Friday, January 20, 2017

Three “Don’t” in IT Digital Transformation

Managing a “Do”s and “Don’t”s list helps IT leaders set priority right, clarify the digital principles, and prevent IT from failing to achieve the expected result.

With the increasing pace of change and overwhelming growth of information, the IT role is becoming far more than simply keeping the lights on, but is transforming to significant business enablement and catalyzer. As the CIO continues to become a more critical and integral member of the C-suite, IT leadership holds the keys to making the company more efficient and effective, implement processes and build capabilities that drive the company to the next level; keep eyes on what happens today, pay more attention to the potential pitfalls, also be focused on what is next. Here are three “Don't” in IT digital transformation.  

Don’t try to solve the wrong cause of problems: Either for individuals, organizations, or society as a whole, the problem-solving capability is crucial to surviving and thriving. A solution is nothing if the problem is not perceived, therefore, creating the awareness of the problem is the first step to making a solution be understood and accepted. Often times, people have a tendency to try to fix a symptom which results from the actual cause of the problem. The wrong cause of the problem will perhaps grow new or larger problems and create the disconnect between IT and the business. Also, when they do this, they allow problems to grow under the surface, out of sight, out of mind, make it worse, or until it’s too late. So, trying to fix the wrong cause of a problem will waste time and resources, increase anxiety and lead ineffectiveness. The better way to frame the problems that cross all industries is to keep peeling back the layers to find the root cause through asking "Five WHYs," or taking systematic approaches to discover the real cause, address it and solve it smoothly.

Don’t get the traps of solely focusing on quantifiable benefits or short-term result: Digital transformation is a long-term journey, to move up the IT maturity level as the strategic business partner, IT needs to shift from transactional mode to transformational mode. IT leaders shouldn’t just spend all resources on gaining some short-term result. CIOs need to keep collecting feedback from the business upon how to improve IT services and satisfy customers, manage a healthy “run, grow, and transform”  IT portfolio in calibrating IT growth with the steadfast pace, and spend more time on how they can deliver ‘competitive capabilities” to the business as many businesses will plateau without IT. Thus, to avoid the trap of nearsightedness, the long-term plan needs to be a cross-functional collaborative effort, not something the IT team does alone in a corner. IT needs to discuss with the business on how it can facilitate, enable and catalyze the business growth. Discuss timelines and set goals, identify metrics and KPIs that will be shared across teams, and talk about funding and resource commitments, to strike the right balance of quick gain and long-term perspectives.

Don’t make silo design and technology for its own sake, or measure IT from inside out lenses: Every IT project is the business initiative; it needs to be hand-crafted to suit a specific need. Dated or silos of technical knowledge or lack of resilience or reuse in the design of things will add more burdens on keeping IT on the maintenance mode. To keep digital fit, IT needs to weed out the waste, and manage application consolidation, rationalization, modernization, integration, and optimization lifecycle effectively. Another sign of a poorly run IT department is the way in which the business leaders choose to measure them. If IT measurement too much focuses on IT operation and controlling cost, and then it fails to show the business value that IT brings. This can lead to a lack of trust from the business towards IT and IT is perceived as the cost center and support desk only. Thus, it is important to define how you will measure success in meeting that purpose and vision, ensure that these measures are qualitative, quantitative, and persuasive to lift IT as the equal business partner and contribute to building business competency.

Managing a “Do”s and “Don’t”s list helps IT leaders set priority right, clarify the digital principles, and prevent IT from failing to achieve the expected result. It takes visionary leadership, solid IT management discipline, talented people and the latest technologies to climb up maturity and build up a high-performance IT for achieving the premium business value.


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