Tuesday, August 23, 2016

CIOs as "Chief Improvment Officer": Three Transitions for Running a High-Mature Digital IT

IT is impacting every business unit and is becoming the driver of business change and digital transformation.

Though IT is permeating into every corner of the business, the majority of businesses still underestimate the IT potential, and only treat IT as a support desk, or even categorize IT as a cost center. Can your companies rely on an IT system that is a commodity (standardized usage of technologies), or is the IT system the core of your business? Is your IT organization only a controller, a business catalyst or even a game changer? The approach depends on the company business and the role that IT plays in defining its positioning in the market. Here are three transitions to make for running a high mature IT.

The transition from a maintenance mindset to a value creation mindset: 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. In order to improve IT maturity, CIOs should have the curiosity to ask big WHY questions and know-how attitude about businesses. Either crafting a good strategy or making a project proposal, IT leaders and managers should be able to demonstrate the full reasoning behind the proposal, in order to shift to proactive mode smoothly. If CIOs are not able to make any dent within executive board, then IT is just acting in the reactive mode. Their proactive solutions will not get enough traction in most cases. Such “fixing symptom” mentality is still complacent, short-sighted and too “ordinary.” Hence, the transition from a maintenance mindset to a value creation mindset will further drive IT as a proactive strategic partner and the business innovation engine. If CIOs are only taking the orders and extremely risk-averse, at the end of the day, they can frustrate their internal staff and business process owners by not delivering much in value-based solutions.

The transition from internal IT management to the management of IT at the organizational level is essential to run a high mature digital IT: Information is permeating in every corner of the business, and technology is a disruptive force behind business innovation. IT is not a function that can be handled only in the IT department or by IT managers. They do not have all the information needed, they do not have all mechanism & authority to collect that information and they do not have all the skills necessary to evaluate the information. IT is business, IT failure is caused by the management of IT rather than just IT management. The responsibility for evaluating the performance of IT investment lies squarely with the C-Level/board leadership team. Without effective guidance/support from the board, the managers in the IT department are perhaps working in the dark. One of the fundamental problems facing CIOs when dealing with their CXO counterparts is where their priorities lie. Therefore, to become a trusted advisor, it is important that the CIO can be seen to "stand aside" from the operational issues, and more importantly, look at things from the top management perspective.

IT needs to transit from inside-out operation-driven to outside in customer-centric: A high mature digital IT needs to strategically work with their variety of clients: They could be other C-level executives, business line managers, general IT users or external customers, etc., to provide business solutions instead of service only. This includes being business savvy, customer oriented and reputable as trusted advisers. IT should not only meet the needs of internal users but also spend more resource and work closely with business partners to digitize the touch point of the end customer experience, contribute to the top line growth of the business. This also means the CIO needs to carefully listen and has to sell or resell the management on allocating funds for the business solutions. IT value needs to be measured via bringing solutions to the clients’ highest priority business problems, and multidimensional business values.
IT is impacting every business unit and is becoming the driver of business change and digital transformation. There are many transitions on the way, it has to keep the digital flow from top-down to bottom-up; from branding on the surface to tuning the processes underneath; from guts feeling to data-driven decisions style, from operation driven to customer-centric mentality. from “Doing more with Less,” to “Doing more with Innovation,” IT mantra, and from doing digital to being digital.


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