Sunday, April 17, 2016

Three Roles of CIOs to Accelerate Digital Transformation

CIO Masters have to advocate their organization, and IT value has to be driven, indicated and understood at all levels of the organization.

IT plays a pivotal role in the digital transformation of many forward-looking organizations today. CIOs must set the principles, guideline, and rules to run a digital IT. IT is in the middle of a sea change, it is important to realize that there are basic principles and rules that make it work. But the self-centered "our jobs are hard" line only isolates IT more. How can IT reinvent its tarnished brand, and reimagine its role to accelerate changes? Make sure that nothing is dismissed due to out of date beliefs or natural human emotions. Understand your organization’s strategic goals and initiatives and rejuvenate CIO leadership to reach the next level of maturity:

CIOs as a “Simplifier”: By nature, technology is complex, and the information is overloading. However, the purpose and advancement of IT are not to complicate things, on the opposite, simplicity is the optimal level of complexity. Ultimately, IT needs to make things as simple as possible, simplicity should rule the day. CIOs need to take business problems, find solutions for them, increase value propositions, simplify operations, processes, and be better partners with the rest of the organizations. Therefore, the IT organization shouldn't just be stocked with technologists. You need visionary, problem solvers, change agents, customer champions and innovators, and those who can think forward, dig deeper, see through the issues, look around and beneath the corner, and work smarter. Further, IT has to walk the talk, in many situations, IT manages information on a business, but, refuse to run them and deeply analyze IT itself. IT knows a lot about how to make applications better, more reliable, less maintenance, easier to change, but it doesn't seem to want to make that a reality. So IT has to look at itself, improve its own agility and effectiveness, simplify the way it does things, and amplify best practices into the enterprise scope.  

CIO as an Orchestra Conductor: In digital music, IT needs to go beyond just playing the background music to support the melody. It’s being the sheet music, take that away and you run the risk of the orchestra stopping altogether or, at least, playing the wrong tune! IT must always be tuned up to enable business objectives and catalyze business growth for the long-term perspective. There needs to be some in-depth of technical understanding and business insight. The need for change is obvious. CIO as a change agent not only touches his/her own function but also needs to make an influence on the entire organization and business ecosystem as well. It takes strategic planning, methodology and practice in orchestrating such transformation. The CIO must be attuned to the business' IT needs and works with all stakeholders to ensure they have the right tools to execute and business won't miss the opportunity to grow. The CIOs have to master at conducting such a hybrid digital orchestra. The "conductor" has to lead the in-house musicians and has to take into account the time lag of the orchestras on another continent. This looks more and more like the situation faced by global business leaders in the Digital Era. They have to keep the in-house order, and must, simultaneously, coordinate with distant contributors; otherwise, the "music" will jar the ears. The term is more generic and stresses the role of a team leader and the fact the CIO wouldn't be able to create a 'symphony' without the full participation of his/her team members and cross-functional collaboration of business partners.

CIO as a Talent Master: IT has to shift from a back-office support function to a business innovation engine. Because more often than not, technologies are the disruptive forces of innovation and the information is the most invaluable asset in the organization besides talent. The "new" IT workforce needs to be able to self-learn and be creative enough, investigate new technologies and software, to be curious about how they can blend and integrate different technologies and solutions, not as technical challenges, but for achieving business value and customer delight. The CIO needs to have the ability to inspire others to a shared vision; the ability to inspire, build and maintain the trust and confidence of those great hires is paramount to the continued success of the organization and the CxO's brand and impact. A great leader is also a culture master, since it is critical for building a culture of innovation due to the changing nature of technology, as being content with a status quo culture will significantly limit the company's ability to become great. The wider organization needs to provide support for assuring the skills people bring into one organization don't go to waste in the same. CIOs should make it easier for career growth within the wider organization. You can have all the ability and confidence in the world, but if your team is not inspired and does not trust you and believe in your vision, you can't go too far. CIOs need to unleash the potential of talented IT professionals, as well as the digital potential of IT and the organization.

Digital transformation is a journey, there will be challenging times on the road ahead for sure. Transformation means to change the "nature" of something, albeit that the increasing pace of technological advances has clearly impacted the nature and scope of opportunity. Transformation efforts need to be undertaken as the means of getting to a defined different capability to accomplish a defined goal. CIO Masters have to advocate their organization, and IT value has to be driven, indicated and understood at all levels of the organization. This is accomplished by establishing strong interdependent relationships, operational excellence, customer satisfaction and superior sets of digital capabilities in order to move up the organizational maturity.

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