Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Running Premium IT with Three Digital Aims

Running a premium IT means to focus on top-line growth, without ignoring bottom-line efficiency.

Digital is all about changes that bring both unprecedented opportunities and risks. IT plays a leading role in such a business transformation, because often technology is the disruptive force of digital, and the information is the lifeblood of the business nowadays. However, traditional IT has been treated as a cost center or a support function, not as a strategic business partner for a long time. As businesses move into the digital future, technology is the fastest-growing arena, which new role should IT aim to be, and how to run a premium IT with clear digital aims to drive digital transformation?

Running IT as a digital brain yard: One of the important goals to run a value-driven digital IT is to make sure the right people get the right information at the right time to make the right decision. IT is more like the “Digital Brain” of the organization because information allows you to build an actionable insight on how to framing the problems and making effective decisions either for achieving customer-centricity or improving operational excellence. It applies to the context and environment in which decisions are made. One significant effect of digitization is increased velocity, complexity, unpredictability, and a need for a faster response to changes in business and industry based on effective and efficient decision making. Running IT as a digital brain with information savvy would help to build a high-intelligent, high agile and high effective organization.

Running IT as a digital innovation engine: IT should not only act as a “left brain” of the organization to focus on analysis and logic, more importantly, it needs to become the whole brain, to leverage the creativity of the right brain to boost business innovation. Often the IT department is so busy with mundane day to day activities, they lose the sense of creativity over the period of time. But to improve IT maturity and become a strategic business partner, IT needs to be running as an innovation engine. Innovation is to have a new perspective on things. The definition of innovation is simple - to gain benefit by doing something different. Innovation is all about doing things better, differentiate yourself from your competitions, run, grow and transform the business. Innovation follows basic rules, which are adapted depending on the company's situation and ambition. Innovation can be categorized as empowered innovation (creative disruption), sustainable innovation (the better version of product/service) or efficiency innovation (process improvement), management innovation (leadership, culture, communication). IT can drive all sorts of innovations, proactively pushing ideas on how to leverage technology to drive revenue growth, increase business productivity, flexibility, and agility. So doing more with innovation, minimize resources on keeping the light on, but invest more in business innovation. Educate the IT team on the business and encourage them to engage with business counterparts in a value-oriented manner.

Running IT as business catalyst and accelerator: IT leaders can envision of future of business, empower talent with effective tools, enable cross-functional collaboration, enchant end customers by optimizing every touchpoint in customer experience, standardize and simplify end to end business process. IT needs to be proactive, not reactive, with another clear aim of being a digital accelerator. In most organizations, IT is setting back and waiting for the request. IT has to be configured in a way to understand the business and set the architecture to deliver the business and market need. IT has to be a consultant and advisor to businesses to maximize revenue. IT needs to engage with the business units to find out how the department is perceived, what the pain points are and to identify opportunities for developing new services or improving/optimizing current ones. CIOs as IT leaders need to become business strategists and relentless change agents, to proactively co-create business strategy and execute it seamlessly. The CIO has a role in selling the merits of IT to the business and quantifying projects in terms of ROI, also the board within the organization must support the CIO. IT leaders need to seek to understand the importance of the solutions IT provides and future initiatives delivered with measured ROIs to the business. IT not only enables a business with the latest technology, but it also needs to walk the talk, exemplifies to be run as a business, does better with less; focuses on delivering business value.

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. Make a list of the positives and negatives for each. Regarding negatives, challenge whether it really is a problem. Is there a way to work through it? 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 run a premium IT aiming at implementing the strategic value of the business.


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