digital Capability
Innovation Capability
Monitoring and Control

  1. Business Transformation – IT should be part of the overall corporate strategy to accomplish the enterprise’s business objectives. When the corporate objectives are identified, IT should offer the application of technology solutions to contribute to the accomplishment of the goals. IT is the catalyst to harness and innovate, The board should know what they want to do, but may not well know how the constantly improving technology available might help them achieve the strategic goals, cheaper/quicker/better and thereby help business differentiate themselves from the competition. 
  1. Information-Driven Decision Making: The value of IT is providing the right information on demand to make or arrive at a strategic business decision. The information provided should be accurate, precise and relevant so that decision-making process is more successful. IT enables a complete “decision quality management” (DQM) life-cycle, also known as the ‘IT OODA’ Loop: Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act. IT is the lifeblood to make this decision life-cycle (OODA loop) possible. 
  1. Information Governance: More importantly, IT can use technology to address ROI - Risk of Incarceration. In today's world, Information Governance issues are rising to the top. Executives need to ensure that their information is accurate and auditable. Enterprise Content Management solutions are properly designed for the specific company/industry/culture and implemented to bring huge value. 
  2. Increased Productivity - How has technology increased the company’s productivity over the past "x" time frame? Easy of training (a new person starts and technology should make it easy for the trainee to get quickly up to speed). Simplified Reporting., etc. This includes all aspects of the company, data center, logistics, application throughput, etc.. 

  1. Business Process Improvement and Standardization (where possible) and master data harmonization, through both, leveraging industry best practices and identifying/ implementing innovative process specific to the business, which will increase efficiency, competitiveness, and profitability. The benefit of IT is reducing the TCO (total cost of ownership) as it reduces a lot of redundancy in the business process which ultimately increases the customer satisfaction (internal and external). 
  1. Innovation Driver: More critical than ever, businesses require I.T. to help drive revenue and business innovation (innovative products and/or services that the business can offer to clients to grow revenue). Senior executives are focused on company/business performance. Their number one metric for performance is revenue growth. Profitability/productivity, which I.T. has strong impacts on. Technology enables business in the business world today. In most cases, no technology equals no business. The intelligent application of technology produces the competitive edge. 
  1. Visibility: Perhaps the biggest value adds from IT is VISIBILITY: IT allows business departments, stakeholders, and executive clearly see what is happening in the business. From producing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to generating reports, to publishing information on a centralized portal. Too many organizations focus on the T in IT which is Technology in the past, high performance IT should focus on the ‘I’ for Information. IT provides hindsight, insight, and foresight of business and overall business visibility


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Digital Ecosystem is Beyond a Business Buzzword

A business ecosystem is just like the natural ecosystem, first, needs to be understood, then, needs to be well planned, and also needs to be thoughtfully renewed as well.

Due to accelerated changes and digital disruptions, organizations today need to behave as organisms living within ecosystems. An organism is an assembly of systems working together as a whole, often thought of as a self-organizing being, to react in a controlled, agile, and measured way. Therefore, mastering the business ecosystem is more crucial than ever.

1. Management Ecosystem 

The ecosystem is controlled by both internal and external factors, the principles of ecosystem management suggest that rather than managing individual pieces, resources should be managed at the level of the ecosystem itself.

  • Dynamic Ecosystem: Management systems and processes are gradually moving away from a static, unidirectional, and time-bound avatar to a more dynamic, continuous, and interactive state, such dynamic ecosystem explicitly seeks to create agile environment where people can grow, and business focus on dynamic resources, long-term perspective, scalable performance, and harmonized relationship. 
  • Dynamic leaders to adapt to the digital ecosystem: When organizations orchestrate a broader ecosystem beyond functional or business borders, culture clash as much more different management styles are required to move to higher-performing dynamic ecosystems. The dynamic leaders can bridge the difference and connect the dots, more tolerate ambiguity and uncertainty, such open leadership inspires the democratic culture, collective wisdom, and analytic decision process.  
  • Purposively plan the ecosystem: Companies operate within ecosystems to deliver value to their customers, however, for many, the ecosystems have evolved without much attention or planning. To effectively respond to these new dynamics, companies must begin thinking about ways to broaden their ecosystems and revenue streams while becoming more responsive and agile. 

2. Digital Ecosystem 

Today’s business leaders are capitalizing and operating on digital ecosystems that are expanding due to the confluence of social networks, mobile computing, analytics, and cloud computing (SMAC). SMAC also provides unprecedented opportunities for enterprises to take advantage of digital disruptions.

  • Multi-Industrial Collaboration: Instead of being rigidly grouped around a specific business, ecosystems draw together mutually supportive companies from multiple industries that collectively seek to create differentiated offerings and capture value they could not reach alone. Many companies have never been better positioned to engage in multi-industry collaborations. But few have broken out of the static industry box. 
  • Companies need new ecosystem partners to pursue benefit: Understand the competitive landscape, find partners that can help the business succeed, and demonstrate benefits to the entrepreneurial ecosystem in ways that might have happened in the past but at a much faster rate with much broader impact at the digital era. 
  • The ecosystem alignment: Align the different parts of the ecosystem to adopt more points of integration and incorporate the use of "stacks"— modular, layered, industrial designs topped by a peering community with the digital infrastructure, loosely coupled modular capabilities—Internal capabilities and processes are broken into modular service components that have standard open interfaces. Loose coupling makes it possible to change the components without affecting the system, as long as the interface is kept stable.

