Monday, May 18, 2015

How to Run IT as a "Digital Transformer"

Information Technology is a “digital transformer” and strategy enabler for businesses across sectors.

Many IT organizations today are running two speeds: the industrial speed to keep the light on, and the digital speed to adapt to the rapid change and constant digital disruptions. "Delivering Business Value with IT" has the objectives to close the gap between the current “As Is” and the “desired To Be.” In order for the CIO and the IT department to position as the premium provider of competitive business solutions, not just IT services, you need to continue questioning: What are the business’s strategy and plans? What is the current business model that IT has to support? Where could IT make a significant impact on the business? Are there any further opportunities to use IT? What are further perspectives on value propositions to running a digital IT?

Information technology should be seen by any business as the “digital transformer” and strategy enabler: It is a significant part of the business strategy, and not simply as a tool or mechanism to support business goals. There are very few businesses today can state that IT does not play a significant role in the day to day operations or even long-term strategic positioning. Hence, organizations need to take that into consideration when establishing strategic goals to manage their digital transformation. Further, the IT department should not live in a silo, or a function running as a help desk only. Both strategic and tactical objectives should be set to achieve the digital strategy and business objectives, these are then broken into objectives for the department (this should cover both long, middle and short-term goals). The CIO should sit on the executive board, not because IT is important, but because it is business critical that the CIO and the IT department effectively enables and facilitates the business strategy and objectives, and ultimately digital transformation. To effectively “support” business strategic execution, IT must sit at the table as a business line and be a key player in the development of business strategy before execution.

More and more businesses expect the consumerization style responsiveness from IT: Many CIOs have encountered an IT consumerization mentality (“I want what I want when I want it”) in organizations where they believe that IT is there to serve, to do what the business wants and to determine actual strategic business or organizational need, or the impact on the organization as a whole. IT needs to ensure its strategy allowing for digital speed, and agility to be seen by the business as an enabler, not an overhead. Organizations can implement business strategy execution through constructive business-IT relationships, ensuring the maturity level of the IT organization matches the requirements of the business strategy, and be very good at “agilizing” IT teams for service delivery, project execution, risk management, cost optimization, governance. etc.

Value, Profit, and People are aligned to create a unique competitive advantage of IT: The focus of IT and the CIO should be business-centric and tightly integrated into the decision process. Mappings of high-level business processes to technology must be in place to allow for an understanding of the impact of strategic changes, and to open discussions across business lines on the steps that need to be taken to reach strategic goals. Although it doesn't mean to apply technology for technologies’ sake and, it also doesn't mean you should automate manual processes without first evaluating the process to determine how it can be done better, whether there are synergistic processes elsewhere in the organization that can be coordinated/combined/ consolidated/integrated/ modernized/optimized, and what relevance it has to current and ongoing business strategy for digital transformation. A deep understanding of organizational objectives and business process is essential. Additionally, good governance including controls and effective risk management are also prerequisites. To leverage IT to execute on the set business strategy we need to effectively focus on.

There is no one size fits all formula to run a high effective IT, because, different IT organizations and enterprise as a whole are at the different stage of business maturity, IT can be used as a tool, enabler, catalyzer, or a digital platform to meet the ultimate goal of an organization's Short/Medium/Long-term strategic plans. Focus on the VALUE proposition to run a digital IT, you need to understand the Business Strategy with IT as a core element, and how IT organizations can deliver effectively to meet business objectives, that is to deliver business value with IT. The scope of the CIO should extend out beyond IT, to become a catalyst and enabler for change, a true CHANGE AGENT.


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