Friday, July 8, 2016

Three Digital Balances IT Needs to Strike

IT leaders need to be cautiously optimistic and taking the calculated risk in running a digital IT to strike the right balance.

IT is a system which has an emergent property of individual human beings making sense of experiences in time and place, IT system makes interactions with the environment to collecting, storing, processing and delivering information, and ensure the right people getting the right information at the right time to make the right decision. IT organization plays a significant role in both keeping the business bottom line and contributing to the top line business growth; setting the standard for risk management, as well as leveraging the latest tools and platforms to enable innovation; IT is also crucial to fix the handy, urgent business problems, as well as digitizing the touch points of customer experience for the business’s long-term transformation. In practices, there are three digital balances IT needs to strike in order to improve its efficiency, effectiveness, agility, and maturity.

Transaction vs. Transformation: Digital means change with increasing speed. As we all know the only "Certainty" or a "Constant" is "CHANGE." Uncertainty is a given, just as it has always been and always will be. Back to fundamentals, “keep the lights on,” is still one of the most important responsibilities for IT to be “transactional,” which refers to operational transactions, taking input at one end and churning it out at the other with processes in between. But besides that, IT needs to spend more resources and time for doing innovation and become “Transformational,” which means redesigning existing transactions to something new, being innovative and creative and also introducing completely new transactions with higher efficiency, and hopefully with a strategy that enables the organization fast-growth. IT can be transformational and needs to be more audacious when the opportunity arises and it is appropriate to seize it. It's easy enough to churn out the same old things even with minor modifications but to undertake real transformational change requires leadership, know-how, confidence, and strategy. And IT leaders must become a digital transformational leader, not just a transactional technology manager. Until then, the rest of the business will feel that if the transactional CIO is talking, it's because there are problems, not opportunities, and won't want to listen. And there is no way IT can reinvent its reputation and unleash its digital potential.

Order Taking vs Order Making: There is the time to sow, and there is time to reap; there is time to lead, and there is time to follow. This is particularly true for running IT today. IT will always have a role in doing internal support to meet internal customers' need. The trick is separating the internal actions so they run on "autopilot," and having the CIO focus on managing a portfolio of strategic projects that have a quantifiable business return. That means IT should make continuous investment in automation, optimization, and innovation. In practice, IT needs to do the best to satisfy internal customers business requests. However, IT should never just take the orders blindly, but ask big WHY for business justification. When IT considers their customer as the entity who buys the company's goods and services, some great things start to happen; CIOs should ask themselves what strategic advantage they can provide to the business and work to have the rest of IT learn the business they're in. Changing IT away from the order taker role is more than about semantics. Address 'The Long Tail' - that is, get beyond just the top strategic initiatives and figure out how to also address the needs of niche groups. The next big strategic breakthrough may well come from one of these long tail projects. And IT leaders need to actively participate in strategic conversations to co-create strategies.

Stability vs. Agility: Many forward-looking organizations are running a bimodal IT to both keep IT stable and improve its agility; running a reliable IT system, as well as improving its changeability. CIOs' proactive in trying new things shall not get confused with spontaneity or do things without a plan. From tuning the organizational structure to optimizing business processes, all need to be well aligned A CIO needs to be forward-looking to see where relevant technology, and their industry, is heading. Technology can be efficiency-driven, or it can be disruptive - changing the industry. It is the CIO's job to discern the difference and make a business case. There are risks and return on investment sharing models to experiment with new technologies. But the organization leadership should have a culture to set a goal/metrics that foster emerging technological trends and apply them to their business.

IT leaders need to be cautiously optimistic and taking the calculated risk in running a digital IT to strike the right balance. The CIO is responsible for the new technology adoption, also maximizing the usage of existing technologies. The CIO's role is more than strategy implementer and into strategy maker or at least with the influential power to shape and keep in harmony with the business, market, products, and resources, improve efficiency on the transactional side of the business, but put more resources on the digital transformation.


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