3. The innovation ecosystem 

Information systems play a fundamental role in deploying and operating these new ecosystems. An open information platform enables companies to integrate the critical components of a smart platform, which is “open” not only because it allows information exchange and participant involvement but also because it ensures that interdependencies and loyalties between partners are taken into account and build up a strong innovation engine.

  • Industry experts identify four evolutionary ecosystem stages: pioneering, when the basic paradigm of the ecosystem is being worked out; expansion, when the community broadens its scope and consumes resources of all types; authority, when the community architecture becomes stable and competition for leadership and profits within the ecosystem gets brutal; and renewal, when continuing innovation must take place for the community to thrive.
  • The ability to co-create in a digital ecosystem: A co-creation strategy treats customers, channel partners, suppliers, and industry ecosystem participants as active agents who have permission to combine the modular capabilities exposed in a platform to create new experiences. Talent-empowered organizations also embed the multiplier mindset and best practices into their strategies, processes, operations, and governance, talent multiplication moves from a key competitive mindset to an important and distinctive source of competitive advantage-Innovation capability.
  • Emerging markets offer particularly fertile ground for developing cross-industry ecosystems and innovation opportunities: It is in part because ways of doing business and customer expectations both tend to be more flexible than those in the developed economy, companies need new ecosystem partners to pursue them. Today’s technology enables companies to leverage their various environments, or ecosystems, to chase innovation and accelerate performance.
Therefore, in order to succeed in today’s fast-changing business world, harnessing the power of ecosystems is critical. Are businesses at the tipping point to embrace a sociological, digital and global ecosystem yet?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The CIO’s C-Level Thinking: Creative or Critical?

Creativity is perceived as an important part of our future and civilization, without it, there will be no technology.

Perhaps CIOs have one of the most sophisticated roles to play in the modern business world, as technology in nature is both scientific and innovative, thus, it requires CIO as IT master also being fluent in different thinking processes and business dialects in order to handle business complexities. So what are CIOs’ thinking style: Creative or critical?

1.   Creativity is Crucial Leadership Quality in C-Suite

Creativity contributes to growth strategy, creativity contributes to an alternative solution to a problem, and creativity is appreciated by the end customer, thus, we still view creativity as an important part of our future & civilization, without it, there will be no technology.

  • ‘Right-Brained” Creativity: Some define creativity as the innate process to create novel ideas, an ability to create new metaphors, strong pattern recognition - relationships between objects and actions, nouns and verbs, where none existed previously, CIOs need be creative enough to "dream" a new solution and "sell the dream"; logical enough to implement it, guide a team and "make it happen". A good solution is to have a creative CIO with 'logical minds' in her/his team.
  • Is Creative Mind Better Suited for Top Leadership: Though that most of IT Operations involve analytical and logical work, some argue it is the creative mind better suited for top leadership. So have the CIO think of new and uncommon ways how IT can contribute to the corporation and help the business to make right strategy with growth mindset ... and have the logical mind focused middle IT management to make it work.

2. Critical Thinking Streamlines Leadership Journey  

There is a need for creativity at the executive level, but it is hard to be strategic without first being able to analyze the current condition. It often takes a logical mind to determine if a creative solution will work.

  • The logical mind for the CIO: The CIO is a leader, a decision-maker, and success is often dictated by the logical choices he/she make. The CIO needs to be able to recognize areas of deficiencies and inefficiencies, then ask the question 'How can we...?" of the IT team. A good CIO would keep everyone involved and foster an environment of creative thinking & critical thinking.
  • “Left-Brained” Logic: Basic & traditional engineering mindset (logical, structural, rational) is very 'left brained'. CIOs have to have good analytical skills to see which creative solution works best to solve your problem or generate more revenue. You can be created for the sake of creativity, but your creativity can backfire without comprehensive analysis.

3. “Whole-Brain” Thinkers Wanted

It is absolutely correct that the logical mind is very important in IT and tech related department as machines do not work like magic but only based on instructions (in whatever form) provided to the machine. On the other side, steering IT as an organization requires more than logical thinking, it requires leadership capabilities and the ability to think outside the usual box. And it takes creativity to shape the new box. Without balance, you will go nowhere in larger organizations. 

