Friday, August 19, 2016

Digital IT: From the Lubricant of a Mechanical Business to the Fertilizer of a Living Organization

IT is like fertilizer to the business soil for enriching workplace and catalyzing business growth. 

At the industrial age, an organization is like a mechanical system, business management applies the reductionist’approaches and practices to improving its efficiency, and IT is the lubricant to the business machine, keep it spinning. At the dawn of the Digital Era, with increasing speed of changes, and the digital nature of hyper-connectivity and interdependence, a business today is more like a living system, needs to keep growing, adapt to environmental changes. Would IT be like fertilizer to enrich workplace and catalyze business growth?

An organization is an organic system: it will be organized as an organic system, with cells that have a function, an infrastructure for input and output and for signaling. Increasingly, enterprises find themselves enmeshed in "ecosystems," whether they like it or not. For the most part, while they can influence and get influenced by these "ecosystems," they have limited "control" over these ecosystems. Hence, to improve business effectiveness and agility, you will eventually break down the hierarchical structure of the organization. But to do so, you must replace the "glue" of the hierarchy with some “soft element” of the organization, its mission, the deeply held core values and the vision of the future it is creating. The principles as a compass will guide all levels of the organization to operate more like the human body operates with the cells (employees) and organs (Dept) of the organization being able to make the decision in a very organic relationship with its environment. IT will be like fertilizer to the business soil for enriching workplace and catalyzing business growth. Software and hardware by themselves will never make a profit if a company’s products, people, and processes are not good and strong enough to compete in the marketplace, and make continuous improvement to meet marketing needs and adapt to environmental changes.

The digital organizations embrace Empowerment, Enablement, and Enlightening: IT is like the fertilizer to keep the working place enriched with these three “E” characteristics because it is at the unique position to oversee underlying business processes, IT has become new capability enablers at higher-change organizations that compete on product/service differentiation. IT enables immediate or timely information access to help people make effective decisions, also generate information necessary to perform a range of business tasks/ functions, all of which require collective human capabilities which are a subset of business capability to perform some part of the action/process. IT also catalyzes business innovation to enlighten customers. Autocratic digital enterprises are limited by their DNA to take benefit of such ecosystems, and IT can help to fine-tune its DNA -the culture for accelerating changes and business transformation.

IT is also shifting from bits, bytes, and lights to information, intelligence, Innovation, Integration, Improvement, Interface: IT is only increasing in importance and relevance with each passing day. The numerous perceptions of IT guide business in the right direction and to deliver services/solutions that address concerns for TCO and future agility. The purpose of the business is to create customers. Organizations keep sowing the innovation seeds to grow and reap the business benefit, IT is like the fertilizer to make it happen, not through serendipity, but through scientific management. Now technology can improve every touch point in customer intimacy, it provides a significant opportunity for IT to influence customer experience directly.  Improve enterprise revenue through better customer loyalty. Just like the natural ecosystem, the business ecosystem is also about balance, the two most basic systemic structures are the balancing cycle and the growth cycle; and their emergent characteristics just happen to be balance and growth, which would imply that any system must have emergent characteristics, an effective IT would maintain both cycles well via adjusting its speed accordingly.

Regardless of how should you describe the importance of IT, the point is that IT needs to be reinvented to achieve its own potential and help the business maximize performance not only for today but for the future? IT shouldn’t just keep the bottom line, but focus on the top line business growth and innovation, also make those invisible “soft” business elements more tangible and measurable, hardening the soft, to become a changing organization in making a digital leap.



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