Friday, November 22, 2013

A Change Agent IT

IT plays a pivotal role in driving the business's digital transformation.

With the emerging technology trends such as SMAC (Social, Mobile, Analytics, and Cloud) and IT consumerization & Internet of the Things, more often than not, IT plays a significant role in driving business changes, and leading organizations' digital transformation. Because the digital transformation is driven by technology; and not just by technology, but by user-driven technology. Sure, in today's world, technology is driving business transformation, unlike previous eras during which business transformation was driven by business ideas. This is a golden opportunity for CIOs to lead the way by enabling, governing and optimizing the consumer-driven technology that's going viral in the enterprise. But how to run IT as a change agent for business transformation. Here comes both opportunities and responsibility.

IT's Change Agenda: CIOs have to get the transformation agenda right to refine IT reputation. To put simply, IT faces an unprecedented opportunity to refine its reputation, also needs to take more responsibility as a true business partner. It is an opportunity to demonstrate the execution of responsibility. CIOs have to get the transformation agenda right and have access to resources (external and internal) to achieve the desired ROI. But without your peers' collaborating, the work will become much harder - to get as many people pulling in the same direction. And it is a big "responsibility," but one should also acknowledge that "opportunity" is concurrent. IT needs to proactively participate business conversations: Change is not for its own sake, every change needs to have a noble business purpose, and IT as a change agent needs to well engage business conversations. The CIO is at a unique position in business transformation and needs to handle it cautiously but firmly. It should be driven by business needs and goals rather than the IT requirement, and then it is easier to get peer collaboration. The transformation definitely needs technology to make it happen as today no business is independent of IT or rather IT has become now business technology.

Change leaders, agents, and champions: Identify change agent and customer champions as the lightning rod and empower them to take leadership in the thorny change journey. Business transformation should not be undertaken lightly because it must align diverse and divergent stakeholders' interests toward a common goal. The CIO needs to identify a champion as the lightning rod for the project. IT leaders/talent also need to possess business skills and change techniques to garner the influence needed to be effective. They are in a unique position because they can see the whole organization and should have the program skills to implement transformation successfully. The change agent IT needs to practice both leadership and follow-ship, depending on the circumstances. A CIO is a senior manager of the company/org they serve. As such, they must be able to learn and follow not only lead and coach. A CIO must also have the ability to see the ideas of others and transform them into action. A change agent IT should get a deeper understanding of the issues facing both internal customers and end customers as well, not just scratch the surface, but dig through the root causes. It is an IT responsibility to identify opportunities for business transformation wherever analysis and assessment indicate the potential benefits of transformation efforts.

Change Capabilities: IT can build two sets of competencies in order to become a change agent: 'Competitive necessities and competitive uniqueness,' in order to gain the currency of influence. CIOs and IT staff should take a lead role in identifying, assessing, designing, coordinating, implementing, and revising opportunities for transforming the business. IT will ultimately lead to recognition of the efforts by the executive peers, and thus the perception of the value of IT, in general, will receive greater esteem within the business and in the relevant industry & ecosystem. IT plays a change agent role in Business Transformation via systematic thinking and well thought-out planning, and for the CIO to shine, he/she really needs to evaluate the issues, do the due diligence, asks the right questions and pick the right software/hardware that can do the job. However, this might also be the pitfall for the CIO, because of baggage he/she carries, his/her business acumen and technical knowledge, and how well he/she can collaborate with vendors, stakeholders, and the internal IT people.

Change is not for its own sake, a clear vision, a systematic thinking and effective communication, the logical processes and exemplified change leadership are all the key success factors to overcome challenges and manage changes smoothly. Moving from order-taker IT to change agent IT, and leaping up from industrial speed to digital speed; there are significant opportunities and responsibilities for IT to do both what’s right and how to do it rightly for their organizations and our society.


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