Monday, March 7, 2016

Nine Perspectives to RE-Imagine IT Outside in & Retool IT Inside Out

Refocus on IT value proposition as a business enabler, innovation engine, and gamer changer.

In today's digital business environment, information is the lifeblood, and technology touches every phase of the business. However, the majority of IT organizations still get stuck at a lower level of maturity and running in the industrial mode as a cost center and commodity service provider. How to reimagine IT’s unleashed potential, rebrand IT’s tarnished image and retool IT in a systematic way?

Reboot-IT Mentality: At the industrial age, IT has a controller’s mentality and focus on keeping the bottom-line efficiency. With emergent digital technologies and consumerization of IT and the whole consumerization of IT movement has largely focused on IT getting its arms around the trend and 'managing' it. IT has a great opportunity here to lead the business transformation. Rather than wait for business to tell IT what they want, IT needs to proactively work with the business and partners upon the great new digital technologies which can change the business. That has the added benefit of steering business toward things IT recommends to use. Businesses also love to see IT getting deeply immersed in the new apps, devices, and solutions and make internal customers more productive, collaborative and smart. What are the opportunities to change, how should you interact with customers and each other? Think like customers and let the business know-how mobile, social and cloud can change the way to do business. In short, instead of focusing on controlling computerization, use it as an opportunity to reboot the IT mentality as a business enabler and catalyzer.

Refresh IT Leadership: IT leadership also shifts from a transactional management style to a transformational leadership focus, from reactive to proactive mode. IT leaders must know how to promote their organizations by "selling the right things right," to have the seat at the big table to envision radical digital transformation IT can catalyze and the culture of innovation IT should shape. IT includes the organization/people, technology, and processes that are in place; anything less would be a misnomer or at the very least relinquishing responsibilities. If the focus is on operations and controlling only, it is no wonder non-IT executives consider IT as an obstacle. The forward-looking organizations should empower their CIOs to co-create strategy and encourage IT leaders to be the change agents to drive the digital transformation.

Reinforce IT-business relationship: To bridge the gaps and reinforce the partnership, Business and IT have to work together to achieve their goals. The CIO has to work with the senior executives to understand the business, the business drivers, long-term objectives, strategy and then ensure that he/she is providing input to support them. This, in turn, will lead to the development of related IT strategies/initiatives. IT is not just part of the business; it is a critical, integral component of the business. The CIO sits in a unique seat of having the opportunity to oversee across the entire landscape of the business. Ultimately, what the CIO and IT, in general, must truly understand the business visions and goals. The method that is used must deliver the results that are consistent with the business values and goals.

Re-engineer IT process: The process of changing a good business idea into an effective IT solution has become awfully complex and messy in many larger organizations. IT is in a unique position to oversight business processes. You can not deliver value without "de-complexifying" and make transparent on what is being delivered and how or what is being delivered. IT plays a crucial role in process improvement and standardization (where possible) and master data harmonization, through both, leveraging industry best practices and identifying/ implementing innovative process specific to the business, which will increase efficiency, competitiveness, and profitability. The benefit of IT is reducing the TCO (total cost of ownership) as it reduces a lot of redundancy in the business process which ultimately increases customer satisfaction (internal and external) as well as employee productivity and engagement.

Renovate IT capability: The focus of digital IT needs to provide business capabilities, not just commodity services. Businesses need IT as a strong partner who is passionate about exploiting information enabled by technologies to work at the heart of the enterprise. IT needs to transform itself from a service provider to a business solutionary, from a cost center to an innovation engine, from process tuner to a capability builder. IT is a key enabler for a set of capabilities businesses need to have in order to compete for the future, such as transparency, efficiency, effectiveness, agility, innovation, flexibility, scalability., etc.

Reinvent IT culture and organizational culture as well: Change is the very nature of technology, and technology is more often than not, the driver of changes, it is also the tools to enable changes. IT workforce as a group of talented knowledge workers can play a change agent role in cultivating the culture of learning, as learning agility is the willingness and ability to learn, de-learn and relearn, and then apply those lessons to succeed in new situations. This is particularly important in the IT department because the new technologies continuously disrupt the old way of doing things, and the knowledge life cycle is significantly shortened. People who are learning agile continuously seek new challenges, solicit direct feedback, self-reflect, driven, and get jobs done resourcefully. Digital IT talent is "visioneers," " imagintects," curious explorers and change champions who can catalyze the culture of learning across the organizations and beyond.

Reshuffle IT organizational structure: Due to the hyper-connectivity of digital nature, the trend toward a softer and flatter organization structure is clear. And surely it is the right direction, as the speed is a key imperative these days and “silo” mentality as a product of rigid hierarchy hinders flexibility. Limited hierarchy works best in a creative environment where the free flow of ideas and their prompt implementation is a key element of success. The IT organization needs to be realigned to ensure the people are put in the right positions; they have a better focus to execute what is needed of them. The focus of duties makes it much simpler to hire and scale the organization as the business rapidly grow. Other than that scenario, you realign when the business strategy changes, justify a solid business case, subjected to reality-based cost-benefit analysis, well align people, process, and technology, to make change happen not only on the structural surface, but really ensure the culture is harmonized and the right people are in the right position to take the right tasks, and organization as a whole is optimal than the sum of pieces.

Reform IT talent managementIT needs to bridge both mind gaps and skill gaps, bridging so many gaps in IT talent management is obviously not an overnight job, it’s a thorny journey and takes the thought out planning and practices. IT should embrace the new digital mantra to practice analytics-based talent management to hire the right mindsets. The organization needs to be realigned to ensure the people are in the right positions; they have a better focus to execute what is needed of them. The focus of duties makes it much simpler to hire and scale the organization as the business rapidly grow. Weather 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.

Last but not least, refocus on the IT value proposition. IT is and will continue to be, a critical department. The real question is whether IT is seen as a necessary expense - a provider of devices and software - or a true strategic business enabler and a game-changer. It is crucial that IT be an active & even proactive participant in business decisions. The CIOs or other IT leaders sitting at that table must be engaged, understanding the business and always thinking and socializing how IT can bring value that will ultimately help the company achieve a competitive advantage over the company's competitors to boost the business prosperity for the long term.


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