Thursday, August 11, 2016

How Responsive Could Digital IT Be?

It’s not a matter of being reactive or responsive. It is not a matter of being fearful or brave. It is a matter to add value to the business or not.

Digital is all about change with continuous disruptions and exponential information flow, a responsive IT means a lot of things for the business’s digital transformation: speed, innovation, agility, ambidexterity, modernization, intelligence, value creation, and maturity, etc. How responsive could IT be in order to ride learning curves, keep the pace of rapid changes, and accelerate the digital transformation of the business?

Running a highly responsive IT means IT needs to be proactive, not reactive: It is the way to run a digital IT and an overall digital organization. However, in most organizations, IT is setting back and waiting for the request. Many CIOs graduate from IT management where their job was to maintain. The transition from a maintenance mindset to a value creation mindset is a stretch for some, but it's crucial to reinvent the tarnished IT reputation. IT has to be configured in a way to understand the business and set processes and build dynamic capabilities to meet the business and market need timely in a continuous delivery mode. IT has to be a strategic advisor to business for proactively understanding the business challenges and work collaboratively to deliver business solutions and maximize revenues. The value of IT shouldn’t be measured via the internal operational IT lenses, but via the business lens, and customers’ perspectives. Running a highly responsive IT needs to get support from front desks to boardrooms, digital thinking means new learning attitude, from the business side, it means to show the constructive dissatisfaction, understands risks, but also grasp growth opportunities for businesses. It takes positive thinking, top leadership teams' empowerment, as well as enterprise-wide support to unleash the potential of IT and reach ultimate goals via bringing higher than expected business performance.

The level of IT responsiveness depends on how well CIOs can balance real technology needs against the risk tolerance of the enterprise: A CIO needs to first understand their business and industry, then evaluate technology based on the value or competitive advantage it brings to the business, and the potential risks -Is the technology proven or is it so new that it presents undue risk to the organization? Usually, IT is accountable for potential risks, that's why CIOs feel cautious about adopting new technologies. Many CIOs prefer to be fast followers to see how technology actually stands up and learning from other’s failure lessons or success stories. So there’s always a compromise to make, and balance to strike for quality and speed. The goal is to be fast enough and taking calculated risks for capturing business opportunities, but be cautious of risks and pitfalls on the way.

IT has to not only improve its own speed and responsiveness but also overall organizational agility: Often the business partners perceive IT as a controller and slow to change, The type of speed issues (such as IT slow to change) comes from gaps created between IT and the rest of the company. When there is no willingness to serve users and on the other way round, no appetite from users to involve IT, the gaps get bigger and negative behaviors may get introduced. It often seems like there is a bad case of not being able to see the forest because of the trees. In order to bridge gaps, CIOs have to recognize the pros and cons and propose concrete activities for improvement. Due to the unique position to oversee business processes, IT needs to play an important role in not just running a highly responsive IT, but building up agile enterprises which can succeed in combining two distinct but interconnected elements— strategic responsiveness and organizational flexibility, with the combination of an innovative culture that promotes responsiveness throughout the company. CxOs will accept CIOs as an ally only if they can perform a proactive contribution to acquiring goals.

To run a highly responsive and highly effective IT, IT management must get a feeler of the business view. IT must be measured through a business viewpoint. That should help in trying new technologies as a business enabler. Secondly, it is the CIO's ability to "sell" the business value at the C-Level. It’s not a matter of being reactive or responsive. It is not a matter of being fearful or brave. It is a matter to add value to the business or not. And IT needs to reinvent itself, to become a business catalyst and value creator, rather than just a cost center and supporting function.



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