  • Contemporary CIOs need to be "whole-brainers” ideally, or you may say being logic in your mind based on your years of engineering training/experiences., etc. but being creative in your heart, dream big, think big, as the CIO's vision will directly impact their organization's strategy for long term. That also says, one shouldn't classify creativity and logic in two completely different disciplines, they are also inter-connected, only mixing them seamlessly, CIOs can manage innovation effectively.     
  • Great CIOs must be great leaders: Great CIOs are not just determined by which side of their minds/brains is stronger (although a keen intellect and strong emotional intelligence are both key factors). Any leadership role, especially a CIO, needs to be better-rounded than to have a title of "logical" or "creative." A CIO has to be logical enough to plan, engineer and follow through, but more importantly, a CIO needs to be creative and persuasive in order to get their ideas approved and funded. A logical mind can follow directions, but a creative mind can make a difference. 
  • It’s all about teamwork: A CIO whose strength is management (planning, logistics, and organization) should make sure that he/she has some creative member on the leadership team (innovation, diplomacy, strategy). Likewise, if her strength is leadership (visioning, innovation, diplomacy, and strategy) then she should have good managers in her leadership team. If they are equally strong in both realms of management and leadership, they should still build a team that will share the load and offer different perspectives. 
Therefore, more often than not, be both creative and critical, if it’s possible! The CIO of today must be able to transition confidently between the strategic and tactical. It is critical to position oneself to be able to understand the business and become a trusted and strategic business adviser. However, results are what matter most to those running the business groups which require a collaborative and creative approach to leverage strengths and offset weaknesses along with skilled and inspired staff who have clear direction on the call to action and how that work is meeting company objectives like driving top-line revenue. 

Monday, February 25, 2013

EA’s Five Key Success Factors

Though it might be tricky to define EA success and measure (and evaluate) EA success because so many of the facets of EA are very difficult to measure.

Typically EA team is responsible for strategy/planning, innovation, and governance. It should be able to provide guidance, standards, principles, and roadmaps to anyone within the enterprise. However, due to the fact that EA in nature is multi-dimensional, how and what could be used to define the success of EA?

1.    Strategic Value

Enterprise starts looking at you for these activities/guidance, then you are successful in your EA mission. EA should be able to do all these effectively without impacting ongoing projects. EA should be able to provide short-term/tactical and long-term/strategic direction to the enterprise and executives' vision
he best measure of success for any EA effort would be for the enterprise to cost-effectively achieve its strategic goals. Of course, this is a long term measure in most cases. When

- One could address success as the successful implementation of the organizational capabilities to support strategic intent. This would include the generation of the roadmaps across all architectural domains to supply the organization with timelines and milestones to measure progress towards the enablement of the desired future state.

- The EA programs would be successful if it continues to support the evolving business strategies. It may be reducing costs in one year, gearing for growth the next, and a successful merger after that. Basically, the metrics for EA change as business strategy changes. Enterprise Architecture is successful when it is enabling strategic goals cascade and the stakeholder needs, based on their drivers are being met

2. Cultural Value

Victory can be declared when EA becomes essential to the culture of the organization; Strategic planners won't start their meetings until they have access to their favorite EA artifacts

-  Enterprise Architecture, as a business enabler has incontrovertibly demonstrated that it has enabled the enterprise to meet the goals that satisfy stakeholder drivers. This has been done by the creation, use, storage and re-use of value-adding artifacts and the adoption and adaptation of industry-standard leading practices.

- It needs to be defined how EA can enable stakeholders to deliver on their commitments, and translate these into actionable goals for the departments within the enterprise. Apart from increasing profitability. "EA success" should be defined and connected to people's issues. For example, the balance of expectations, the integration of satisfactions, the consensuses of stakeholders, etc. 

-  EA is being actively used by the enterprise (senior leadership, LOB's, architects etc.) and helping with swifter strategic/business decisions. In addition, EA is helping pick the right initiatives/programs and also aiding in swifter execution of changes to new business processes and/or technology solutions 

3.    Economical Value

In the short term, it is looking at how well the enterprise is progressing towards those goals and how well the organization is operating as it moves forward. Many people will try and throw out ROI measures and other cost centric yardsticks, but the reality is that cost is only one part of the equation with EA. EA efforts do attempt to help keep costs under control, but the focus of EA is not about cost reduction. It is about helping the enterprise achieve its goals in the most efficient way, even if that does mean spending more money to do so.

-   EA is successful when the cost of applying EA to a problem is recovered in the product. That cost could be revenue, reputation, legal issue avoidance, cost savings, etc., but if EA costs more than its benefits, then it has failed, via leveraging EA practice, the business can manage investment with a higher percentage of success rate or ROI.
-    A successful EA program should yield the following benefits:
      - Shorter time to market
      - Avoiding re-implementation costs
      - Avoiding overhead due to duplicate business processes and systems supporting those processes
      - Cost savings due to operational efficiencies
- EA being kept up-to-date to ensure its continued relevance 

-  Balanced Scorecard approach is good when defining a range of indicators as there can be no direct measure of what would have happened if you weren't there doing things, adding value, influencing others, etc.

4. Design Value

EA is an architectural design piece of how the organization exists and operates to create value for both stakeholders and end customers. It LITERALLY maps out how the perspective needs are delivered through Governance, Strategy, Management, Compliance, Risk, Process, Performance Management, Reporting and Continual Improvement work together as ONE system to deliver on Vision and Mission, Purpose and Goals. Indicators of success, therefore, are not singular and must primarily be based on what the organization is trying to achieve - did we do what we wanted to do?

- Qualitative indicators such as a staff understanding and commitment to the strategic intent of the organization (organizational alignment); seamless processes (versus silos); intuitive access to information; context for what each person is doing in their daily tasks at wherever they are in the organization (CEO to the juniors) and so on. Quantitative measures relating to again what the organization strategically planned to achieve. Isn't success relative to what we wanted to achieve for our respective stakeholders?

