Monday, January 16, 2017

Digital IT Improves Business Visibility and Maturity

IT provides hindsight, insight, and foresight of the business and overall business visibility.

Traditional IT organizations act as an invisible back office and the support function of the company, to keep the lights on, thus, often IT has been perceived as the cost center in the industrial age. Nowadays, information is one of the most valuable business assets, and technology is often the disruptive force of digital innovation. Perhaps the biggest value-adds from IT is VISIBILITY for itself and for the business as a whole, to improve transparency, effectiveness, and maturity.

IT provides hindsight, insight, and foresight of the business and overall business visibility: Through managing information well, IT allows business departments, stakeholders, and executive clearly see what is happening in the business, from producing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to generate reports, to publishing information on a centralized portal. Too many organizations focus on the “T” in IT which is Technology in the past, high performance IT should focus on the ‘I’ for Information, because IT provides the hindsight of business operation, customer insight for understanding what the customer really needs or will want, technological vision - the foresight of the digital trend and overall business visibility and transparency. The CIO needs to be an enabler of the business strategic objectives. The general expectation of IT has changed. Not only are they being seen as an enabler, but they are also now mandatorily required to give ROI for the investments, and it helps drive the digital transformation.

IT needs to increase its own visibility via guiding the company level business conversations, not just being an order taker: There are two categories at the very top of the CIO’s responsibility: Listen to the needs of the company and perform to the ultimate level to meet those needs. Those two have many subcategories. CIOs need to guide the company's conversation to define a clear vision for the IT department. More often this is easier said than done. But once the roadmap is defined, keep the executive staff engaged and do so often. Make it clear that the direction and accomplishments of IT are directly affected by the entire company's involvement.  Make IT integrated into the company while avoiding making it a separate "stand-alone" department. Digital IT should put emphasis on three “I”s: Interaction, Incrementalism, and Improvement for communication enforcement in developing a trusted, working relationship with correct stakeholders. The connection between IT and business lies in using the common language to help businesses cross that bridge to IT. They should promote training and robust communication policies that keep enterprise-wide goals in sight, without stifling collaboration and creativity.

CIOs can provide the visible innovative leadership and support that is required as traditional hierarchies are challenged and dismantled: Digital IT needs to think and act as the effective change agents because IT is overseeing the underlying business functions and processes for driving changes and digital transformation. Success is far more likely if CIOs and IT professionals are seen as integral team players whose efforts add real value to the deployment of collaborative team structures within the organization. CIOs need to rise above the status quo, gain leadership visibility and take on a new set of activities that have them involved in the strategy development process from the get-go and manage innovation systematically. Innovation is about thinking differently, acting differently, delivering differently, adding value differently, from the status quo. The top leadership team needs to understand that IT as a function is also business related and revenue generating in that the information systems used for business decisions are always being applied to make important decisions for the overall company, and reap the benefit from innovation to gain more visibility.

The faster the top leadership team understands that IT is not just technical, but rather business-driven, the high visible IT can elevate its maturity from “reactive to change” to proactively driving business transformations. IT can also help varying business functions improve visibility via enforcing cross-functional communication and collaboration, and ultimately make the entire organization more visible via building a strong business reputation and strengthen the organizational brand.


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