Thursday, April 7, 2016

CIO Master Intense Tuning I: Three Core Capabilities of Digital IT

Either information or technology is meant to the end, not the end.

The purpose of CIO Master - Unleash the Digital Potential of IT is to provide guidelines for building a framework to run a highly effective, highly innovative and highly mature digital IT organization. CIOs as IT leaders must be able to develop and optimize IT operational functions and build a set of necessary and differentiated capabilities to run multidimensional IT for creating multi-level business value. What are core capabilities of a digital IT and how to run IT as an enabler for the business strategies and objectives?

Information Management capability: IT is the foundation of data, information, and modern knowledge. The biggest misnomer regarding IT is that it is "just technology." The most powerful and differentiating tool in all of the today's businesses is INFORMATION and that is provided by IT systems. The fact is that a huge percentage of IT is about the identification and advancement of knowledge for the enterprise and its people. Anyone with common sense can perceive that, and all forward-looking businesses are declaring they are in the information business regardless of the sectors and nature of business. In fact, most experienced people would debate that, in this digital information age, there isn't really much of an enterprise without the massive oceans of Data & Information that flow through the enterprise, at any given split second. This information is open to interpretation accordance to the level of knowledge one has. IT is the foundation for massive volumes of data and information that is collected, persisted, categorized, mapped, sliced, diced, reordered, related, transformed, abstracted, and made meaning of, without which knowledge would be minimal in the modern day. Information Management is to connect people with the right information at the right time and location, to ensure that accurate information is accessible and shared within relevant business units. The role of IT today for many organizations is a business 'solutionary' for information, automation, and orchestration - although the real goal is, as is the case with every part of the organization, helping the business become, stay, and increase profitability! The role of IT in the current business environment should be able to enable business outcomes. Business is no more interested in IT if it continually delivers projects without delivering the real business value.

Innovation capability: Digital IT is a paradigm shift in role, responsibility, and attitude. CIO role has never been about just managing the status quo, so the digital shift for IT across industries is to be innovative with systems of engagement. The available digital technologies just make innovation easier to do now than in the past - less costly, more easily accessible. IT leaders need to manage innovation portfolio including both incremental innovation and disruptive innovation in a systematic way. Unfortunately, in most of the organizations, innovation is still a serendipity. An enterprise that depends on doing something, again and again, engaging various teams and groups, have less appetite for change. Incremental innovation can be tolerated to some extent, but disruptive innovation is almost impossible unless the company is going through a crisis. Even in the case of a crisis, most of the time, change of the leadership is required to accept disruptive innovation. An innovative and value-driven IT needs to understand stakeholders’ expectations and propose an innovation solution portfolio that corresponds to both demand and cost drivers with a focus on business priority,

Changeability/Agility: Agile is better at adapting to changes and ensuring quality. In the context of IT, from the highest strategic to the deepest technical levels, "agility" is a fast, sure response to external stimuli. It is the ability to "pivot" and change direction in response to market pressure or to create the market opportunity. It requires distinct patterns of IT capabilities, with specific positioning in the organization. Agile is the mind shift. Agile leverages the wisdom of the masses to scale up and drive success. For forward-looking and highly mature organizations, the IT department has become synonymous with the change department. The IT department has been left to run change project, to have a good understanding from a strategic perspective of the organization (structure, processes, locations, drivers, objectives, goals, applications, data, technologies.). In order to make effective changes, you have to know the underneath structure and processes of your business, because they underpin digital capabilities of the organization. How do you make changes to anything without knowing all the parts and how they are related? A mature organization is one that can quickly and safely assess all of the consequences of a possible change and devise effective plans to achieve and sustain those changes - and to do this continuously. To be flexible you need to be able to change and you can't make effective change decisions if you don't know where you are. Fundamentally, change consists of one or more of the following: people change, process change, and technology change,  and IT is not only the superglue but also the integrator to weave all important change elements effortlessly and make change sustainable.

Either information or technology is meant to the end, not the end. Many companies don't seem to have learned the lessons of each wave of new systems over the years that a system can only provide value if you have a clear understanding of how you will use it. In the book “CIO Master - Unleash the Digital Potential of IT,” we systematically discuss the digital CIO’s vision, how to build a capability-based strategy and implement it with step wise methodology and practices, also how to measure the right things, and measure them right.


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