Wednesday, March 25, 2015

How to Run an Innovative IT

The biggest source of innovation within a company is built on culture.

Modern IT continues to move up its maturity from a reactive helpdesk, back-office function into a proactive business partner and innovation engine. What are the tips and stories to create a culture of innovation? What are the innovation implications when IT leverages the Cloud model? How shall IT assess their partners for delivering innovative business solutions, should the business pay IT for being innovative thereby enabling business proactively?

The biggest source of innovation within a company is built on culture: Creating an "innovation culture" involves the good alignment of people, process, and technology, otherwise, it won’t sustain. For example, some organizations offer employees a certain percentage of free time to think and experiment with the new idea; and other companies build out a physical space with flexible rooms, a small team to manage it (they'd meet with business clients to establish goals), and guarded the room against being demoted to 'the cool meeting room.' Every innovative company experiments on their own ways to spark innovation.
Evaluate partners’ innovation capability: Assess business and technical partners not only through the normal lenses based on scope, on time and on-budget; but also evaluate their innovation capability and optimal attitude. With the mantra to run IT shifting from “doing more with less,” to “doing more with innovation,” IT will also request their partners to do the same. Defined projects are hard enough in such dynamic environment to keep within the scope, as they will, in some cases anticipate benefits that may not be part of the original delivery of the project, but be seen as a potential by-product, within the agreed budget. Where the innovation element comes to the fore, it's expected to be delivered as part of business as usual, and, therefore, provided with no additional cost. So as IT vendors, you should be aware of trends and upcoming innovations that are relevant to the projects you are about to take on.

Digital IT is a paradigm shift in role, responsibility, and attitude: The CIO role has never been about just managing the status quo, so the digital shift for IT in some industries is to be innovative with systems of engagement rather than systems of record. The available digital technology just makes innovation easier to do now than in the past - less costly, more easily accessible. IT now can leverage the cloud on-demand model to charge back or charge forward. IT- business alignment is shifting to IT-business engagement, and IT as an integral component of the business plays a more significant role in catalyzing business growth. However, besides top line contribution, IT shall keep the bottom line with the continued focus on being economically aware, all overheads are scrutinized but invest more resource for innovation.

Keep the balance of bottom line and innovation effort: If you can innovate across the business, regardless of which function you are involved in, be it IT, HR, Finance, etc, and then you can surely change the shape of what you deliver, not just how it's delivered. Any organization that can capitalize on innovations, be they in-house or externally derived and delivered, is going to be agiler, and ultimately more successful. Although those that put too much emphasis on innovation over delivery may well lose sight of the importance of balance and could inhibit the businesses ability to grow.

That all being said, running an innovative IT is not rocky science, but it takes collective attitude and aptitude, principles and practices, strategy and methodology. It is a digital transformation journey.  


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