Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Three “S” Factors in Running a Digital IT

IT transformation is a significant part of the business transformation, IT becomes change drivers and strategy enabler for business to unleash its full potential.

Technology is pervasive, business transformation or business initiatives today nearly always involves some form of technology implementation or data analysis; IT touches both hard business processes and soft human behaviors. But how to run a value-added digital IT? There is an “alphabetic soup” in running a digital IT which must lead in reaching high-level performance and maturity; besides triple “I”s - Information, Innovation, and Integration, triple “A”s - Automation, Analysis, and Agility, triple “C”s - Change, Collaboration, and Cloudification, triple “P”s - Principle, Process, and Performance, triple “E”s Enablement, Exploration, and Effectiveness & Efficiency, triple “V”s - Vision, Value, and Variety,  triple “F”s - Fast, Flow, and Flexibility; Triple "T" factors - Transformation, Transparency, and Talent Management. Here we introduce three “S” factors in running a high-performing and high mature digital IT:

Strategy: IT Strategy lifecycle has progressively shortened for many business models due to the "VUCA" characteristics of digital dynamic. IT is not just to support strategy, IT strategy is an integral part of business strategy. The main problem is that business executives still limit their vision of IT as “IT supports a strategy,” thus, IT leaders have to rebrand IT as a value creator, not just an order taker. CIOs role as C-level needs to contribute to the formulation of the business strategy where new trends of technology will provide strategic business capabilities to the business that will enhance the competitive advantages of the organization. CIO should have the knowledge and ability to demonstrate that IT capabilities as a strategic enabler of the business and CIO to be part of the executives for articulating the business strategy.

Speed: This is a process of evolution. Different departments or divisions within an organization have different speeds. And now it is the reality to run a bimodal business with both industrial speeds for stability and digital speed for agility. In practice, even in the simplest organizations, the 'Speed' is not homogeneous across the enterprise, there are differences between 'front office' and 'back office,' enterprises with multiples businesses and associated business models. So many organizations will have to 'mix & match' at least two different speeds' with appropriate IT governance styles, accommodating the resulting different IT strategy cycles. IT is often perceived to be too slow to adapt to the changes in the majority of organizations. IT now plays a pivotal role in digital transformation, so IT needs to focus on the fastest speed available - because that is where the main threat is to competitiveness. Also, it is necessary to understand that no department will suffer from being challenged too often. Now with the emergent digital technologies such as Cloud, Mobile, Social, Analytics and IT consumerization trends, IT has better opportunity to run faster with digital speed but also be cost effective with high-quality delivery.

Simplicity: IT is complex by nature, but complexity  is not the opposite of simplicity. Sometimes "complex is simple as it gets." IT System complexity arises from the interaction of dynamic components, and can be layered and intricate. Even simple interactions can create amazing complex systems. But IT needs to overcome complication. Complication is a better antonym for simplicity. Complicated systems will no doubt have layers of complexity as well, but can be simplified by reducing the number of components or changing the way they interact. Sometimes the way to do this is to make one of the elements of the system more complex, designed in such a way so that the complexity of other elements of the system is reduced. Some complexity factors cannot be simplified, you need to become more complex in order to serve customers better. The reason many would have simplicity principle but act complexity is because they don't know HOW to make it simple. IT needs to manage complexity via consolidation, integration, modernization, innovation, and optimization. It's also worth pointing out that agility is closely related to simplicity. The simpler the business processes, the agiler the business is. Analyze “CRAMPS” factors, the actual order in which factors are assessed is:
1). Performance — what is the expected performance for the solution, is it within acceptable limits.
2). Availability — what availability is required for the application system, and does the solution provide it. Reliability, Robustness part of Availability Sensitivity, depending on how you mean this, it is an aspect of Availability, Performance.
3). Scalability — what is the scalability of the solution, is it within acceptable limits.
4). Manageability — is the solution manageable, and how would it be managed.
5). Cost — what are the costs for the solution, are they acceptable.
6). Risk — what are the risks associated with the solution. Is the level of risk acceptable to the enterprise?  

IT transformation is a significant part of the business transformation, IT becomes change drivers and strategy enabler for business to unleash its full potential, from built to last and good to great. Thus, IT strategy is sub-component of business strategy, IT speed needs to be faster than the rest of the organization in order to lead change because often technology is the innovation disrupter, and information provides the business insight for the very reason to changes. IT agility means the speed to change, the simplicity to manage, and the flexibility to have alternative solutions. And IT transformation is synchronizing with business transformation.


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