- Outside-in View: One transformation facing business and EA as well is from inside-out view to outside-in, in order to build up a customer-centric organization, so EA's success is based on end user's overall customer experience, overall business's digital capabilities. 

-  EA designs in pursuit of cascaded goals: Isn't EA about enabling change by allowing fast analysis and correction of up and downstream impacts of a change? If an organization doesn't change at all, then (apart from the fact that the organization is about to fail) they don't need someone to define their EA. Enterprise Architecture is about ensuring the data, information, applications, and infrastructure is managed end-to-end in the pursuit of these cascaded goals.

5.   Shared Value

EA sometimes acts like a great leader, leading from behind, when the work is done, they (business) think they do on their own, EA needs to share the credit and blame with business:
-     A factor that really complicates the direct measurement of EA impacts is the fact that like any other strategy, EA is only as effective as the implementation. Even if EA chalks out the best possible policies, faulty implementation can negate it all. This makes implementation governance a CSF for successful EA.

-  the side effect of all this is muddying of the metrics. When successful, EA has to share credit with business strategy as well as implementation. It becomes hard to get all credit that the program may deserve.

-  Bureaucracy and redundancy can be measured by the savings in manpower and more efficient processes. Potential and opportunities and new technologies/markets should be considered even though these are more challenging to measure. EA and cross-functional teams should work collaboratively to enforce business capabilities, also measure results in a reasonable way. 

Though it might be tricky to define EA success and measure (and evaluate) EA success because so many of the facets of EA are very difficult to measure. Still, one can only manage what it’s being measured, EA success need be objective. Success is what the enterprise stakeholders and customers define based on their drivers, then translate it into enterprise goals, upon which all other business goals are set and achieved.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Are 'Risk Management' and 'Strategy Management' different Concepts?

The quality strategy is about making the right decision at the right time which requires quality information.

From Wikipedia: “Strategy is a general, undetailed plan of action, encompassing a long period of time, to achieve a complicated goal.”, while “Risk management is the identification, assessment, and prioritization of risks followed by coordinated and economical application of resources to minimize, monitor, and control the probability and/or impact of unfortunate events or to maximize the realization of strategy.”

So while they intersect, Risk Management and Strategy Management are not the same. If the strategy is like GPS, will risk management just like brake?

1.   A good Strategy vs. An Effective Risk Management (RM)

The quality strategy is about making the right decision at the right time which requires quality information. It's all about being efficient and effective. The ability to influence, initiate and manage change is dependent on organizational culture.
  • A Quality Strategy includes RM guideline: A good strategy includes a set of choices, a comprehensive guideline, a series of actions, and a right set of metrics to measure result. Understanding business risks and addressing them is part of Strategy. One also has to identify where the risks are within the strategy, particularly what factors may keep you from executing the strategy. But Strategy is more than risk management, it really identifying what it is you want to do and how you want to do it An effective RM practice will make strategy closer to reality; A quality strategy is dependent on sound risk management practice
  • An Effective RM has strategic Dots: Risk management is also not just about risk mitigation, every risk has opportunities (which leads to new strategy), from risk control to risk resilience , and then, to risk intelligence, risk management has strategic dots need be connected. Risk should be seen in a much more positive light as it creates many opportunities for those that wish to see beyond a defensive response. Those that see risk defensively and with pessimism are more likely to avoid risk management altogether, but when they do often, risks are overstated and cause paralysis. Those that take a very objective and pragmatic view of risk are more often than not the ones who come up with imaginative and innovative ways to turn it to their advantage. Good risk managers see that risk can provide very exciting opportunities.
  • A strategy is to plan inevitable, while RM is to prepare for inevitable: Strategy Management is a bit of a misnomer. "Management" is the process of orchestrating inputs towards outputs, whereas "Strategy" is the approach taken to achieve the outputs. Management comes after Strategy, as Strategy defines the course to be navigated while management ensures the organization stays on the course. Of course, you could define "Strategy Management" as the process of developing, communicating and updating the Strategy, but this is not the same as the Strategy itself, but rather the governance of the organizational process around the Strategy.  

2. Strategy is Management Practice, Risk Management is Governance Discipline 

You can determine and 'manage' a strategy without risk management (albeit you'll be relying on luck over good business acumen) but you can't effectively manage risk without knowing the strategy.

  • Strategy planning is usually a management practice, and risk management is governance discipline, they have interdependent relationship: On one side, they need be managed independently at higher level, such as executive team crafts strategy, but board oversees risk/governance, on the other side, they are not completely silo, should always be interactive, communicative and mutually enforce with either other at operational level, to ensure business effectiveness.
  • The strategy should balance the creation/maintenance/maximization of value against risk. Strategy and RM are different management disciplines, but correlate and enforce with each other; strategy tends to be more of a top-down construct while risk management needs to operate in a complete cycle at all levels of the organization. Because without good risk management, the opportunities which it creates cannot be properly transferred into value. Good governance will ensure the correct forum at the right level will discuss this balance and propel the right information up into the decision-making levels so that to best strategy can evolve. 
  • Trying to merge Strategy and Risk into a single amorphous activity is a recipe for chaos: Businesses need to separate the activities pertaining to strategic goals, from those which mitigate risks; otherwise, you might be bogged down in the process when trying to reach these goals. Risk Management applies also at lower levels than strategic. Good project planning assesses project risks and mitigates the known risks by planning for them. A project may be the result of the strategy, but project planning is not strategy planning. Keeping Strategy and Risk separate enables organizations to be more efficient and responsive. 

