Wednesday, March 25, 2015

What are CIOs’ Top Challenges

An IT organization with high-maturity not only adapts to the changes but drives digital transformation in their company.

Due to the changing nature of technologies, CIOs seem to be always in the “hot seat” in the face of increasing business demand, talent shortage, budget limitation or numerous critics from businesses. Now, information is permeating into every corner of business, what technology is expected to do has changed significantly over recent years, although every company has its own circumstances, overall speaking, what are the common challenges facing today’s IT organizations, how can CIOs leverage resources to stay focus, and continually improve IT agility and maturity, to become an integral part of business?

The "IT Fundamental": “Keep the lights on,” is always fundamental for running IT smoothly. IT fundamentals should consist ONLY of responsibility for IT infrastructure, the most important data standards, overarched by IT governance. Many other responsibilities require a business justification. However, even IT infrastructure is on the way for digital transformation. Digital IT shifts from “T” (hardware technological box) driven- to “I”- information oriented; from monolithic to mosaic style; from “built to last” to “designed for change.”

Bimodal IT: Part of the CIO's role is to run IT as a business enabler for delivering the business objectives and strategies. However, from industry surveys, the traditional IT running at industrial speed is too slow to adapt to the rapid changes, their business partners sometimes even think IT is an “obstacle” to get things done. Because traditional IT is more often running as a “controller,” rather than an enabler, leave their business users to feel frustrated, or even bypass IT and go to the “shadow IT.” Now, digital technologies (SMAC) provide the new opportunities to run faster, nimble, resilient IT, in many legacy companies, they start to run bi-modal IT by leveraging two speeds - the industrial speed to keep the light on; and the digital speed to accelerate IT transformation.

Decision Effectiveness: The future will turn to those CIOs who will have to find a way via leveraging the advanced analytics to make the right decisions based on low-certainty and over-complexity, in the world with essentially exponential changes, while disruptive technology and business-fueled pressure are turning up the heat on CIOs. In most of the organizations, IT is also the data steward that takes charge of the business’s information management lifecycle. However, information is the means to the end, not the end, the end is to abstract insight/foresight from data, to ensure the decisions can be made by the right people with the right information at the right time.  

Cost optimization: Instead of just cost-cutting, IT needs to have a long-term perspective of cost optimization via consolidation, modernization, and integration. Thinking outside the box though delivers far better results. First, the best time to lower legacy cost is at the time of the technology replacement or upgrade. Look for a replacement that offers the automation, orchestration or virtualization benefits. Increase visibility and transparency of the legacy environment through big data collection; this will provide insight into how to improve efficiency, reduce errors, and optimize costs.

IT Cloudification: Many IT organizations are also on the way to cloudification, you can reduce the legacy costs through automation and cloud-based orchestration. This frees up the people maintaining the systems to focus on more value-add activities. Other approaches are using a standardized modular approach to the infrastructure reducing the differing types of configuration items, applying virtualization and building the infrastructure additional services via leveraging hybrid cloud solution. The very purpose of going to the cloud is not just for cost efficiency, but for IT agility and maturity.  

IT talent with learning agility: With emergent Agile methodology and DevOps approach, IT has to break down the silo thinking, not only enforce communication within itself but also harness cross-functional collaboration. IT professionals can not continue to stay in their own “comfort zone,” and speak their own jargon business people cannot understand, they have to be in the proactively learning mode to know their division, and understand their business better, because nowadays, every IT project is business project, every line of code should convey business value if possible, and the project delivery cycle is significantly shortened, thanks for Agile principles & practices. it’s not just quantity, but the quality which counts for better performance.

Innovation, Innovation, Innovation: Last, but not least, IT has to shift from a back-office support function to a business innovation engine. Because more often than not, technologies are the innovation disruptor, and the information is the most invaluable assets in the organization besides talent. The "new" IT workforce needs to be able to self-learn and be creative enough, investigate new technologies and software, to be curious about how they can blend and integrate different technologies and solutions, not as technical challenges, but for achieving business value and customer delight.

To put simply, an IT organization with high-maturity not only adapts to the changes but drives digital transformation in their company. Because CIOs are in a unique position to oversee business processes and key capabilities, they should play the role as “change agent,” to build the culture of innovation via orchestrating people, process, and technology seamlessly, and they are also playing the pivotal role in transforming their organizations into digital master.


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