Friday, June 13, 2014

CIO Must Go Digital, Like a Pro

CIOs must go digital, like a pro, to run IT as an innovation engine and software startup, to speed up and lift up IT maturity

Due to the changing nature and continuous disruption of information and technology in business nowadays, CIOs seem to be always at hot seat, the saying about the demise of the internal IT has been around for years, the fact is that because of the pervasiveness of technology within the enterprise and radical digital transformation facing in majority of organizations today, there is now a greater need for CIOs to understand business drivers and apply digital technology to speed up IT and build business competitive capabilities. So CIOs must go digital, like a Pro!

CIOs need to be a digital strategist: The landscape for all executive roles constantly change, but the pace of change has been felt the most in areas of IT, marketing, and operations. Expectations from individual or business consumers outstrip the readiness of most organizations. At the industrial era, the pace of change was more predictable and planning for execution was the focus. Now, everything requires shorter term planning without giving up the strategic endgame. Technology is more often the big influencer of business strategy and the creative driver of business innovation. At forward-looking organizations, indeed, CIOs are empowered to be closer to the top of the pyramid and co-make business strategy, and IT needs to be positioned beyond as a service provider, more as a solution advisor and business partner.  

Shift “I” from infrastructure focus to intelligence, integration, and innovation driven: Once you change what the "I" stands for, more focus on intelligence, integration or Innovation, it becomes clearer where the CIO needs to focus in order to move past being just another commodity provider of services. The business needs infrastructure and communications to function without having to think about it. Once the basics are under control and humming along, the IT group can focus on driving, enabling and orchestrating business change and digital transformation in the areas of integration of best-of-breed tools/services and innovation in the overall strategy of the enterprise.

Fail fast, fail cheap and fail forward: Failure is the necessary experience and trial stone in digital transformation, but you have to learn from it very fast. The truth is transformations fail all the time at an operating level, even if the strategic vision is right, but for a variety of reasons. Developing new software systems is like “paving the cowpaths.” One could map the flow of information to a problem domain, paint a picture of the inefficiencies, suggest changes to business processes, in addition to automation, and be told “we don’t know why we do things that way, but we always have so we are sticking to it.’ Thus, to improve change success rate, business and IT have to communicate iteratively and collaborate seamlessly, one of the very reason for digital transformation is to eliminate silo and improve business agility.

Digital means business: The IT is not a technical challenge; it is a business management challenge. There is quality management in place, vendors learned to create products actually working. The big thing is how to get a competitive advantage and invest the budgeted dollars the way which leverages the best of the corporate strategy. As business scenarios are highly dynamic in most of the sectors, and adaptability to this becomes a challenge. Thus, to keep the momentum going, the expectation set out of any IT project are very high. Growing technological trends have made the role of CIO very challenging. How can the CIO/CTO bridge the gaps to eliminate this misconception? In essence, the overall problem is having an appropriate balance of leadership, technical, management/business, industry, and interpersonal skills. Another consideration is ensuring that the non-IT executives have an appropriate understanding of IT (governance, initiative sponsor/champion, value metrics, skills, emerging technology) and what their role needs to be.

Digital synchronization: IT needs to be telling business about the opportunities and possibilities and that means IT needs to really understand the goals of the business and synchronize with business goals. Building the 'right' bridge between IT and business, closing the gap is about doing the basics right to synchronize business and IT and orchestrate digital symphony. One of the biggest challenges is designing an approach to technology asset management that is affordable and nimble enough to flex to the changing needs of business, especially with the growing array of digital platform and multi-choices of technology available to select.

CIOs must go digital, like a pro, to run IT as an innovation engine and software startup, to speed up and lift up IT maturity. 


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