3. RM Mechanism Embedded into Key Processes for Execution

A good strategy planning always includes execution as part of the strategy, and risk management mechanism should be well embedded into business process for execution. In addition, risk management is not only for bottom line, statistically, the organizations with better GRC management discipline outperform competitors significantly, so strategy and risk management does have inter-related structure to mutual enforce with each other

  • Build an embedded Risk Management: An embedded Risk Management system will identify right down to the lowest level in the business all the risks the business has and these will be scored and passed upwards - each layer of management adding their bit and consolidating those below them until you have a top level Risk Register which the board should consider regularly and frequently alongside its appraisal of progress towards the strategic goal.  
  • How the Feedback loops should be handled: From a purely theoretical standpoint, it is easy to distinguish between the two as methodologies and map where the overlaps should exist and how the feedback loops should be handled. What happens when one or both are not implemented correctly. For example, what happens to strategy when a risk is overstated or incorrectly understood because the risk management methodology is poor? 
  • Prepare for the worst case scenarios: Worst scenarios are where risks are identified but overridden by cost, a lower priority or failure to recognize the cumulative impact of a number of low priority/low impact eventsIssues become inevitable, resulting in delays and cost blowouts. Generally, these scenarios would be brought about by the need for rapid change to improve financial / service performance (in an environment where under-performance was entrenched) or where financial performance has a higher focus / priority than operations. 
Therefore, a good strategy management needs to incorporate a solid Risk Management plan, however, risk management is a different concept which spans the organization from business operations to technology. Risk Management, in the context of Strategy Management, is how many obstacles and opportunities affect journey from A to B. 

Friday, February 22, 2013

BPM’s Best Way: Top-Down or Bottom-Up

An organization that has the ability to learn and adapt at several levels will move the whole BPM transformation forward.
There’s about 70% of BPM projects fail statistically, and there are varies of causes to make such project “out of control”, so what is the best way to manage BPM? Top-down, Bottom-Up, Middle-Out, System-wide  Inside-out or Outside-In?

1.    Top Down Approach 

Theoretically, you start top down as you have to understand business objectives and understand key capabilities to achieve the business strategy. With this you build the processes that can plug and play into delivery + support of the business to consumers or businesses.

  • The choice to manage your organization by process is what some people call being strategic to perceive big picture first.That is the meaning of top-down. Without the inclusion of a “top down” framework, there is no consensus on what pieces to look for, which pieces are more important, or how to interpret the overall solution.
  • So top down initiatives are as some kind of guide for the (BPM) trip an organization will make. If there is no guide people will walk but where to? If there is a shouting guide that cannot explain where we go, people refuse to walk. Especially for the complex problems with a top down approach results in more holistic thinking and planning. 

2. Bottom Up Approach 

But in reality, are the businesses all over the map with their value propositions, internal process maturities, what the market is doing or forcing on the business, financial pressures etc.... Thus, it can't always afford top down or to wait for top down to be done. As top-down alone is just a guide, so bottom up is needed to walk the talk. The key is to balance gratuitous central control vs. renegade business unit .

  • Start small, think big: Putting aside those organizations that have built top down and have the strategic roadmap, however, not everybody has the luxury of starting with top down nor the luxury of time so the focus shifts to tactical problems,  thus bottom up begins. Majority of an organization's processes are fairly simple in nature—the impetus being a request from an end-user—User A needs this, the request needs to go to User B for approval, and once it's approved,  it's sent to User C to fulfill. Bottom up with smaller department wins allows for users to get used to a system, provide feedback, leverage best practices and make improvements before moving enterprise wide. Not to mention providing some immediate ROI. 
  • Innovation is key factor from a bottom up approach: Sometimes fixing a local and tactical problem reveals a new and innovative way for the business as a whole,  process innovation is emerging trend in BPM efforts. 

3.  Mixed, System-Wide, Inside-out & Outside-In Approach 

For analyzing the problem, top-down; for customization of the BPMS installation, bottom-up. Or top down is to gain an overview of the operation, structure and processes. Follow this with bottom up to understand how operations currently happen and then a mixture of bottom up with top down to understand perspectives on how operations should happen:

