Wednesday, February 25, 2015

How to Run IT as a Digital Forerunner

 IT organization just has to continuously reinvent itself to adapt to digital disruption. 

Due to the accelerating speed of business change and “disruptive” nature of digital technology, IT organizations just have to continually reinvent itself to adapt to the changes, and IT leaders also have to re-imagine their leadership influence and effectiveness. Is your IT organization as responsive as it needs to be for an organization growing as a Digital Master? How can CIOs provide digital leadership in the face of such digital disruption, to improve CIO tenure longevity and systematically driving the radical digital transformation of their organizations and beyond?

The main issue is the dynamic between running the IT utility and building a strategic IT: In most organizations, no matter how good a CIO is focusing on and influencing business innovation if the IT operations do not run flawlessly, their reputation, influence, and longevity within the organization will be impacted. Businesses also have to empower their CIOs to co-create strategy and encourage IT to become an innovation engine to gain business competency. Until organizations mentally and culturally separate the CIO role from IT operations, CIOs will be always undone by operational failures (in their control or not). To put simply, building a strategic IT is not just the CIO's job, but the collaborative effort of the whole senior executive team.

IT plays a fore-running role in digital transformation: Digital IT leaders, meaning companies that lead in digital transformation, are much more likely to have a senior executive team who understands digital opportunities and threats and who builds that into his/her strategy & communication. Digital IT is running at a much faster speed. Laggard companies often have a CXO team or board of directors who are comfortable doing things the old way and view IT as purely a support organization. It's very tough for the CIO to drive transformation if that is the case. And IT still runs in industrial speed in those organizations.

PeopleBack to the three fundamental elements in business: People, Process, and Technology. As IT leaders, you can ask two simple questions of every IT team member within your organization: What business value are you helping to create? Which business team members determine the priority of your work? If you don’t receive straightforward, consistent responses, you might have a problem with alignment, and accountability – most likely across IT and Business.

Process - Ask your team what you’re working on? When will business users be able to use it? What will you work on next? Same drill as before, if you don’t get clear and consistent replies – you have to work with the Business and IT areas within the area of concern. No matter whether this area’s Agile, Waterfall, the expectation is that all active and planned work is visible, including key schedule expectations, and project priority.

TechnologyFor the area of responsiveness and technology, the most important questions CIOs can ask their business partners are: Are there any tools your competitors use that you need to look at? Are your tools simple to use? These questions help show a willingness to engage people outside of IT on how best to solve a problem, or achieve an opportunity.

Don't forget about 'measurement': Make it easy and enjoyable to monitor the progress and outcome of initiatives. Demonstrating value is the first step, communicating that value publicly is just as important. Attempt to identify areas in which measurable improvements can be realized, in some instances these areas have been low-hanging fruit. What is often required, however, is participation from management across organizational/geographical boundaries, thinking outside of the box, break down the silo thinking with the abandonment of territorial issues? They must be combined with frequent measuring and demonstrating the value of IT to the C-level and other functional leaders.

The advice to improve the CIO tenure longevity: Make sure your operations work as flawlessly as possible first and build good relationships. Then you can get strategic for driving the long-term digital transformation.
1) Earn the business: Be the business. Become the business.
2) Build strong, value-creating relationships (partnerships) with the C-suite team, key customers, and business partners.
3) Build a strong team, with a strong bench.
4) Make IT more shared, integrated, flexible, secure, adaptable and speed up.
5) Learn from trusted sources and continuous learning
6) Of course, keep the lights on or nothing else matters.

With more and more organizations are on the inflection point of digital transformation; with the growing importance of data and technology that IT has the opportunity to not only be responsive but ultimately be strategic leaders capable of helping lines of business thrive by proactively driving digital transformation.


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