Thursday, July 7, 2016

Running Digital IT from “Outside-In”

The digital revolution means that channels to customers.

Traditional IT organizations are inside-out operation-driven, and the company relies on an IT system via standardized usage of technologies, but often treated as the commodity. Nowadays, at the dawn of the Digital Era, information is one of the most invaluable business assets and technologies are disruptive forces behind the digital transformation. How to run a digital IT from “Outside-In,” as a customer advocate and a business differentiator?

The digital revolution means that channels to customers: Digital is the age of customers. IT has both internal business customers and end customers. IT plays a crucial role in optimizing and digitizing every touch point of customer experience and improving overall customer satisfaction. Embracing digital is inevitable as that is now part of the business venture. From the days when geeks sat in the corner and talked with mainframes to where they contribute significantly and directly to the business model, vision, as well as customer centricity. Businesses need people who are passionate about exploiting information enabled by information technology to work at the heart of the enterprise. As organizations that do not respond to external environmental changes will quickly outcompete as more innovative enterprises take their customers. Companies across sectors ultimately respond to the external environment as geopolitics, rapid innovation, and social expectations change the business landscape and blur the digital territories.

CIOs have to get the transformation agenda right to refine IT reputation: IT does matter. But, not IT as a silo specialist function, but as an outside business partner. The issue is the business context definition. The approach depends on the company business and the role that IT plays in defining its positioning in the market. To put simply, IT faces unprecedented opportunity to refine its reputation, also needs to take more responsibility as a true business partner. The trusted expert who understands a lot about the performance dynamics of the tech sector, and to be seen as a value-added participant in conversations regarding the need to increase profit, market penetration, reduce risk, and to increase the velocity/effectiveness of every dollar spent. Change is not for its own sake, every change needs to have a noble business purpose, and IT as a change agent needs to well engage business conversations. It is an opportunity to demonstrate the execution of responsibility.  What's missing in many organizations is the CIO's ability to question the business' requirements and justifications used for IT-based projects. They also have to advocate for "departmental immersion" and other strategies to help IT become more integrated and aware of the organization as a whole. And CIOs have to get the transformation agenda right and have access to both external and internal resources to achieve the desired ROI.

The next practice of practicing IT management is to live as "customers": A valid strategic objective and the strategy mapping allow you to first understand your customers and what they value, and then identifies how to best characterize that value through project portfolio management, define key indicators, and then define those measures appropriate to best assess the performance of these indicators because they show you how well they satisfy or delight customers. Digital is the age of empathy. The difficult challenge is not just launching a successful team, but maintaining their motivation and focus. One of the mistakes that IT even make is to run IT project as a purely technical challenge, without “keeping the end in mind” - the customer needs and business goals. So being customer-centric is a strategic objective, not just a performance indicator. CIOs really need to evaluate the issues, do the due diligent, asks the right questions and pick the right software/hardware that can do the job. They must be concerned as to whether a healthy project portfolio can maximize business value and improve customer satisfaction, and optimize business capabilities.  

Running an Outside-in IT starts from mind shift of the IT leaders, the CIO plays a change agent role in business transformation via systematic thinking and well thought-out planning, IT leaders are business strategists, not just transactional managers, CIOs will ultimately lead to recognition of the efforts by the executive peers, and thus the perception of the value of IT, in general, will receive greater esteem within the business and in the relevant industry and ecosystem.


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