  • Mixed approach: Many organizations do them simultaneously as BPM solutions and BPMS platform's deployment usually give each other context. That is, these efforts are a discovery process into the organization itself and so you need the macro and the micro views. The process model(s) as you're drilling down from 20,000' to 200' inevitably make themselves known and that, in turn, iterative and incremental here, helps you build those tactical solutions that build out to that strategic end-state.  In fact, the organizations take parallel paths to have better success rate for BPM: top down and bottom up, and learn how to bring them together at certain points (middle-out)  to measure, align/deploy, and recalibrate. 
  • Top-Down is one way to look at things, but a better label might be 'system-wide': It's critical to account for cross-cutting concerns (master data, governance, value chain integration, etc.). A 'bottom-up'  approach might be parochial by design, lacks system-wide perspective; it leads to process silos that make future integration more difficult. 
  • 'Outside-In' which is pushed by a whole community as an effort to focus on customer interactions or touch points?  Or 'Inside-Out' which can be understood as looking at it from a business management perspective. 
  • Business Transparency: Shall we approach it from ALL SIDES at all times? In principle that is correct, but the best term to describe it is BUSINESS TRANSPARENCY with adaptability / interoperability. What are the concepts that define the processes to be executed?
Top-down: business objectives, value streams
Inside-out: operational targets and process goals
Outside-In: customer perception and experience
Bottom-Up: people knowledge and innovation

Weather there’s best way or not, but always have the right way to do BPM: All along the way, make progress using your expertise to translate between the lines and ensure you exceed objectives while providing future analysis that will give additional real return on BPM investment financially and motivationally. 

Metaphorically, the puzzle analogy is a pretty good description of the difficulty we face in BPM. The puzzle pieces are processes, information and data that an organization has been collecting for years. Each month, new statistical information, data or processes are collected and analyzed, creating additional puzzle pieces. Sometimes the data collected will contradict the data from another source, and because it can be interpreted in different ways, there will always be disagreement. Adaptability/ interoperability are major concerns and the real nut to crack. Putting a puzzle together requires trying different pieces, being flexible and willing to put a piece aside to find another more appropriate piece. There are different areas of the puzzle that will come together sooner than other parts. An organization that has the ability to learn and adapt at several levels will move the whole BPM transformation forward.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

What’s your Organization’s Digital IQ?

Digital IQ is a measure of how well companies understand the value of technology and weave it into the fabric of their organization.

PwC’s recently released annual Digital IQ survey of nearly 500 business and technology executives in the United States confirms that there is a fundamental transformation of how IT are used within the firm and in the marketplace.

1.    What is digital IQ? 

Digital IQ is a measure of how well companies understand the value of technology and weave it into the fabric of their organization.

An outside-in perspective is required to balance traditional thinking and digital pondering. Better serving today’s digitally empowered customer, employees, and business partners will mean turning your organization inside out to let in the outside, market-driven trends being seeing in the global marketplace. Identified outside-in architecture, four technology components, and three process components of the digital enterprise that affect how executives need to rethink their strategies

  • New Digital Thinking
1) Everyone is mobile consumer
2) Social media is a critical data source
3) Moving business application to cloud can make firm more competitive
4) Gain greater insight from business data by working from outside in

  • Technology components
1) Mobility
2) Social media
3) Cloud
4) BI

  • Process components
1) Strategic planning
2) Mobilization
3) Roadmap execution

2. How Can Business Raise Digital IQ? 

Raising organization’s digital IQ — that is, the way companies leverage digital technology and channels to meet customer needs as well as the needs of employees and business partners,  will help you take full advantage of many of the recent changes in the global economy.

Growing digital IQ entails more than merely adopting the latest tools or having a large IT budget; it is about integrating technology into the way a company plans, innovates, measures results, interacts with customers and employees, and ultimately creates value.

Digital IQ doesn’t improve without an improvement in processes. From series of surveys, that top performers not only put IT at the heart of their strategies, they ensure that senior management actively helps to drive the mobilization and execution of those plans.

  • Mobile: To raise the firm’s digital IQ, executives should take a sharper focus on how to engage and support customers on their mobile devices. Put greater emphasis on creating mobile solutions for customers. Remember that your employees are mobile customers, too. 
  • Social: The best companies integrate social media into their interactions with all their stakeholders 
  • Cloud: Many firms are already starting to think about their next platform restructuring, and where their core systems will be managed. The cloud is increasingly an important part of the discussions. 
  • Data Analysis: Top performers understand that data is currency in today’s marketplace. As a result, they are far more likely to be investing heavily in this area. 
In order to raise the digital IQ, executives should begin by asking the following questions:
1) Are you prepared for the current and next generations of customer and employees, who are naturally adept with mobile devices?
2)  Do you have a social media strategy that extends past the marketing and sales functions? Customers can provide a wealth of information not on how you can improve your products and services. Social media should also play a role in corporate knowledge management and collaboration.
3) Have you considered the role cloud computing will play in your next application re-platforming?
4) What sources of external information would most improve decision making and drive critical insight into operations? Many firms still rely too heavily on only their internal data.
5) At what point in the strategic planning process does IT enter the discussion? Firms that put IT and its leaders at the heart of their strategies are more likely to be successful.
6) How much effort is applied to mapping out the process for and determining who will lead the execution of firm’s strategy? Too many companies skip this critical stage in the process.
7) Do your parameters for successful execution include periodic measurement and a post-rollout assessment of the overall value realized by the business? Good project management is useless if initiatives do not provide measurable improvements.

