Monday, February 22, 2016

How to Maximize IT Value

IT value-based management needs to be driven by concepts like collaborative value or collective advantage and multi-layer ROIs.

Business paradigm is shifting from the industrial era to an information/digital era, IT plays a pivotal role in such a transformation: the business needs IT to deliver services / solutions that drive productivity and effectiveness; the business wants fit-for-purpose IT solutions that enable them to be efficient in delivering services and products to their market at the right cost to deliver profits to the shareholders. Business needs IT to provide better information  as a nervous system to the business for improving profitability. Businesses are also looking for IT to add new innovative methods for complexity management, data transformation, quality improvement and agile construction etc. But, how can IT meet so many expectations and maximize IT value to achieve long-term business goals?

CIO Leadership: IT is the spinal cord for the organization - integrating various departments ability to bring out a technology driven solution, motivating the IT team to constantly deliver despite not all applications getting used in the organization, driving adoption of applications. As a leader, the CIO has to be able to inspire and encourage with his/her vision and generate conviction and enthusiasm for the missions of the company and the IT division, regardless of how exciting or mundane they may be. CIOs and executive team must have a clear understanding of the link between IT capabilities and business strategies, in order to capture the potential value of their IT investments. Prepare a strategic plan points the company in a direction where it can maximize its market position and reap as many benefits as possible. This direction must allow for economic, market or customer change and let business adapt swiftly. In short, the major task of the CIO today is to simplify and unify processes across functional boundaries, and often across the entire enterprise.The CIO has to be the technical visionary of the company, so she/he has to be able to not only articulate the vision, but communicate it in various forms and forums, including investor relations, vendors and partners, business leaders, IT personnel, the other CxOs in the company, etc. so the CIO has to be flexible, adaptable, and able to adjust the lingo to suit the audience, sometimes soften it up and drop the technical jargon, other times diving into the bits and bytes level.

Prioritization setting: In most organizations, the business strategy is an archived document by which daily decisions are rarely driven. The first step is to create a situation where the main strategic performance drivers are well and commonly understood cross-functionally on the leadership team. This is where prioritization should take place; not on the solutions (projects, IT being only one ilk), but on the opportunities. The result of this exercise should be a roadmap of initiatives of projects. Setting the priority right helps to avoid IT overloading and under-delivery. Prioritization also provides a framework for focusing on the creativity. It's only if the actual work is micro-managed and regulated to the point where resources are not able to create, and then creativity becomes stifled. Prioritization is the process and method that one communicates either top down or bottom up and impact how a creative approach, idea, or project is received in an organization. From a management perspective, it means to have a respected intra-organizational agreement of priorities and resources, to have the teams and employees focusing on the most important things, develop the energy and excitement to achieve business results.

Guiding principles: To maximize IT value, it’s also important to set guiding principles for practicing the multitude of IT management. Principles are general rules and guidelines, intended to be enduring and seldom amended, that inform and support the way in which an organization sets about fulfilling its mission. From IT management perspectives, guiding principles let the organization know what to expect when dealing with IT, and serve as a yardstick by which to measure IT internally and externally, and can spur some great discussions with fellow C-suite members and business unit management. Principles are not about restrictive rules or bureaucracy, but about the fundamental guidelines on how decisions are made, how things are done here, and how to assess talent performance and overall IT performance., etc.

Maximizing IT value really means a lot: from “doing more with innovation” to “doing more with less” (efficiency); from enabling business strategy (capability) to adapting to the changes (agility); from  revenue growth to business resilience. Hence, in order to become a better business partner, IT value-based management needs to be driven by concepts like collaborative value or collective advantage and multi-layer ROIs. IT and the business have to speak the same language and communicate more creatively, and IT leaders must be both business strategist and technology visionary, always think in terms of the value-add to the business, and IT is the business.


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