Thursday, May 7, 2015

CIO as a Digital Leader: How to Lead Effectively

Digital transformation represents a break with the past, having a high level of impact and complexity.

Many forward-thinking organizations declare that they are in the information management businesses regardless of vertical sector, and IT plays a pivotal role in leading the digital transformation. CIOs as a digital leader: How to lead effectively?

CIOs are not chief officers unless they are part of the senior leadership team. CIOs should be able to bridge the chasm between the operational aspects and the vision that they are creating for the business. The underlying point that transformation is consciously changing the direction of a business (or part thereof), not a simple change, and that a fundamentally different approach is required for standard projects. But most organizations fail to recognize the difference and thus, either fail or do not realize the full potential of transformational initiatives. They need to identify those individuals within the team who can carry their vision downwards to the team. To build effective IT leadership, CIOs must speak the language of the business. CIOs who are pure technologists will fail, but those who already speak the language of business value are at a better place. An executive interface role between whoever is providing the technology to solve business problems, or help create business opportunities, and the technology provider will still be required. And we all know that in order to adequately and competently lead and manage the provision of technology services, we need a set of capabilities, competencies, and knowledge that exist in this senior IT leadership role. This is not about the title - it's about the persons and how anxious and interested they really are to drive these goals - if CIOs don't want or can't do it for sure, someone in the company probably start doing it. Digital CIO is the person who is and has enough experience, adequate skills, willingness to learn and do it and so on, but in the end, one person can't do everything so this needs co-operation and communication with many parties.

CIOs are in the right position to oversee business processes which underpin business capability: We appear to be approaching a "perfect storm" of generational social change as the new generation workforce comes on stage and the older generations exit. That in itself is enough to wreak havoc. But, at the same time, we have a rapidly evolving technological base and social change brought on by the rapidly evolving digital technology. All one needs to look around to see global, social, political and economic changes. In addition, there is a pent-up backlog of new ideas and new technologies that have yet to explode into the foreground. Don't forget every opportunity has risks in it. Hence, CIOs with the proper technical training can manage both opportunity and risk more effectively in order to build a superset of digital business capabilities. It’s vivid to use Iceberg model to explain this: 10% of an iceberg is above water. It is what everyone sees and they are usually in awe of it. In reality, there is 90% of that iceberg underneath holding the other 10% above the water so it can be seen. The transformative CIOs can make the 90% happen to get the digital transformation above the water. IT will be in the form of connectivity and collaboration tools. But, it also is used for measurement, tracking, and outcomes assessment. The workforce will be spread out all over the globe and companies will need to have the digital way of making sure that things are getting done and getting done efficiently.

Digital transformation represents a break from the past, with a high level of impact and complexity. Transformation means to change the "nature" of something, albeit that the increasing pace of technological advances has clearly impacted the nature and scope of opportunity. Transformation efforts need to be undertaken as the means of getting to a defined different capability to accomplish a defined goal. Otherwise, they cannot have a clear focus and business rationale that is essential to gaining any traction in changing an embedded culture. Likewise, trying to be 'transformative' just because it is the latest buzzword will fail because it will not be able to offer a powerful story as to why it needs to succeed. Businesses and organizations that find themselves setting new and radically different trajectories are facing a daunting task of navigating largely uncharted territories. In the face of vast areas of unknowns, a solid framework is needed that addresses both the mechanics of getting the work done and the human factors associated with the major thought paradigm shift that must take place within the organization at all levels in order to transform.

Culture plays a major role in the success or failure of digital transformation. Organizational culture is the key to success or failure of any transformational initiatives. Culture is the combined assumptions, beliefs, values and patterns of behavior that are shared by members of an organization. Behavioral change initiatives usually fail, or at least extremely difficult to attract lasting commitment unless attitudes and beliefs are also engaged. However, there is a limit to which any initiative can influence and alter the culture of an organization, which will be strongly influenced by the tone set by Top Management. If cultural aspects are not considered in strategy building and planning, or if silo thinking is dominated by the organizations where many executives had lack of knowledge of the technology and don’t have the vision of IT as strategic capabilities, projects fall flat during implementation phase and would make management to go back to the drawing board. Further, during transformation, breakdowns will occur in order to break through to these new thought paradigms, and selecting which foreseeable breakdowns should be managed proactively is key. This is one aspect of the 'different' way transformational change initiatives are managed, as compared with regular change.

The Board has a duty to ensure the firm has appropriate executive leadership and governance processes. So if the CEO and the CIO aren't effectively using IT, there's also a Board issue. It's possible for a dynamic, driven CIO to drive the change in the perception of IT in general and the CIO role in particular. And the bottom line to getting a seat at the proverbial C-level table or the boardroom simply comes down to the CIO's first believing he/she deserves that place within the organization, then being able to articulate the value proposition in terms the business unit can understand. It is also important to focus on getting the basics of your core role right and deliver services that meet the organization's needs. Doing this demonstrates competence and opens a pathway for respectful peer to peer communication. In order to drive the digital transformation and lead the change, and to avoid the “do we really need a CIO and IT department to bother us with technology when we can use the cloud?” The CIO has to ensure that the business strategy and business objectives are enabled by IT from a business perspective. And the Board has to ensure management and governance are the interdependent and complementary disciplines which both enabled by high mature digital IT.

Many say IT has to transform itself from a monolithic enterprise IT to lightweight strategic IT organizations that see new information technologies as a means to create value for the organization. They see analytics, big data, virtual reality, social interaction technologies, gamification, artificial intelligence, even online education as under the IT umbrella. CIOs have to advocate their organization, and IT value has to be driven, indicated and understood at all levels of the organization. This is accomplished through establishing strong interdependent relationships, operational excellence, customer satisfaction and superior sets of digital capabilities in order to move up the organizational maturity.


Post a Comment