Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Five IT Management Gaps on the Journey of Digital Transformation

Bridging IT management gaps starts with top leaders’ mind shift.

Organizations large and small are on the journey of digital transformations, IT plays a pivotal role in driving changes and building business capabilities and competencies. Because Information technology is penetrating into every core process of organization; companies that lacked the skills to manage IT effectively suffered compared with competitors that had mastered those skills. But what are the existing IT management gaps, and how to close them in order to achieve the next level of business maturity more specifically?

The gaps between business perspective and IT understanding: The common pitfall for IT leaders is to fail to make the connection between IT and the business, lack the cognizance of how it will actually impact the company's top line and bottom line growth and, therefore, cannot be the enabler that companies need. In order to drastically change IT landscape, IT leaders need to have in-depth understand both technology and business, have a clear technological vision, and have genuine empathy with the users of technology. With a clear vision, passion follows. You must have passion and drive at the core along with these qualities, genuinely curious about Information. A great CIO should be able to not just understand business objectives and priorities, but also be able to break these down and cascade them downstream to his/her team in an IT-comprehensive format. It’s about having problem-solving skills and technological understanding that give you the ability to invent new ways to create or manage information effectively to drive business growth. The world has changed and operational process efficiency needs to be on agenda to see economic prosperity. Cutting out waste such as shrinking the gap between business and IT as described could make a significant contribution and the sooner it starts the better it will be for all involved.

The communication gaps within IT, between functions and across business ecosystem: “Lost in translation” is one of the most common symptoms which create gaps and build walls within the business and across business ecosystem. Sometimes "communicate" means different things to different people. And to communicate you need a common language. The solution would be communicating and talking to the people at all the ends of the problem/solution right from the sponsor to the end user with rolled up sleeves. It is much better to ensure that you use terms/words that are in common usage in the enterprise, rather than try to introduce a new term; Speaking different ‘dialect’ in organization & society is one of the root causes of miscommunication. Business fails IT, just like IT fails business. Many organizations are still running at industrial speed -with bureaucratic culture  and hierarchical decision-making scenario, business is the sum of pieces, than a holistic whole, functional silos compete for resources, rather than work collaboratively and seamlessly to optimize business. Such silo culture will create numerous blind spot in resources, process, capacity, and capability.More importantly, IT plays a critical role in shaping the culture of innovation, to encourage quality over quantity, continuous learning, and creativity, improve business self-management capability, etc, and ultimately bridging the digital gaps in a systematic way.

The decision gaps between “framing the right questions” and “how to answer them”: Though we enter the age of data and information abundance, but many think we are still at the time of “information-rich, and insight poor.” Knowledge is power, but wisdom is a superpower. Decision making takes multidisciplinary wisdom and approach, frame the right questions before answer them. The company's leadership plays a major role in framing the right questions for decision making. The role as leaders needs to incorporate processes before its reflection on how people are thinking about what they're trying to accomplish. Part of the problem about poor decision making and ineffective problem solving has to do with how you frame the question. Inappropriate framing is being the root cause of most bad decisions. It’s also due to the lack of inquisitive minds. People need to ask questions to deepen cognitive understanding. So the proper framing, probabilistic reasoning, sensitivity analysis, and value of information and value of control are integrated techniques. It has a combination of analytical/logical thinking up front, that is, to make sure you're including the right information and looking at all the possible options, then, to select the best decision.

The gaps between the strategy and the business capabilities to implement it: IT is a critical enabler in building business capabilities, and capability underpins strategy execution. Identify gaps and weigh on the importance of business capability is the prerequisite to oversight business strategy. The maturity of a business capability would be based on the ability to deliver on customer needs or to achieve the desired capability outcome. Organization’s capabilities can be categorized into the competitive necessity and competitive uniqueness. Business capability is an acquired and organized "ability" within a company and takes hard work to put in place; it can therefore not be transferred because of the degree of organizational learning and organization that goes with it, and the set of business capabilities directly decide the overall organization’s competency, and how well they can execute strategy, deliver the value to the customers and build long term winning position.

The gaps between IT innovation and IT skill gaps: According to industry surveys, IT skills gap is a significant challenge facing IT leaders today, what are exactly the skills gaps and what are the resulting symptoms. The most wanted IT professional is the one who demonstrated he/she can solve the complex problem either technically or from a business perspective. Businesses become over-complex these days, more often than not, the skills gap is caused by candidates not having the appropriate balance of the right technical skills with business/management acumen, or lack of system, critical and creative thinking, interpersonal skills, as at the end of the day, it all means how to solve business problems. So FIT matters. The bottom line is to explore digital talent pipelines, also have realistic expectations and focuses on digital fit, career development, and succession planning will go a long way to recruiting and retaining employees with the right mindset, attitude, and aptitude to adapt to changing requirements. Furthermore, the lack of innovative IT leadership or the misunderstanding of IT talent requirement from HR is perhaps the root cause to enlarge the talent gaps. Often times IT leaders look narrowly at specific problems and projects developed to solve those business problems, partly because that is the way funding is allocated rather than having a broad view of their enterprise and the longer term strategy for the organization. They fail to develop talent strategy and 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.

Bridging IT management gaps starts with top leaders’ mind shift: for many traditional organizations, they aren´t yet in the knowledge economy, they continue to act as expected in the economy of scarcity and live in the silos, presenting difficulties to share the insight and wisdom. Business as a whole is superior to the sum of pieces, the highly mature IT organizations not only apply the most advanced digital technology  into their business but more importantly, they weave all important factors, from shaping the holistic digital mindset to building the high-performing digital organizations.


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