Wednesday, March 15, 2017

What are the CIO’s Top Priority to Overcome Challenges in Digital Transformation?

IT leaders today overcome the digital transformation challenges depend on their ability to think, adapt, proactively plan and execute.

Digital provides significant opportunities for business growth, also brings unprecedented risks to cause business fall. Never before has IT and business been so closely tied together. Never before has technology moved more quickly and missteps have larger trajectory impacts on every aspect of the business. Forward-looking companies across the industrial sectors empower their IT organization to drive changes, what are the CIO’s top priority to overcome challenges in digital transformation?

IT as a strategic partner: The digital CIOs must move away from pure IT manager,  and be a true business partner and strategist. Especially as more and more enterprises are leveraging IT for revenue generating initiatives; what some refer to as IT "is the business." IT will not "be the business" if it does not focus on the top prioritized business initiatives. To improve maturity, IT organizations need to be assertive in preparing and engaging effectively and efficiently with their business partners in strategic initiatives. With the growth in enterprises leveraging IT for revenue-generating initiatives, but IT has the history/tradition of being a very expensive cost center, often with the little demonstrable value that typically misses its commitments. What is the next action to enable the organization's strategies? CIOs have to overcome the challenges to maintaining and empower such a role as business’s strategic partner, and technologies, the source of funding, competition, will better sustain the current competitive advantages or being sources for new ones. Digital CIOs should set and communicate the forward-looking vision, and enable the business to achieve strategic goals.

Speed up to adapt to the rapid change: IT is only increasing in importance and relevance with each passing day. Business expects IT to figure out ways to make the business agiler. The biggest IT challenge is the pace at which the IT executive's responsibility for business operations, effectiveness, efficiency, agility, and continuity is outpacing his or her authority to make those areas a success. Can the current IT system handle a shock in the business tomorrow? The shock could be both positive and negative, such as strategic business transformation, a new large customer, new vendor relationships, loss of business and need to scale down, M&A activities, etc. So it forces IT leaders to get really creative on how they architect and implement change, to ensuring IT is strategically positioned to be ahead of where the business is moving next while, at the same time, being so tactically pinned down by existing legacy infrastructure and inefficient/outdated business processes. In the industrial age, many organizations still get stuck with the lower level of maturity, the business is struggling with overly restrictive hierarchy and bureaucratic mentality, the silo walls and infighting are all the cause of business frictions. There are many instances where IT managers and risk management experts are in positions to play politics for the budgets rather than a focus on organizational matters. The CIO can provide holistic business insight via effective information management. IT should be run as the change department of the company to break down silos and keep information flow as well as business flow. IT can leverage the emergent digital technology trends to optimize business processes and keep tuning organizational structures for harnessing cross-functional communications and collaborations and speed up the business to adapt to the rapid changes.

Innovation Management: Digital opens the new chapter of innovation, it provides the opportunity to think the new way to do things. Isn't that what innovation is all about: do it better, differentiate yourself from your completion, run, grow and transform the business. Innovation is not just about technology, Innovation is not always equal to the latest gadget, it’s about people, culture, partnership, manners, etc.  So educate the IT team on the business and encourage them to engage with business counterparts in a value-oriented manner. While nowadays, technology is more often the business disruptor regardless of sectors, and IT needs to become an innovation engine to catalyze their business growth. Being able to become innovative or close is being able to think, and create new things based on its own needs, true knowledge is the optimal solution. IT is uniquely positioned to observe processes across the enterprise. Sometimes when one business area has a new product that can be used by another, IT leaders can connect the dots to come up with new innovative solutions. IT should enable business innovations with disciplines and the right tools (such as collaborative platform, analytics tools., etc) at the organizational scope. CIOs are also in a unique position to align process, technology, and people, from generating ideas on applying technology and data assets to drive value, the oversight is needed in managing innovation lifecycle seamlessly.

IT and Customer alignment: Since the biggest challenge to business success is IT and IT's biggest challenge is understanding the business expectations. IT system will fail and people will make a mistake, the biggest challenges for IT leaders would be the inability to effectively communicate the importance of delivering to expectations vs. requirements, to transform IT organization from a cost center to value creator. Digital is the age of people, digital IT should be run from an outside-in customer perspective, to move from IT-business alignment to IT-customer alignment and IT-business integration. Perhaps it is time to "align IT to the customer" rather than "align IT with the business" to put one ahead of the change curve and look to leverage the amazing cross-generational digital professionals’ innovation and drive. Customer experience is being the main driver for differentiation and in the end profitability. Customer experience isn't about improving things for the customer at any cost. It's about having the real insight to make confident business decisions that result in unambiguous ROI.

IT project portfolio and investment management: IT is the business. There should be no such thing as IT projects, each level of business transformation management -portfolio, program and project management should focus on different business objectives but works cohesively to deliver business value with effectiveness and efficiency. Nowadays, IT investment can either leap or break a business. Hence, it is important to make the right business justification for running IT as a business. Turn the costs from IT to the business (demand spend), create a group in the business, let them determine IT spend, take the burden from the CIO. Once you start treating projects that way and measure success of business project portfolio as a whole, rather than keeping technology ones separate with silo thinking, ensure that all business units required for the success of the project have requirement clearly defined with engaged stakeholders and with senior business leaders on the steering committee, you will see the success of all projects increase and keep running the healthy IT portfolio to make continuous delivery.
How IT leaders today overcome these digital transformation challenges depend on their ability to think, adapt, proactively plan and execute, with a sense of humor. Digital CIOs are born to change. Digital means flow, digital IT has faster speed, and they also have to strike the right balance between stability and agility, standardization and innovation. With the multitude of manageability, IT can deliver the best solution to the business problems which meet the business’s requirement or tailor the customer’s needs. IT can also proactively work as an integral part of the business to capitalize on opportunity via driving changes and leading the digital transformation effortlessly.


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