Friday, October 7, 2016

"CIO Master" Book Tuning #114: Reinventing IT via Digitization, Simplification and innovation

IT needs to drive changes and reinvent itself and the business as a whole via digitization, simplification, and innovation.

IT organizations are facing significant transformation, perhaps crossroad is an appropriate word to articulate IT position: Should IT keep running as a transactional support desk or cost center, or can IT reinvent itself as a changing organization to drive digital transformation of the business via digitization, simplification, and innovation?

IT should be seen by any business as a strategic partner and “digital transformer”: The CIO and the IT department effectively enables and facilitates the business strategy and objectives, and ultimately the digital transformation. Forward-looking IT organizations declare they are in the information management business. There are very few businesses today can state that IT does not play a significant role in the day to day operations or even long-term strategic positioning. Organizations need to take that into consideration when establishing strategic goals to manage their digital transformation. To effectively “support” business strategic execution, IT must sit at the table as a business line and be a key player in the development of the business strategy before execution. The focus of IT and the CIO should be business-centric and tightly integrated into the decision process. Further, IT department should not live in a silo, or a function running as a help desk only. Mappings of high-level business processes to technology must be in place to allow for an understanding of the impact of strategic changes, and to open discussion across business lines on the steps that need to be taken to reach strategic goals.

IT should reinvent itself via following simplicity principle, even though complexity is an innate nature of technology: Keep things simple, not simpler. Organizations are indeed becoming more complex.Overcoming complication and managing complexity become one of the biggest challenges in business today. In a corporate world, you will find the attitude of complicating things in systems and procedures and people love to hang on to the complications and express how they are experts in dealing with complications, this is often the case in IT, take the projects as technique challenges only, without “keeping the end in mind,” help to solve business problems with prioritization skills. IT leaders need to be like gardeners, continue to weed out redundancy, and keep IT fit via consolidation, integration, modernization, optimization, and innovation, Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility can drive the team towards complex, but efficient, low overhead practices, rather than just simplicity. There are always constraints, so simplicity implies to build as little as possible (as little output as possible, to maximize the amount of work not done) and maximize outcome (benefit for users/customers).

IT should demystify innovation puzzles and manage innovation in a structural way: The available digital technology just makes innovation easier to do now than in the past, less costly, more easily accessible. Unfortunately, in most of the organizations, innovation is still a serendipity. An enterprise that depends on doing something, again and again, engaging various teams and groups, have less appetite for change.IT leaders need to manage innovation portfolio including both incremental innovation and disruptive innovation in a systematic way. Digital IT is a paradigm shift in role, responsibility, and attitude. The CIO role has never been about just managing the status quo, so the digital shift for IT in some industries is to be innovative with systems of engagement. IT needs to know when to work in the system, and when to work on the system, if you can innovate across the business, regardless of which function you are involved in, be it IT, HR, Finance etc. then you can surely change the shape of what you deliver, not just how it's delivered. Any organization that can capitalize on innovations, be they in-house or externally derived and delivered, is going to be agiler, and ultimately more successful.

Technology is pervasive, business transformation or change initiatives today nearly always involves some form of technology implementation. IT should help the company achieve its business objectives in any way possible and the first step is forging close relationships with the senior execs and business managers to really understand their goals and plans for expanding their area; at premium level, IT needs to drive changes and reinvent itself and the business as a whole via digitization, simplification, and innovation.


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