Monday, November 9, 2015

Three “T” Factors in Running a Digital IT

All these “T” factors can help IT rebuild the other big T-TRUST relationship with business.

With the exponential flow of information and accelerating disruption of technology, IT plays a more significant role in the organization than ever. However, most of IT organizations get stuck in reactive mode as an order taker, lack of talented people with the right mindset, capabilities, and skill set, running at a lower level of maturity. In order to speed up and shift to the proactive mode, there is an “alphabetic soup” in running a digital IT which must lead to 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. Here we introduce three “T” factors in running a high-performing and high mature digital IT:

Transformation: As many organizations are at an inflection point in digital transformation, that transformation represents a break with the past, a high level of impact and complexity. Effective CIOs can help orchestrate such change in organizational structure (vertical), working structure (horizontal), and social structure through the latest digital technology. However, many firms see their incumbent CIO as the 'head techie' rather than a transformational executive who happens to be tech-savvy. This perception is largely the CIO's fault: if you talk about 'features' rather than 'benefits,' focus on IT efficiency rather than on business effectiveness, and don't invest in learning the business and then innovating... Why shouldn't you be seen as a techie? In order to run a transformational IT, CIO should indeed have the right vision and be able to collaborate closely with the rest of the C-Suite, and IT organizations need to focus on value and capability building. It will mean that the enterprise view, customer contact, GRC and vendor management are the most important elements of an IT organization. The focus of IT needs to get back to its root--the big "I" as Information, Intelligence, Innovation, Integration, and Improvement, in order to improve its maturity. It means IT should spend more resources on crafting unique business capabilities and capturing business growth opportunities, beyond "keeping the light on." In this regard, digital IT should gain more strength as an innovation engine and governance champion.

Transparency: Digital technology makes the world more open and transparent than ever, at the organizational level, businesses are always on and hyperconnected, there is no shortcut, transparency is a must. But the word of caution: transparency can be a double edge sword if the audience doesn't understand and embrace the intent in the right spirit. IT is the steward of companies’ data and information. People use the information to push their personal agenda forward, and that could cause some extra work. Transparency is gaining in popularity as a component of leadership, but in uncertain times, the concept is complicated by managing paradoxes. Transparency with LOB leaders is a must and non-negotiable if CIO needs to be successful. What and how is the trick, can be mastered. But the intent behind transparency should always be connected to business performance. CIOs will spend time with executives one on one to explain the shift in thinking and ask for their help and guidance. Most of the time, these executives will help you row the boat. Transparency can help IT leaders tell a story of the journey from current state to future state, of improvements, of accomplishments, of enablement with business strategies, etc. It's definitely a great core competency to leverage.

Talent Management: Talent Management is throwing fresh challenges and calls for radical change to be embraced. There are large skill gaps existing in many IT organizations, they fail to keep up on standards within their domain that can lead to the holistic enterprise viewpoint, and execution of IT strategies that fit within that enterprise viewpoint. The best or the right people are the cornerstones of the best IT organizations; while the best teams with complementary thinking style, skills, and capability can achieve much more than any individual who performs on his or her own. Therefore, always bring in the right people, with the ultimate goals to build a high-performing team for archiving better-than- expectation result and improving overall organizational maturity. Often times projects are not cohesive and create more problems when done independently of the enterprise than they solve. To train up an intelligent staff, you have to start looking internally at your own skill set. It is hard to be a CIO, focusing exclusively on your organization and lacking the time to keep up with the broader views of IT as it rapidly changes, thereby leading to knowledge stagnation. Modern IT leaders need to be talent masters.

All these “T” factors can help IT rebuild the other big T-TRUST relationship with business. Organizational success comes when IT and business act from 'IT vs. business' to a true partnership. The business needs to have empathy and complexity mindset to understand IT better, and IT learns to listen to the business partner's pain points, groom IT employees with “T” shape skill set and develop a transparent approach with business units. Only through working seamlessly, business as a whole can achieve a high-performing result and make a smooth digital transformation.


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