Thursday, August 25, 2016

Five Digital Capabilities to Improve IT Performance

The pervasive digitization requires both business and technology professionals to rethink how things are done in organizations.

IT plays a significant role in building business competency and driving digital transformation. IT needs to continually assess its own capabilities and evaluate overall performance via multidimensional lenses and via a set of questions, such as: How to map IT strategy to business strategy? What things are in place that will enable the business strategy? What can be done to strengthen them? What things are in place that will inhibit or endanger the business strategy? What can be done to minimize them? Are the right skills in place? Are projects delivered not just on time, on budget, but more importantly on VALUE? Are costs in line with the long-term plan and short-term goals? How can IT make a continuous delivery of improving its own performance and overall business results?

Business optimization: The “reach and range” flexibility that now exists removes barriers that have existed in the past.The lightweight and powerful digital technologies provide businesses great opportunities to break down silos, optimize the business from management, organizational structure, and process management perspective, in order to streamline digital flow, improve customer experience, and enforce cross-functional communication and collaboration. The pervasive digitization requires both business and technology professionals to rethink how things are done in organizations. IT as a conductor to help integrate/optimize/orchestrate business processes to facilitate the business outcome, usually through technology or data in and of itself for paving the path to digital transformation. IT role is also to be a facilitator to business processes and 'service broker' to align business strategy and goals with automated solutions.

Decision quality management: Information and decision making are interdependent. Information, principally more than data and knowledge alike, carries fundamentally higher entropy than the other two do. The value of IT is providing the right information on demand to make or arrive at a strategic business decision. The information provided should be accurate, precise and relevant so that decision-making process is more successful. Information Management is the complex domain. IT enables a complete “decision quality management” (DQM) life-cycle, also known as the ‘IT OODA’ -Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act scenario. IT is the lifeblood to make this decision life-cycle possible.

Innovation: IT should enable business innovation with disciplines and the right tools (such as collaborative platform, analytics tools., etc) at the organizational scope. IT enables business innovation to create a value proposition that would move your prospects to become your clients; more importantly, to improve customer retention. The advent of the SMAC (Social, Mobile, Analytics, Cloud) technologies and the growing increase in IT revenue generating initiatives around the globe. The CIO is also in a unique position to align process, technology, and people, from generating ideas on applying technology and data assets to drive value, the oversight is needed in managing innovation life cycle.

Digital transparency: Digital blurs functional borders, territorial borders, organizational borders, and even industrial borders, transparency becomes the lubricant to bridge IT and business gaps, as well as build trust relationship. When you are pushed to show transparency, IT usually revert to "look how many hours" not "here is what we delivered." That causes IT to look at efficiency (which is internal), vs. effectiveness (which is external). This combination leads to the transparency side of the fence. Priorities (business Value) are clear and no longer look arbitrary. When IT speaks the business language, it shows respect for the business and their work too, the credibility increases and transparency is achieved. Business oriented metrics allow for true discussions of cost/value trade-offs. Technology abundance is not for its own sake, but to solve either business problems or human challenges. Hence, IT plays an important role in interpreting business issues into a technology solution. Also, leverage necessary resources to solve them in a transparent way.

Agility: Agility is the business ability to adapt to changes. Agility plays its part in the business dynamic as a measure of the enterprise's capability to assess, align, adapt and change to innovative launches, which create new avenues for revenue and the defined speed in which to capitalize on those opportunities. When successful, the creation of market demand where none existed previously occurs. The key to that success in today's "instant access culture" is unlocked when IT and business are intrinsically linked, that require agility is a strategy in and of itself. Agile is not just a set of practices, but a leadership philosophy and management approach to leverage resources effectively for building a cohesive project portfolio with all right building blocks to implement a capability-based strategy.

In order to run IT as a business, besides building the good products and solutions, IT needs to know how to promote its products and services. IT leaders and  professionals need to know how to promote their services and solutions like any software company with a product or a service to sell. Running IT as a business means IT understands what’s the customer’s true need, help to solve their problems, but also transform from a cost center into a value center via evaluating IT performance from both effectiveness and efficiency lenses and beyond.


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