3.    CIOs’ Digital Leadership 

But improving digital IQ means more than a technology upgrade; it requires significant changes in leadership thinking and corporate culture. Chief information officers (CIOs) are uniquely positioned to lead their organizations in the complex work of turning them inside out. IT organizations that can effectively serve both their customers and their firm, deliver projects on time and on the budget, and distill mountains of bits into meaningful insights are as rare as ever. In this way, IT ability to drive business value is becoming more — not less — differentiated. Top performers have following characteristics:

  • Integrate IT leaders in the strategic planning process. Creating a strategic plan is the first step in implementing any sort of large-scale corporate effort. Mobilizing the strategy is the critical but often forgotten catalyst for effective, sustainable change. In the mobilization stage, executives set plans and budgets against the overall strategy, creating a blueprint for how the strategy will be brought to life. 
  • The Innovative CIO, not surprisingly, top-performing companies are more likely than the rest of those polled to say that CIOs need extensive leadership abilities, they are the critical part of the leadership team and need to drive cultural change as well as bottom-line growth. The most important skill for the CIO is the ability to be an innovative thinker and apply IT to solve relevant industry and business issues. CIOs at top business performers are more likely to have very strong relationships with other C-suite executives as well as business unit leaders. 
  • CIOs need to make sure they have a carefully thought-out road map before implementing any large-scale initiative. Chasing these new demands means that CIOs must be excellent at managing the internal IT, but also excel at mobilizing new plans into action. The significant difference between top performers and the overall survey set further underscores that firms that are highly IT-enabled are better able to plan and execute effectively.
Hence, the organization's digital IQ is dependent on how smart it can process and leverage information in decision making; how responsive it can adapt to the increasing speed of changes; how well it can delight customers and how its employees feel engaged, and how capable it can drive the business's digital transformation.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Three IT Mentalities Enlarging Digital Gaps

Business Fails IT, just like IT Fails Business.

Generally speaking, the job of a CIO has three parts: The first part is IT leadership. The task is to identify and recommend the latest technology trends that provide strategic value for businesses. This is probably the most forward-looking part to improve IT maturity. The second part is their representation on the executive staff, the job is to respond to requests from other executives for solutions to business problems and provide input into strategic planning. The third part is the management of their organization. The task is to improve operations to reduce the burden on the company while trying to stay current with ever-changing technologies. That includes reducing costs, improving systems, streamlining processes and providing continually expanding services. However, in reality, with resources restriction or culture inertia, very few CIOs can do all of them extremely well. Here are three IT mentalities:

1.    Keep the Light On: Don’t fix what isn't Broken

  • Maintaining “Status Quo” mentality: Most of IT organization would prefer to stay within their comfort zone, rely on their current vendors and wait for change, rather than proactively inviting change. rarely consider how innovations would support the business, rather they are concerned with personal agenda and maintaining the status quo. With these variables in mind, CIOs may not seek outside of their current toolset or established relationships. If that were the situation, then isn't a 'don't fix what isn't broken' perspective an inherent roadblock? 
  • Businesses fail IT, just like IT fails businesses: Fair to say, you shouldn’t just blame on IT, there are living examples in organizations where innovation from IT was not embraced by the business, relegating IT to a largely operational support role. and IT continues to stay in the comfort zone to react as a supporting function, many CIOs are faced with conflicting goals on a regular basis. The budgets are never large enough and there are never enough resources for all of the projects, thus, they can’t prioritize and assign limited resource wisely; or work collaboratively to plan, manage, govern and measure projects. In addition, if no one really cares about IT or business fails IT in a certain way, then IT may just lose the drive to improve performance. 
  • An effective CIO should lead via the right metrics that substantiate the ROI. If something is not broken, should you invest in making it better, the business case would be: Is it going to help the business (in terms of revenue, internal or external customer satisfaction, etc..) for short term & long term? And shall you justify the resources and cost to enhance it? 
If “keeping the light on” is the “normal” IT mentality, then, businesses need to keep alarmed, How do you improve performance, reduce costs, optimize operations and basically evolve as a business if  IT adopts a "don't fix what isn't broken" approach, you will be left in the dust, and companies will stagnate whilst others push forward.  

2. Run -Fixing the Symptom through Band-Aid Approach

This second mentality is more active, with “running” attitude; however, it’s still more about short-term focus, fix the symptom by band-aid approach, instead of driving long-term transformation. 

  • Business culture does play a role in IT attitude on long term vs. short term perspective, or reactive vs. proactive mode: What does the business want from IT and how is IT positioned to deliver it? Many times, hunting for root cause takes a holistic approach and need breakdown silo processes. If the CIO doesn’t have a seat at a big table to create strategy or functional executives hold silo thinking; or if leadership teams do not collaborate as a whole, but act as the sum of pieces, unhealthily compete with each other internally about budgeting, resources, credit, and blames, then, the CIO as "influential" role may turn to be second class, that stifles innovation, IT perhaps just takes “shortcut” with band-aid solution, instead of having transformational mindsets, CIOs could be runners, but not change agents. 
  • CIOs face various challenges: If CIOs are not able to make any dent within the executive board, then IT is just acting in the reactive mode. Their proactive solutions will not get enough traction in most cases. Some CIOs are extremely risk-averse and at the end of the day, they can frustrate their internal staff and business process owners by not delivering much in value-based solutions. Such “fixing symptom” mentality is still complacent, short-sighted and too “ordinary.” The key point is: CIOs should have know-how attitude about business, they are able to demonstrate the full reasoning behind the proposal, in order to shift to proactive mode smoothly; and that needs a strong team, a full understanding of the business and how IT underpins all elements of it.

