Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Do you think IT is well Positioned to be the Innovation Nerve Center of the Organization?

As a CIO, you need to understand what the organization’s expectation from IT through an innovation lens.

The traditional role of CIOs is to manage information, IT systems, and cost, now with information is permeating into every corner of business and digital technologies are more often the cause of innovation disruption, IT has itself transformed to create a new competitive advantage, new products, and new services. But many of today’s C-suites are unaware of what is technologically possible now or in the future, so do you think IT is well positioned to be the innovation nerve center yet?

As a CIO, you need to understand what the organization’s expectation from IT through innovation lenses: There’s a lot of opportunities to clarify the role of IT in innovation. Are you talking about enterprise innovation using technology or are you talking about IT’s innovation, improving things they have more control of like business processes or the IT function itself? Or both? Innovation can also be getting two business areas to work together on new business opportunities. IT is uniquely positioned to observe processes across the enterprise. Sometimes when one business area has a new product that can be used by another, IT leaders can connect the dots to come up with new innovative solutions.

A CIO needs to think about freeing some time to learn for real business from the business strategist’s perspective: Even though they are usually too busy for acting as a firefighter and promoting their organizations in one way or the other. Because, the root cause of that “ firefighter mood,” is indeed the lack of true knowledge at the strategy and governance level, but as a CIO, you need to be a business strategist with technology vision and the mindset of governance champion to be able to achieve the above. But you must know how to walk first, before being able to learn how to run. Only then, you’ll become finally ready, to jump the obstacles in front of your organization true success. But that can’t be done by the existing mere management model, but by adopting fresh new thinking and vision. This will allow you to know what you’re exactly architecting, before delegating its construction to the builders. Innovation is more about true knowledge acquisition first. Because if the organization has got that knowledge, it could accomplish a lot with less, and do more with innovation, and it could also use less than that 80% to achieve more than what it has today. Pragmatically speaking, to know what is really possible, you must know more and better than your own IT vendors. That is to push them, and even forcing them to give you more, better, cheaper and more innovative solutions than what you are having right now. And to achieve the latter, you need to get the right knowledge; which then becomes a mandatory ingredient.

IT staff are the co-creators for business innovation: Being able to become innovative or close is being able to think, and create new things based on its own needs, true knowledge is the optimal solution. But there will be always, few little exceptions to any rule, because perfection doesn't exist. It works, but, fortunately, there are also many useful tools for helping ideas to become real innovative solutions. It's a process supported by tools and people. How well it works depends on many factors. The interesting point is that, once IT is unburdened from the daily routine of flipping the lights and break/fix; it’s almost natural that the staff turn into the innovation co-creators. The challenge is getting out from the daily burden, but that requires creativity and some open and experienced leadership because money isn't always easy to come by. Responsibility for IT to be creative squarely and fairly lies on CIOs. A lot of them find themselves in this role by happen chance without any clue how they got there. Expecting creativity is way beyond their capabilities. There are some who have the capability to inspire and cultivate creative IT department are so busy with mundane day to day activities, they lose the sense of creativity over the period of time. Hence, CIOs have to learn the right and real things about organizations, not just via IT lenses, but via business lenses. Because then, they can practice that knowledge in the field to start innovating at the organizational level.

High mature IT will enable building high mature organizations, there are very progressive organizations where IT sparks organizational creativity. In each case, the organization has built highly interactive teams with representatives from each line of business focused on finding innovative new ways to creatively resolve issues. And a digital IT organization is well positioned to be the innovation nerve center in these organizations.


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