Monday, April 6, 2015

Is IT Organization as Responsive as it needs to Be?

A responsive IT means a lot of things for the digital transformation: speed, innovation, agility, integration, modernization, intelligence, value creation, and maturity, etc.

Without a doubt, IT is the most difficult and challenging part of a company due to its change nature. Nowadays, information is the lifeblood of an organization, and technology is more often the innovation driver. And the speed of change is accelerated at the digital age. So is your IT organization as responsive as it needs to be? What does the digital shift mean to the IT organization?

A responsive IT needs to be more innovative: The CIO role has never been about just managing the status quo. So the digital shift in some industries is to be innovative with systems of engagement rather than systems of record. In saying that, some industries have been also doing this for some time. The available technology just makes innovation easier to do now than in the past - less costly, more easily accessible, thanks to the "lightweight' digital technologies and mosaic style of the service model. So IT leaders have to continue self-checking. What business value are you helping to create? Which business team members determine the priority of your work? If you don’t receive straight forward, consistent responses – you have a problem with alignment and accountability – most likely across IT and Business.

IT needs to transform from a controller to an enabler: Many IT organizations still run in the industry mode -built to last, not agile enough to adapt to changes. So the business even complains that IT sometimes becomes the very obstacle to getting things done. In order to rebuild IT reputation as an enabler, instead of having overly rigid rules that most of the organization thinks is crap, instead of saying no, no, no and quoting policy, follow the agile principle, leverage the latest on-demand model, create customized products and solutions and sell them, also educate in the process to your coworkers (customers). Instead of saying not invented here, be quick to identify the illicit tools being used and create your own secure version within the company. To put simply, IT has to speed up, engage as a business partner, going beyond business-IT alignment.

IT needs to get empowered by senior executive team: The topic of “responsiveness” is to be one of the most challenging areas a senior IT Leader must address for their organization to be realized as successful. So the digital leaders (meaning companies that lead in digital transformation) are much more likely to have a C-level team who understands digital opportunities and threats and, who builds that into his or her strategy and communication. That leader will often, but not always deputize the CIO and internal IT to co-lead and execute the digital transformation. Laggard companies often have a C-level team or board of directors who are comfortable doing things the old way and view IT as a pure support organization. It's very tough for CIO to drive transformation if that is the case. That said, it is also critical to get the senior leadership team’s buy-in order to run a more responsive IT.

IT has to not only improve its own speed but also the overall organizational agility: The type of speed issues (such as IT slow to change) comes from gaps created between IT and the rest of the company. When there is no willingness to serve users and on the other way round, no appetite from users to involve IT, the gaps get bigger and dangerous behaviors may get introduced. It often seems like there is a bad case of not being able to see the forest because of the trees. Due to the unique position to oversee business processes, IT also plays an important role in building up an agile enterprise which can succeed in combining two distinct but interconnected elements— strategic responsiveness and organizational flexibility, with the combination of an innovative culture that promotes responsiveness throughout the company, and the leadership qualities needed to sense change, develop the proper strategic response.

IT needs to run as a business, like a software company: In order to run IT as a business, besides building good products and solutions, IT needs to know how to promote its products and services: from IT leaders to IT support staffs, IT professionals need to know how to promote their services and solutions like any software company with a product or a service to sell. Running IT as a business means IT understands what’s the customers’ true need, help to solve their problems, but also transform from a cost center into a value center. IT is business, nowadays, the forward-looking organizations also claim they are in the information business, so the business’s IT as well.

A responsive IT means a lot of things for the digital transformation: speed, innovation, agility, integration, modernization, intelligence, value creation, and maturity, etc. It is the way to run a digital IT and an overall digital organization.


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