3. Transform -Diagnose the Root Cause with a Long-Term Perspective

At such high mature level, IT does show more character, creativity and “craziness” to think differently, performs as the business growth engine, and CIOs play as change agents.

  • It takes insight and strategy to think long-term: Proactive IT approach is required to achieve business value and innovation.  CIOs have to know and understand the business, that knowledge will make you a valuable asset to the company. With that knowledge, CIOs can drive innovation and strategy, not just implement it. 
  • It takes courage to make changes proactively: Specifically, when the technology presents a paradigm shift in the way in which things have been done for over decades. One can imagine making a case for change would take courage and commitment, it would mean putting one's neck on the line, wouldn't it? 
  • It takes methodology and governance disciplines to drive changes. It would require members of both the technology & business teams to work collaboratively to set up business goals and effectively & efficiently standardize processes of due diligence, and a clear and constant initiative to improve and grow businesses, IT will spend the high percentage of time & resource to initiate value-driven projects. For example: exploring Cloud solutions, piloting new technologies or processes, application modernization projects, scaling up the integrated digital platform, improving business’s analytical capabilities, prioritizing the projects with potential to have slightly longer-term impacts on the business. 
Therefore, there are different styles of mentality and methodology to run IT today, actions depend on maturity, competition, and customer expectations, but overall, proactive mode is an optimal mentality for long run, forward-looking organizations need to empower their CIOs, also support their IT with collaborative attitude, in order to build up high performance, high mature businesses.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Contemplation at Copernicus’s Birthday: The Spirit of Thinking Differently

With Nicolaus Copernicus being featured in today’s Google doodle to celebrate his 540th birthday,  it leads all of us to think more carefully about every supposed fact, and admire those who question the rules or challenge the authority, as Copernicus’s iconoclastic success in discovering that the Earth is actually circling the Sun, and what had been thought–that the Earth was at the center of the Universe–was wrong.

Though we may understand more about Universe than five centuries ago, still, what we know, compare to what we don’t know is a tip of iceberg. How hard could it be to solve a giant jigsaw puzzle of nature?  Most complex ideas before they become scientifically validated, they appear in abstraction. There is some mystical-ness when they first appear.

The art or science, what is the nature of our universe, here are a tale of another two contemporary geniuses:

Authenticating Pollock Paintings Using Fractal Geometry: his masterpiece Blue Poles: Number 11, 1952 by rolling a large canvas across the floor of his windswept barn and dripping fluid paint from an old can with a wooden stick. Given that Pollock's paintings are often described as 'organic', the obvious step towards identifying the 'hand' of Pollock is to take the pattern analysis techniques used to identify fractals in Nature's scenery and apply the same process to Pollock's canvases.

But if Pollock's swirls of paint are indeed a celebration of Nature's organic shapes, what shapes would these be? What geometry do organic shapes belong to?  Do objects of Nature, such as trees and clouds, have an underlying pattern, or are they 'patternless' - a disordered mess of randomness?  Although natural systems appeared to be disordered, hidden underneath was a remarkably subtle form of order. This behavior was labeled as chaotic and an area of study called chaos theory was born to understand Nature's dynamics.

Mandelbrot’ fractal theory : Pollock's work had huge influence on Mandelbrot (great mathematician). Benoit B. Mandelbrot (November 1924 – 14 October 2010) was a Polish-born, French and American mathematician, noted for developing a "theory of roughness" in nature and the field of fractal geometry to help prove it, which included coining the word "fractal". He later created the Mandelbrot set of intricate, never-ending fractal shapes, named in his honor. In 1975, Mandelbrot coined the term fractal to describe these structures and first published his ideas in 1975, and later translated, Fractals: Form, Chance and Dimension.

Mandelbrot ended up doing a great piece of science and identifying a much stronger and more fundamental idea—put simply, that there are some geometric shapes, which he called "fractals", that are equally "rough" at all scales. No matter how close you look, they never get simpler, much as the section of a rocky coastline you can see at your feet looks just as jagged as the stretch you can see from space.Many of Nature's patterns have been shown to be fractal. Examples include coastlines, clouds, flames, lightning, trees and mountain profiles. Fractals are referred to as a new geometry because the patterns look nothing like traditional Euclidean shapes. In contrast to the smoothness of artificial shapes, fractals consist of patterns that recur on finer and finer magnifications, building up shapes of immense complexity.

So both the artist and scientist observed how the pluralistic world would - emerge (by generative design, pattern) - that can only be defined by fractals, in which cartesian approaches fails. Will the growing interplay of art and science transcend to the next level of cognizant of the world, the nature, and our infinite Universe?

We are all the bits and bytes, signals and notes of our Universe, we may also discover or co-paint the information masterpiece we can or can’t understand, may Copernicus’s spirit of questioning inspire our curiosity and encourage us to think differently.