Sunday, January 24, 2016

CIOs as Chief Influence Officer: How does a CIO Make a Digital Influence

There is now a greater need for a CIO to understand business drivers and equip with digital mindsets.

Digital makes a significant impact on every aspect of the business from people, process to technology and capability. IT plays a pivotal role in digital transformation. Given the power of SMAC technologies and abundance of information to fuel business innovations, how does a CIO make the multitude of digital influence, like a Pro?

Innovation Focus: IT is an important element in building innovation capabilities in any organization today. IT leaders need to identify the issues associated with innovation in an enterprise and actually have developed a unique model and platform for managing innovation portfolio in a systematic way. IT leaders are often at the right position to oversee business processes and identify the critical business issues by working closely with a business partner from a long-term perspective, and leverage technology to manage innovation across the enterprise boundary. Innovation as the creation and development of new ideas causes meaningful change for customers and the company. This isn't always a new product or service but can also be an improvement in processes, employee satisfaction or the environmental impact. If it makes your customers happier, your employees more creative and productive, and the firm will eventually also benefit from that! So IT leaders are in a unique position to orchestrate business innovation symphony.

Software Eats the World: “Software is eating the world.” The digital mantra for CIOs is to run IT as a software business. Software Engineering is no longer just an isolated discipline only a few geeks work on it, but a common practice everyone has the chance to play around it, it has permeated into every business in every location, and it underpins the business capability and brand of every digital organization. IT is shifting from “T” technology-heavy to “I” information savvy; CIOs need to deliver value to the organization. Many IT organizations are also doing more with App development to keep IT in a continuous delivery mode, to delight customers, and adapt to changes seamlessly. Application development projects need to bring up the most business value. The performance and innovation provided by Applications Development reflect not just on the CIO, but the whole IT sector. Many predict that the applications will:
-Be more user-centric, the user will do the programming and the programmers will build the systems and infrastructure to enable this.
-Applications will become more interrelated as we move to a world of systems-of-systems where constraints govern how and what we develop.
-Machines, tools, and environments that programmers use will become more powerful, easy-to-use and knowledge-base.

Customer Analysis: IT as an information steward of the business plays a critical role in customer analysis. Customers including prospects should be studied and observed and gain insight upon. Deep understanding of the user through empathy and observation with the innovator using a more inductive approach such as predictive analytics to what the customer wants to accomplish "next." This involves gaining a deep understanding of the motivational construct of the customer, in order that the innovator can become "anticipatory" of what the customer will likely "want next." There is still quite a bit of work to do in turning analytical results and connecting to customer satisfaction and business achievement. More often, the analytics team in the company correctly recognizes the customer value, but that knowledge is still only within the analytics team. There are plenty of organizations doing the analytics, but not yet have matured the process enough to drive the front end systems. Some customer analytics focuses on alluring new customers, with the ignorance of long-term loyal customers. There're analytics gaps need to be filled out by both developing new customers and delighting the current customers as well.

IT Modernization: In many well established IT organizations, legacy IT systems, and processes are critical for business’s survival, but also drag down the business speed of changes, and make their IT organization as a cost center, not a value creator.  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. The 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. Therefore, IT consolidation, integration, modernization, cloudification, and innovation are the necessary steps in IT management life cycle. The CIOs have to master at conducting such a hybrid digital orchestra. The "conductor" has to lead the in-house musicians and has to take into account the time lag (a fraction of a second) of the orchestras on another continent. They have to keep the in-house order, and must, simultaneously, coordinate with distant contributors; otherwise, the "music" will jar the ears.

Digital Talent Pipeline: IT skill/capability gaps do exist, and people are always the most important asset, especially in IT organization. IT knowledge life cycle has been shortened due to the changing nature of technology, thus, when assessing talent, more dynamic and balanced approaches are needed, instead of just searching for keywords. Every organization must address their common and unique IT skills requirements and map that out through some sort of skills/competency matrix within their organization. Too often, leaders are allowed to complain generically about what they mean by skill and competency gaps and often they pick the symptom, not digging through the root causes. Digital IT needs to leverage the emerging talent pipelines and shift mindset for understanding talent with empathy, recognize raw intelligence through wise eyes. Forward-looking IT organizations need to discover and develop talent for tomorrow, rather than just hire for yesterday. Data-driven talent management can leverage different variables and evaluate talent and manage performance in a more transparent and systematic way. And talent management needs to be well integrated with culture management, knowledge management, and performance management more cohesively.  In addition, whether IT can attract the brightest talent or not also depends on how effective the CIO is marketing his/her organization as a contributor to the corporation and society as a whole,

Today, there is now a greater need for a CIO to understand business drivers and equip with digital mindsets, apply digital technology to speed up IT and build business competitive capabilities, make digital influences which touch every aspect of the business, from customer delight to employee satisfaction, from operation excellence to innovation blossom, to practice digital disciplines and improve organizational agility and maturity.


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