Sunday, November 20, 2016

Digital CIO’s Three Practices to Build Business Advantage

Digital IT is a paradigm shift in role, responsibility, and attitude.

Digital CIOs are one of the most sophisticated leadership roles in contemporary businesses today. As they are leading one of the most complex and dynamic functions of the business, and managing one of the most intelligent groups of talent in the organization. Especially nowadays forward-thinking organizations are empowering their CIOs to lead changes and drive digital transformation. What are digital CIO’s best or next practices to run a differentiated IT and build business advantage?

  • Information grid: In order to improve IT effectiveness and unleash its potential, IT leaders should make an objective assessment of IT maturity. Create a comprehensive list of the IT organization’s strengths, weaknesses, goals, and objectives based on self-evaluation. The CIO needs to equip with the power of knowledge:
(1) Understand IT strengths and weaknesses.
(2) Understand IT teams strengths and weaknesses.
         (3) Have a comprehensive knowledge of the business and competitors.

Map the information into an information grid. Your goals and objectives will be your drivers. Laser focus on what is good for the business, and what defines success. Because often technology is the disruptive force behind digital innovation, besides strengths and weaknesses analysis, it’s also important to analyze trends. Opportunities and threats cannot exist without a context of interactions, which constitutes an implicit system. Opportunities often double up on strengths and threats often double up on weaknesses. By adding the trends, you're asking the organization to look at what's happening now and what's coming down the pike so they can be proactive in preparing for it.

  • Identify gaps: The CIO needs to know how to play a bridge between what the business understands and what technology understands. He/she would then make sure the two worlds meet to ensure an optimal performing business. What C-level executives really want is a partner, someone who knows what they want before they know themselves, who innovates by understanding the business, as well as what they do; the partner that works both "on the business" and "in the business," not just "for the Business." IT leaders involve co-creating business strategy. This will allow IT to shine in both roles –as enabler and driver. This would then drive products and services to customers at the best possible cost and ensure as high as possible shareholder return on investment. IT is the only functional domain which is at the unique position to oversee business processes and build digital capabilities. Hence, it plays a significant role in identifying the gaps between strategy and implementation. IT proactively works as an integral part of the business to capitalize on opportunity via leading the transformation; IT is a key component in building differentiated business capabilities, and catalyze the business to reach high-level performance. The IT leader is positioned to understand the business across the enterprise. When he/she can accomplish that goal, that is when IT can drive value into the organization and build the business advantage.

  • Propose and manage new ideas: CIOs are expected to constantly propose new ideas and challenging the status quo. Digital IT is a paradigm shift in role, responsibility, and attitude. CIOs who are only putting stress on "have the knowledge" not on "build the knowledge" might be in danger just to preserve the organization and thus create huge constraints for the possible innovation. A confident CIO needs to keep asking, "why? why? why," to manage a healthy innovation portfolio, with incremental innovation in optimizing business processes, as well as disruptive innovations with a structure in renovating business model and upcoming business expansion. Many companies form and grow on the basis of "idea creation," but then get bogged down when trying to "commercialize" those ideas--which requires a different skill set, focus, and culture. IT can bring scientific discipline and disruptive digital technologies to demystify innovation. It needs to break down some outdated rules and takes a systematic approach with robust, but not overly rigid processes for innovation management.

Digital CIOs as top business leaders today need to be Chief Information Officer, Chief Interaction Officer, Chief Innovation Officer, and Chief Improvement Officer, etc. When top leaders, regardless of what type of mind you have, go beyond short-term gain, take calculated risks to tackle complexity and uncertainty, make long-term investments, and develop a series of practices to build the business advantage, organizations have a better opportunity to shift from surviving to thriving mode and manage a smooth digital transformation.


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