Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Running IT on the Fast Lane

A fast and highly responsive IT means a lot of things for the digital transformation: speed, innovation, agility, integration, modernization, intelligence, value creation, and maturity, etc.

Nowadays information is the lifeblood of business technology is often the digital disruptor, and change is the very nature of Information Technology. The ironic fact is that IT is often perceived to be too slow to adapt to the changes in the majority of large enterprise organizations, and some businesses even complain their IT organizations become the obstacle to getting things done. How to speed up IT- it means IT has to adapt to changes in proactive ways, and more often, IT has to drive the changes and plays a pivotal role in digital transformation, focus on the fastest speed available - because that is where the main threat to competitiveness. It is about running IT as a business enabler to catalyze growth and improve organizational agility. In practice, how to run IT in the fast lane?

Spot new opportunities: IT is the steward of the business’s information system, it is also in a unique position to oversee the business landscape horizontally. Hence, IT should proactively generate ideas and then work with business partners to take those ideas forward. IT plays an innovation role as more of a proactive influencer. It is important to take advantage of the IT vantage point to surface ideas proactively, but it is even more important to work with business stakeholders to make sure they jointly own the idea before proceeding. The expectations for CIOs have grown multifold, and they are expected to be visionary and path-finder for business strategy and growth. IT leaders can appreciate such an unprecedented transformation, and look for every opportunity from risks; besides managing risks at every opportunity. CIOs should serve as catalysts who can drive the organization to see the value of information technology in opening new revenue streams and achieving competitive advantage.

Prioritize right: The majority of IT organizations are overloading and understaffed, how to set priority right and speed up IT to do things most important to the business. Run, grow and transform, how to strike the right balance in running a healthy IT portfolio. It takes commitment and discipline to stay focused on the real priorities of the business instead of being distracted by what seems to be more urgent on any given day. The wisdom and ultimate goal of innovative CIOs are to help the organization think clearly about the two horizons of the future, the short term gain & long term wins, set appropriate strategies, and make intelligent plans, to deliver IT via the business value-driven metrics. The best way to find the balance between working on the business while doing business is to optimize the process - create a rhythm of meetings that establish clarity around the top priorities of the company, and then review those priorities on a regular basis. The key to success is for the team to hold each member accountable for doing their part and this is where many teams fail.

Innovate fluently: To speed up, IT needs to run like an innovation engine of the business. An opportunity for the CIO to add a lot of value in the C-Suite is helping C-Level leaders understand the possibilities of how new technologies can enhance the creation or improvement of products and services while balancing the technical and business risks, investments needed, timing, etc. Innovation requires thinking beyond, as opposed to outside the box, altering or changing the frame of reference to create previously unconsidered solutions. Innovation can be categorized as empowered innovation (creative disruption), sustainable innovation (the better version of product/service) or efficiency innovation (process improvement). IT can drive all sorts of innovation, proactively pushing ideas on how to leverage technology to drive revenue growth, increase business productivity, flexibility, and agility. The concentration should be on what these technologies can do for the businesses, not on the technology itself. IT is a business innovation catalyst.

Champion the intuitive and easy to use solutions: Delighting customers is the other dimension to speed up IT. Digital is the age of customers. Customer Experience covers the entire experience of the customer lifecycle. Technology is being leveraged every day to enhance customer experiences, this will provide a competitive advantage for the business, keep their loyal customers, and expand their customer base, as customer experience has to be aligned with company strategy and more important company branding. The strategic objective is to understand what your customers need and to help the business orient itself towards those needs in pursuit of its objectives. Tactically, IT needs to champion intuitive and easy to use customer-tailored solutions to achieve specified goals and optimize the customer experience in a continuous delivery way.

High-response to changes: Running IT on the fast lane also means to speed up the organizational vehicle as well. Due to the unique position of the oversight of underlying business functions and processes, IT also plays an important role in building up digital enterprises which can succeed in combining two distinct but interconnected elements: strategic responsiveness and organizational flexibility, with the combination of an innovative culture that promotes responsiveness throughout the company. IT has to not only improve its own speed, but also overall organizational agility. The type of speed issues (such as IT slow to change) comes from gaps created between IT and the rest of the company. When there is no willingness to serve users and on the other way round, no appetite from users to involve IT, the gaps get bigger and dangerous behaviors may get introduced. To mind the gap, CIOs need to work closely with the business partners, take business problems, find solutions for them, increase value propositions, simplify operations and be better partners with the rest of the organizations.

Where is the gas pedal to speed up IT? A fast and highly responsive IT means a lot of things for the digital transformation: speed, innovation, agility, integration, modernization, intelligence, value creation, and maturity, etc. It is the way to run a digital IT and an overall digital organization.


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