Thursday, May 5, 2016

Is your IT Organization a Digital Catalyst or Digital Laggard?

Digital IT should do profitable things for the organization, otherwise, it can't do.

IT is on the big shift to transform from a cost center to a business value creator, from a help desk to a growth engine; IT should devote more attention to what organizations really care about - managing information to capture insight and foresight, putting technology to business advantage. However, there is the gap between the aspirations of what IT could do to the business versus what the current IT “mentality” and capability within the respective IT department is capable of providing and enabling. How can IT close communication and capability gaps, and what is the focal point to run IT as the digital catalyst and improve its effectiveness, agility, and innovativeness?

Run IT as a software business: In order to run IT as a business catalyst, besides building the good products and solutions, the business needs to know what IT can deliver and enter a dialogue about what best serves the goals of the business. Getting to this stage can take many years, but in order to get there, IT needs to be telling business about the opportunities and possibilities and that means IT needs to really understand the goals of the business. IT needs to know how to promote its products and services, and solutions, like any software company with a product or a service to sell. Running IT as a business means IT understands what’s the customers’ true need, help to solve their problems, but also transform from a cost center into a value center. IT as a business ‘solutionary’ to understand how the organization works and then give solutions that will increase the functionality to lower cost and, if applicable, increase output. This means a higher profit. IT should help to make products/services better, faster and cheaper.

Capture business insight from effective information management: Information Management is to connect people with the right information at the right time & location, to ensure that accurate information is accessible and shared within relevant business units. IT still stands for "Information Technology," the mission of IT is to get the right information to the right people at the right time. While the mission may sound simple, execution of the mission may be challenging. In many businesses, it is not enough to provide users with access to the information, they need information to be consumable, summarized, aggregated, and presented in a meaningful and usable way. This information is open to interpretation according to the level of knowledge one has. Information Management is about the process, organizing, and access. Information Management makes information available and useful. In many organizations, IT is the custodian of solutions and data assets that can be applied in new and different ways to generate massive business value that far exceeds what other functions can incrementally bring to the table. IT as a business enabler and catalyst should achieve such business objectives: gain a pervasive appreciation throughout the enterprise, particularly executive-level management, for adequate, accurate and timely knowledge as the basis for the decision. Digital IT should have (1) the ability to evolve the IT system at the pace of business need to provide such knowledge while reducing the cost of the IT asset. (2) do profitable things for the organization, otherwise, it can't do. (3) the ability to capture the latest digital technology trends for catalyzing business innovation.

Leverage IT to explore new business models: Enterprise leaders are increasingly looking to the IT function to introduce beneficial change into their business models to improve strategic performance, achieve and improve operational excellence, enforce customer intelligence and to position the enterprise for future industry leadership, etc. IT should be more integration focused rather than re-inventing the wheel with the custom development that takes place; IT can no longer feel like it has a monopoly on delivering solutions to the business. With the vendors offering cloud and hosted solutions that business can utilize directly with almost no IT support, IT should feel a competitive pressure. It can drive IT to run more like business as well as understand the business strategies more comprehensively. It can become an internal cloud broker to orchestrate business solutions more smoothly. Fortunately, there's a fundamental shift happening with the emergence of converging technologies that impact the business through cross-departmental collaboration. CIOs are expected to constantly propose new ideas and challenging the status quo. A confident CIO needs to keep asking, "why? why? why?” to manage incremental innovation in optimizing business processes, also, hunt for disruptive innovation with structure in renovating business model and upcoming business expansion.

By building a strategic partnership with business, IT can improve every critical process of business, as well as digitize the touch point of customer experience. The true IT-business partner relationship can move both business and IT forward, and deliver the high-performance result. Some leading companies already move beyond the IT/business alignment stage, jump start to IT engagement era, in order to better adapt to today's fast-change and dynamic digital ecosystem and catalyze digital transformation.


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