Sunday, January 29, 2017

The IT Conundrum with Digital Transformation

There is no one size fits all formula to run a high effective IT, different IT organizations and enterprise as a whole are at the different stage of the business maturity.

Due to the importance of information and disruptive nature of digital technologies, organizations are increasingly looking to the IT function for introducing beneficial change into their business models to improve strategic performance, achieve operational excellence, enforce customer experience, and to gain the long-term competency of the enterprise etc. However, too often, IT acts like an order taker, many businesses still view IT exclusively as a cost center and a support desk. If the business doesn’t view IT as being on the same level, they won’t properly communicate or align with the IT department. So, how to deal with the IT conundrum and run a high effective digital organization?

Transformation needs to be led by transformational leaders: The majority of IT leaders are transactional managers who put most effort on keeping the lights on, no wonder those IT organizations get stuck at the lower level of maturity. For really shifting IT to the digital mode, the CIO must have a "seat at the table" and a voice to holistically advise on strategic business discussions and decisions, transform IT into rule co-maker. Understanding each executive's authentic capability is where organizations need to start - the team of transformational leaders should utilize the multitudes of functions for organizational changes -vision, culture, systems, and operations. IT continues to grow in importance to organizations, both operationally and as a competitive advantage, CIOs need to spend the time on understanding the business issues enough to push back on what they asked for and explain how alternatives can provide more value. With the right leaders are in place at the right time in a business life cycle or condition, the transformation should happen naturally and seamlessly.

Digital transformation involves risks: Transformational change by definition involves risks. There's a fundamental shift happening with the emergence of converging technologies that impact the business through cross-departmental collaboration. But many managers still apply old silo management mindsets to run always-on and always-connected businesses. The result is about the higher risk of conflict and inertia, not something the organization wants in a hyper-connected business environment that demands innovation, speed, responsiveness, and flexibility to succeed. From IT management perspective, it’s critical to break down silos, bridge the gaps, fix dysfunctional roles and relationships between business and IT, mitigate and manage risks effectively in order for the business as a whole to reach digital premium.

Digital transformation should take a holistic approach: Too often transformational change is acted on the basis of improving one part of an organization at the expense of other parts of the organization. The main reason is that up to this point in time most leaders have been silo managers and don't really have the business skills or personality traits to lead transformation and change. IT transformation means rationalizing current IT department and planning to partner with the business to provide insight, service, and solutions in new ways. A transformation might need work cross boxes instead within the box. In most organizations, many of these functional alignment and integration challenges are not exclusive to IT yet the symptoms are often more visible in IT due to the fact that IT work touches, serve, and supports virtually every aspect of the enterprise. These challenges are not easily solved and can not be addressed through the use of a tactical management approach. To deal with change conundrum, IT must design information strategies around decisions. IT needs to engage with the business units to find out how the department is perceived, what the pain points are and to identify opportunities for developing new services or improving/optimizing current one. And the digital CIOs strive to become the strategic leader with better visibility, creative communication and efficient tools to lead change and business transformation with high success rate.

There is no one size fits all formula to run a highly effective IT, different IT organizations and enterprise as a whole are at the different stage of the business maturity, IT can be used as a tool, enabler, catalyzer, or a digital threshold to meet the ultimate goal of an organization's short/medium/long-term strategic plans. The scope of the CIO should extend out beyond IT, to run the business as a change agent.


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