Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Three Aspects in IT Maturity

IT maturity is based on overall business maturity. IT maturity can further accelerate business agility.

Most of IT organizations today still run in a reactive mode as an order taker to keep the bottom line and struggle with operational efficiency. However, with the rapid change and overloading information, technology is often the disruptive force of business transformation. Forward-looking organizations have to empower their IT leaders to lead more proactively, contribute to strategy making, and focus on innovation. In philosophy and practice, how to improve IT maturity as a true strategic business partner?

IT maturity is based on overall business maturity: IT maturity can further accelerate business agility. At the industrial silo mode, IT plays as a controller, IT staff often takes heroic measures routinely to keep "their" IT systems working well for the business and their colleagues. Also, due to the limitation of the monolithic hardware, at the traditional IT organizations, if you choose "cheap" and also choose "good," then expect "slow." Alternatively, if you choose "fast" to accompany "cheap," then expect poor quality. Cheap, fast and good - it seems you can have only two choices at a time. With emergent lightweight and more nimble and powerful digital technologies, IT has better chance to achieve them all - better, faster and cost-effective, to achieve overall operational excellence. Also, IT organizations can be either leading or supporting, depending on the maturity of the organization and the vision of top leaders.  if the organization does not take advantage of or expect the IT department to innovate and lead or initiate change, then in the age of the digital era, IT is unlikely to be delivering the best value for its customers and shareholders, and still get stuck in the lower level of maturity.

Agility is one of the important digital pillars in IT and business maturity: If foresightful businesses empower IT organization to lead, then IT must be structured to lead. Agility isn't primarily about engineering. It is about making organizations more waste-repellent and adapts to changes. The agility can be productivity multipliers by eliminating impediments; understand the fundamentals of core agile principles which are not only in the spirit of Agile but in a sense serve as a mature cornerstone of its implementations. Hence, it is too narrow-minded if you think "Agile is an engineering solution to an engineering problem, designed for developers, not managers." Organizations should have an in-depth understanding of the fundamentals of the creation of agile value, constraints, etc. Via agility, IT can run in a more proactive digital mode, rather than in a reactive industrial mode. To improve overall business agility, many companies have incorporated Agile practices into broader based business (non-development) practices, from strategic planning to customer services. The journey of IT and organizational maturity is the “rocky road from doing Agile to being agile.”

Managing the variety of IT portfolio is also an important step in improving maturity: The variety of IT portfolio is to build a unique and varying set of business capabilities, to enforce agility, harness innovation, and improving IT maturity. Digital IT is dynamic, with a variety of teams to run the variety of IT portfolio. IT has to adapt to changes via managing a healthy portfolio by continuous consolidation, simplification, integration, modernization, cloudification, innovation, and optimization. Unused or under -utilized applications that consume a disproportionate amount of resource when compared to their value, need to be addressed. It takes holistic thinking and planning to treat projects the way and measure the success of business projects as a whole, rather than keeping technology projects separate with silo thinking, and ensure that all business units required for the success of the project have requirement clearly defined with engaged stakeholders and senior business leaders.

If IT is leading, then IT must be structured to lead, high mature IT leaders as top business executives are strategists and innovators, they can make strategic planning, fine-tune organizational structure and processes, build a set of differentiated capabilities, not only mitigate risks but perform risk intelligence, to transform IT as a business enabler and reach the high level of maturity.



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