Saturday, July 2, 2016

Digital IT Tuning: From an Isolated Function to an Integrated Business Partner

IT involves co-creating business strategy. This will allow IT to shine in both roles –as enabler and driver.

Information Technology is the backbone of the digital business. In order to lead digital transformation, IT needs to transform itself from a cost center to a value creator, and from a disconnected function to an integral business partner. What are the causes of IT ineffectiveness, and how to shift from an isolated IT to a participated IT and improve IT and overall organizational maturity?

Too often individuals including leaders are so busy looking at the trees that they fail to see the forest: Often IT is at the order-taking mode but does not spend sufficient time on long-term strategic perspectives. Some IT organizations show that communication is poor to non-existent. Reactive, no vision, mission, goals, or objectives other than what the business has handed them. Often IT does not understand the business' lifecycle and plans accordingly. In practice, IT needs to play a different role to the situation at hand, to figure out when IT should lead and when IT should follow. The CIO must have a seat at the executive table that he/she has to be the senior executive and active participant, pushing the bar higher via innovation. IT involves co-creating business strategy. This will allow IT to shine in both roles –as enabler and driver.

IT needs to not just look at symptoms, but also dig through root causes: The reason most IT organizations get stuck in the lower level of maturity is because they are busy on fixing the symptoms, or taking care of immediate problems, with ignorance of digging into the root cause of problems. What should be focused on is the integration of IT into the business decisions and processes. So IT can proactively work as an integral part of the business to capitalize on opportunity via an in-depth understanding of business and leading the transformation, so IT can dig through the root cause of old or emergent business issues, and deliver the best solution to the business problems which meet business’s requirement for the long run and tailor customer’s needs, not just from an IT perspective, but from the business's viewpoint.

Establishing that active participation is the key: As any business looks for ways to innovate or grow, all aspects of the executive team must participate in designing the objectives and strategy. None can sit back and merely respond passively. IT should facilitate the business partners to the right solutions and help to implement them. There is time for IT to follow, and there is time for IT to lead. 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 set.Too often, IT is closed in their communications and is seen as an isolated function. Open and honest lines of communications can help any situation. The conversation has to flow from "How much does IT cost?" towards "How can we apply IT to improve innovation, competitive advantage, agility, etc?" Failure to deliver value in the eyes of the internal and external customers is a failure of IT leadership and a failure of whomever the CIO reports to.

It takes visionary leadership, solid governance process, talent people and the latest technology to climb up maturity and build up a high-performance IT in achieving premium business value.


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