Thursday, February 2, 2017

How does IT handle investigations of innovative business solutions?

CIOs need to be creative enough to think out-of-the-box for embracing great ideas; and logical enough to plan, engineer and follow through.

IT plays a critical role in building business competency. IT has itself transformed to create a new competitive advantage via building new products, new services, and delivering tailored business solutions. But many of today’s C-suites are unaware of what is technologically possible now or in the future. Digital is the age of options, it provides the opportunity to think the new way to do things, so it forces IT leaders to get really creative on how they architect and implement change, and how IT handles the investigation of innovative business solutions, to change the business’s perception, reinvent its tarnished reputation and improve the overall business maturity.  

CIOs need to be creative enough to think out-of-the-box for embracing great ideas; and logical enough to plan, engineer and follow-through: Though that most of IT operations involve analytical and logical work, some argue it is the creative mind better suited for top leadership, and CIO as “Chief Innovation Officer” is one of the most appropriate titles for today’s digital IT leaders. It is imperative to have the CIO  think of new and uncommon ways of how IT can contribute to the corporation and help the business to make the right strategy with a growth mindset. Businesses are looking for IT to add new innovative methods for management of complexity, develop the next practice for business transformation, investigate innovative business solutions, improving quality, or optimizing business capabilities, etc., and to ensure IT is strategically positioned to be ahead of where the business is moving next. Digital is the age of innovation, any leadership role, especially a CIO, needs to be better-rounded than to have a title of "logical" or "creative." They should be good at both. A logical mind can follow directions and take a step-wise approach, but a creative mind can make a difference. A CIO has to be logical enough to plan, engineer, and follow-through, but more importantly. A CIO needs to be creative and persuasive in order to get their ideas approved and funded.

Encourage IT talent to gain business acumen and encourage them to see the old problems from every direction and find alternative solutions: Innovation is not always equal to the latest gadget, it’s about people, culture, process, partnership, manners, etc. Hence, IT has to take a holistic approach to handling the investigation of innovative business solutions, not for fixing symptoms, but to cure the root cause and create business differentiation. To break the mold, IT needs to rethink itself as an innovative hub of the business composed not only of technical ‘gurus,’ but rather of business ‘gurus’ who also happen to be technically proficient, so they can understand the real-world business problems deeply and investigate innovative business solutions from the customer’s lenses, not from IT perspective. Many legacy businesses come with a legacy mindset, the old way to do things, lack the important elements to spark innovation, vision, passion, and progression. So, it’s important to educate IT team on the business and encourage them to engage with business counterparts in a value-oriented manner, ask tough questions, channel energy, enthusiasm, and ideas, to not only come out one solution to the old or new business problem but multiple solutions and manage innovation in a structural way.

IT should also handle investigations of innovative business solutions via evaluating and recognizing their innovative vendors and partners: Businesses are looking for innovation capability from their IT service providers. The innovation capabilities IT vendors can provide to their clients are to connect the dots via borrowing the fresh idea from totally different industries or geographical boundaries. IT vendors work with their clients across industries, across territories, accumulate many success stories or failure anecdotes to benefit their clients, for adopting the best solutions, and avoiding pitfalls. The superior IT vendors provide tailored and innovative solutions to not only fix the specific problems but also optimize the underlying functions or processes that the client-side depends on for competitive advantage. They are expecting vendors to figure out ways to perform the IT lifecycle, whether they are doing hardware or software or a combined integration, with less drain on their organization, they also expect vendors to deliver flexible, innovative and high-quality customer-tailored solutions. Their expertise is not only technical specialty, more importantly, they can also deliver the outside box thinking and expansive talent pool, culture wisdom, and process innovation.

Hence, in order to be Chief Innovation Officer, today's CIOs need to be “Chief Investigation Officer,” to truly understand business problems via different angles, see around the corner and underneath the surface. Regardless of which industry or organization you are in, being an innovative leader will need to master the art of creating unique, differentiating business solutions from piles of commoditized technologies and take advantage of the emergent digital trends as well, with the ultimate goals to run, grow and transform the business, maximize business potential and achieve high-performance business results.


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