Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Reinvent IT as a Business Accelerator

It takes innovative leadership to re-imagine IT and it takes a structural approach to reinvent IT effectively.

Most of IT organizations today are still being portrayed as the back-office cost center, to reimagine IT, it needs to shift from “T” driven to “I” - information focused business engine. Information is growing exponentially and it is humanly impossible to explore all of the "art" out there about a subject. In a business scope, there are some of the important bits and bytes of information needed when evaluating a new market, new technology or any business growth opportunity. Therefore, IT becomes more critical to explore such an “art of impossible,” but how to accelerate idea validation, doing more with innovation and build a unique set of business capabilities from IT management perspective?

IT is the “superglue” to integrate people, process, and technology seamlessly, build an innovation platform and manage business innovation portfolio in a structured way: The appropriately configured innovation platform creates a scalable means for sharing and building ideas throughout the enterprise. As a result, innovation becomes a persistent, shared reality, even across silos and geographies. A well-considered tool/platform for innovation, in the given culture, operating environment, and governance, which can be part of innovation management planning and implementation, could strengthen the innovation effort and success rate to the organization. And more often than not, information is one of the most time intensive pieces to the innovation puzzle. But there must be a purpose of accelerating the evaluation process and the innovation management life cycle.  It's about to have a purpose such as staying ahead of the competition in the delivery process. It's about to be able to get all the way around the task, to see it from all interests. It's about creating a structure that delivers what you need! The analytical tools contain those that deal with the comprehensive discovery of the problem-solution space, together with selection criteria, allows objective (not subjective) identification of both existing needs, existing problems and the future problems that will face a respective market segment and niche in tech course of evolution. This is where the true competitive edge is since no one considers them today. Often innovation and risk are proportional, improving efficiency takes a little creativity and risk while working on an innovation effort usually takes higher risks and creativity. Still, forward-looking companies will leverage IT and spend more resource on innovation investment in order to reap the fruit for out beating competitors and gaining the long-term advantage.
IT is not just the sum of services or processes, but an enabler of business capabilities: IT needs to build a set of value-added digital capabilities via weaving all necessary hard and soft elements, in reaching high-level maturity. IT is not just part of the business; it is a critical, integral component of the business. IT is the only entity in the organization supposed to understand business entirely and capture the oversight of organizational processes horizontally and pay attention to the processes and inter-connectivity under the surface, in order to build crucial business capabilities via platform approaches and systematic disciplines. The strategic planning should start with a clear picture of its own enterprise application landscape at a minimum and preferably understanding of its own IT capabilities and practices maturity relative to its industry. It’s ultimately important for IT to discuss "what's possible" not just "what do you want." This requires a certain depth of understanding the business and having your input respected. The first is learned, the second is earned. Especially the "what is possible" part, don't just deliver what the business asks for but be able to provide the "best solution" for the business' requirement, offering added value and feature insights based on system understanding, that the business might not even have thought of. An accelerating IT separates the exploitation of the existing methods and technologies from the exploration of the new way to do things via leveraging the emergent digital trends. There is no one size fits all, every organization has to walk the talk and explore its own sets of best practices and next practices, to build business competency for the long-term growth and prosperity.

IT is also a crucial digital engine for spinning a customer-centric organization: Business information is the very clue to understanding every step of customer purchasing, and technology is digitizing every touch point of customer experience. The entire customer journey at each stage needs to be mapped out clearly. Customer Experience is the new and most potent differentiating factor in a business that looks to embrace universal greatness. A real customer-centric approach permeates everything about the way the CIO leads in the business. It influences how you communicate about the operational crisis, it drives how you deliver services to your end users, and it sets the agenda for every single communication action you take with everyone else in the 'C'-suite. Being customer-centric is not just about a few best practices or even a pretty high-level customer interface, it has to go deeper to combine all key business ingredients in orchestrating a digital business which has key capabilities to delight customers. From customer integration to customer experience: behavioral, emotional, social and transactional design are well understood and practiced. IT as an information steward of the business plays a critical role in customer analysis and customer experience digitalization. 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.

It takes innovative leadership to reimagine IT and it takes a structural approach to reinvent IT effectively. CIOs as IT leaders need to be able to recognize the struggles of the company by understanding the business beyond IT. They must be transformational leaders that not only manage the IT group but also work to integrate and lead the integration (not merely alignment) of IT to business processes and the strategic value proposition, also, IT must partner with human change management experts to manage change and accelerate business growth and transformation.


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