Thursday, April 28, 2016

Running a Highly Responsive IT Beyond Just Fixing Things

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

The majority of IT organizations get stuck at the lower level of maturity, spend most of resource and time to “keep the lights on,” play as reactive maintenance center to fix things. The bottom line IT support is still fundamental, but not sufficient to run a digital IT. Nowadays, uncertainty and ambiguity are key challenges for business leaders today, with increasing speed of changes, IT organizations have to move from a reactive order taker and back-office support function to a proactive strategic partner and highly responsive business catalyst.

The CIO role has never been about just managing the status quo: Digital transformation starts with mind shift, business value has to be driven, indicated and understood at all levels of the organization. The more important thing is to work on the activities and considerations that need to be addressed to enhance the IT-business relationship to help organizations become agiler and proactively adapt to the changes, moving up from efficiency, effectiveness to agility; from functioning to firmness to delight. A large part of the problem for IT transformation is that while there are both long and short-term goals for the business, far too often these goals are in opposition to each other. The tough choice needs to be made: when should you reap the quick win, when shall you focus on long-term growth. Since the rewards are highest for the short term goals being met, the long-term goals tend to suffer, and uncertainty gets blamed rather than managers focused on the short term goals and the associated rewards. IT is in the middle of a sea change, therefore, it is important to realize that there are basic principles and rules that make it work. CIOs must set the principles, guideline, and rules to run a digital IT. IT transformation has to go a step further and involves internalization of the new values and conceptual model so that the newly required behaviors don't require the same kind of effort and vigilance.

A responsive IT needs to be more innovative: IT needs to be able to provide innovative solutions or supply differentiated solutions that contribute to both top line growth and the bottom line success of the organization. IT needs to become the business’s innovation engine, rather than just tools. IT must lead in reaching high-level performance. So the digital shift in some industries is to be innovative with systems of engagement rather than systems of record. In saying that, some industries have been also doing this for some time. The available technology just makes innovation easier to do now than in the past - less costly, more easily accessible, thanks to the "lightweight' digital technologies and mosaic style of the service model. So IT leaders have to continue self-checking: What business value are you helping to create? Which business team members determine the priority of your work? If you don’t receive straightforward, consistent responses – you have a problem with alignment and accountability – most likely across IT and business. Instead of just fixing the things, digital IT should always embrace the new way, the new process and the technology to do things innovatively.

What should be focused on is the integration of IT into the business decisions and processes to be highly responsive: IT involves co-creating business strategy. This will allow IT to shine in both roles –as enabler and driver. IT proactively works as an integral part of the business to capitalize on opportunity via leading the transformation, or IT delivers the best solution to the business problems which meet business’s requirement or tailor customer’s needs. Even the speed of change is increasing, businesses still do have contexts of relative certainty, while simultaneously having contexts reflecting both complexity and chaos. Each of these contexts requires a different management approach. IT should proactively facilitate the business partners to the right solutions and help to implement them with speed. Neither of these is wrong or right and choosing which is best should be dependent solely on the situation at hand. These roles will switch in all departments between leadership and support depending who takes the charge of a given project, and where the company's priorities lie.

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


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