Monday, April 3, 2017

Running a Synthesizing Digital IT Organization

Today’s digital organization is more like an organic living thing thriving in the expanded business ecosystem. 

Due to the exponential growth of information and IT consumerization trend, IT organization continues to grow in importance to organizations, both operationally and as a competitive advantage. Forward-looking IT organizations also shift from a technology-driven back-office function to become the information-oriented digital brain yard of their company. They have to do analysis and synthesis all the time for improving business efficiency and effectiveness. If an analysis is a procedure to break down an intellectual or substantial whole into parts or components (loosen, untie, set apart), and the synthesis is the opposite procedure to combine separate elements or components in order to form a coherent whole (put together, combine, integrate). Traditional IT organizations often focus on analytical and technical “ Know How” - fixing the broken pieces; and then digital IT needs to put more emphasis on the synthetic “Why,” and “What for,” to dig through the root cause of problems, think about the end-to-end solutions, doing more for integration, innovation, and making continuous improvement to ensure the organization as a whole is superior to the sum of pieces.

A synthesizing IT organization strives to be the real business partner: IT needs to spend more time on figuring out the strategic why from the business lens and brainstorming with customers about "what's possible" not just "what do you want. This requires a certain depth of understanding the business, and IT strategy as an integral part of the business strategy. IT leaders need to have the seat a the big table to not just provide input but co-create the business strategy. Because what C-level executives really want is IT as the business partner who knows what they want before they know themselves, who innovates by understanding the business, as well as what they do; the true business partner that works both "on the business" and "in the business," not just "for the business." A synthesizing IT organization plays a significant role in identifying and making meaningful strides in closing IT-business integration and IT-customer alignment gaps. IT and the business need to integrate and act as one in a flowing process that's dynamic, because, with the accelerating digital speed, everything is always moving forward promptly.

A synthesizing IT organization focus on connecting, integrating and being holistic: To improve business effectiveness and maturity, IT management must get a feeler of the business view, CIO is an inherently cross-functional role, to help bridge the business and technology, the information and wisdom, the business and ecosystem, and to run IT as the “super-glue” to integrate the whole. The high integration of business and IT can improve the overall organizational responsiveness, effectiveness, performance, speed, and maturity. The challenge and direction for digital transformation now are to keep tuning the overall performance of the entire business. So IT leaders have to continue self-checking: What business value are you helping to create? Which business team members determine the priority of your work? If you don’t receive straightforward, consistent responses, perhaps you have a problem with alignment and accountability, most likely across IT and business. It’s a journey for building a high-performance digital organization, business needs to understand the change and complexity nature of IT, while IT can lead the charge by simply not taking their customer for granted and focusing on customers as if they were in a competitive market. Further, IT is the information steward of the company, it is the aggregation of information and the assessment of that information that creates the intelligence required to define the rules that drive the business. The payoff of IT digital transformation is about how IT will enable the business to change, how fast IT will deliver the required business capabilities effectively and efficiently.  

Running a synthesizing IT means to keep the business digital fit with fluidity: IT is in a unique position to oversee the underlying functions of the entire business. Thus, IT plays an important role in interpreting business issues into a technology-enabled solution, also, leverage necessary resources to solve them. In a corporate world, you will find the attitude of complicating things in procedures or systems, IT, therefore, needs to tuning the business processes for keeping the business digital fit. IT also plays an important role in building up a digital enterprise which can succeed in combining two distinct but interconnected elements- the business agility and organizational flexibility. Modern organization has its own sophistication: the silo functions, the sea of data, and the pool of talents. Running a synthesizing IT organization means to “put things together, and optimize,” IT should consolidate, modernize, integrate, innovate, and optimize its processes, products, services, and capabilities all the time. Applying synthesizing management philosophy is the opposite of taking silo management practices, with the goal to run a hyperconnected and always-on digital organization in a holistic way.

Digitalization disrupts not only the business boundary but also the industry boundary. Today’s digital organization is more like an organic living thing thriving in the expanded business ecosystem. Running a synthesizing IT organization is to focus on the success of the whole business, as a trusted business partner, and take a step-wise digital transformation scenario for improving the business effectiveness, agility, and maturity.


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