Thursday, January 21, 2016

Digital IT Maturity

IT needs to build both strategy and practices to transform into digitalization, to harness agility and maturity.

Digital means customer-centric business. Digital IT should add more strategic advantages, not just a support function, and IT strategy is an integral component of business strategy, as more often than not, technology is the driver for business innovation. The trend of IT consumerization indeed provides unprecedented opportunities for IT to get more touch base with end customers, to empower employees as well. IT acts more like an ‘orchestrator,’ to conduct an information-mature, customer-centric digital organizations, IT maturity directly makes an impact on organizational maturity. Here are five aspects of digital IT maturity:

Digital Transformer: Information Technology should be seen by any business as a “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 and support center 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. 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 enable 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.

Digital Synchronization: Both business and IT get synchronized to stay on the same page about business strategy, and weave IT into business strategy and execution. It is about Information Management coherence. In order to build a bridge between IT and business, there must be a very clear understanding and agreement between IT and the business about the role of IT in the organization. If the business only regards IT as a support function, then the priority will be operational efficiency, closing the gap is about doing the basics right to synchronize business and IT and orchestrate a digital symphony. If the business expects IT to be a driver of innovation and change, then the IT function needs to be flexible and responsive and even proactive to synchronize with core business activities. The business needs to know what IT can deliver and enter a dialogue about what best serves the goals of the business. IT needs to be telling the business about the opportunities and possibilities and that means IT needs to really understand the goals of the business and synchronize with business goals. Ultimately you'd want to recognize that what most businesses need is an IT capability which is the key component of building business capability, not "just" an IT department. Framing the right problem and, therefore, framing the problem right, it’s often about digital business synchronization, integration, and implementation.

Digital BalanceDigital IT has a faster speed. We have more computing power, greater connectivity, more data, greater potential empowerment of the worker, etc nowadays. But more of something isn't always necessarily good. The pervasive digitalization or IT consumerism requires the balance of “old experience” and “new way to do things,” the “learning and doing.” Keep the balance of IT stability and speed. Technology enablement is always about planning, funding, designing, building, operating, securing, optimizing and balancing. There are a few things that are different from 'business as usual.' First, pervasive digitization requires both business and technology professionals to rethink how things are done in organizations. The 'reach and range' flexibility that now exists removes barriers that have existed in the past. Second, business professionals are not infrequently 'ahead' of their organization's technology professionals when it comes to thinking about the opportunities made available by pervasive digitization or 'IT consumerism.' Third, media and platform choices will matter more than ever with the increasing ease of translating content across media types and the ease of migrating across platforms. How this cornucopia of design options is exploited and managed thus becomes a crucial factor in an organization's success in producing digitized products and services. Finally, the emergence of potential opportunities for exploiting digitization is likely to follow a nonlinear pattern or exponential speed, as the pervasiveness of an organization's digitization journey increases. How these ideas are recognized, filtered and dealt with a will as well become a crucial factor in an organization's success in running a balanced IT and producing digitized products and services.

Digital Innovation: From an innovation perspective, IT mantra is shifting from “doing more with less,” to “doing more with innovation.” However, running an innovative IT doesn't mean IT will go “wild,” or "rogue," IT should also go smarter and flexible; it doesn't mean IT should get rid of all those processes or IT framework hassles. In fact, creativity and process have to go hand in hand; without process there is chaos and from the chaos, it’s hard to be creative. Using both modes-creativity and IT framework to be successful; that could sound like a contraction. But actually you need to run IT with two modes: the systematic approach with IT framework to achieve the benefits of industrializing certain domains of activity such as service management, Infrastructure management, etc. the digital shift for IT in some industries is to be innovative with systems of engagement rather than systems of record. The available digital technology just makes innovation easier to do now than in the past - less costly, more easily accessible.

Digital Fit: Achieving efficiency is always one of the important goals to improve the bottom line. IT needs to prune “the weed” regularly. The approach to “keep fit” is to implement a program that like a gardener would prune the tree and nurture the valuable solutions. Pruning the weeds would face resistance, however, at the end of the day, this was not just an IT decision and rather than let the senior management team beat them up, by understanding and communicating the actual costs, the senior management team could be pointed in other directions as IT is simply delivering the decisions of their business. IT needs to promote its products and market its capabilities. IT departments have to sell the benefits of their solutions or the IT-enabled business capabilities and competency not just once but a continuous effort. In reality, managing multiple people, projects, and timelines are more like the practices of spinning plates act. Usually, projects are launched at different times, sometimes in synergy with existing programs, and tended to have at varying degrees of focus (the spin) to keep them going, so they don't fall off the pole. Thus, the best leaders will optimize each person's ability to handle the "plate load" effectively, all with the brand quality and emphasis on progress and delivery. And keep IT fit for its purpose to improve the overall business competency.

Both fast growing business and well-established organization set top priorities to build new capabilities in which IT is a key enabler. IT needs to be the driver for the business's digital transformation. IT needs to build both strategy and practices to transform into digitalization. Do not underestimate the perfect wave of combined integration of all of the exponential growth curves. The forward-looking organizations always continue to learn and strike the right balance between “old” and “new” way to do things. IT-business alignment is moving into IT enablement and IT engagement in order to enhance IT agility and maturity.


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