Sunday, April 9, 2017

Setting IT Priority to Lift its Maturity

An IT organization with high-maturity not only adapts to the changes but plays a pivotal role in setting the right priority and driving the digital transformation of their company proactively.  

Traditional IT organizations are often overloaded and understaffed, get stuck to “keep the lights” only. A trend like the digital transformation provides a great opportunity for IT to shine and reinvent its tarnished image from the cost center to the digital engine of the company. Forward-looking IT organizations empower CIOs and leverage IT in building differentiated business capabilities and accelerate businesses' long-term growth. So, how can IT set the right priority and lift its maturity from a reactive order taker to a proactive digital transformer?

The challenge is to prioritize what you know about and keep an eye open for signs of things you don't know about: Velocity and uncertainty are now the digital new normal. Digital strategy execution is not linear steps, but a nonlinear dynamic continuum. Business executives including CIOs need to keep an eye open for signs of things you don’t know about and make the necessary strategic adjustment for adapting to the ever-changing business dynamic. The whole point of dynamic planning, not a static plan, is to keep iterating, learning and working on a rhythm of sustained delivery, that includes planning and adjustment. However, in reality, business leaders often revert to "just get the job done!" without stopping to clarify what, exactly is the job that is supposed to be done. It is the equivalent of putting a highly creative person on a production line, you will get exactly what you paid for, a re-created production line process. IT is the only function in an organization which has the touch point with all other functions and provides the necessary integration between them through efficient business processes and information systems. Therefore, to set the right priority, and become more customer-centric, CIOs must go out and talk with customers to understand their tastes and current and future needs. Digital is the era of innovation, the digital mantra of IT is “doing more with innovation.” So, it is important to leverage resource and set the right priority for innovation management even there is the pressure to "keep the lights on."

Digital IT leaders have to show that the organization is "playing to win" not just trying not to lose: Forward-looking organizations must put effort on building the competitive advantage and help the business gain the long-term winning position. Without this, they will never have resounding buy-in at the middle and bottom of the organization where execution really lives, and thus, conflicts of priorities and silos will continue to hinder progress. The pitfall is that often the top managers haven’t done enough to set the right priority and communicate strategies thoroughly with employees. For that to change, managers must be in the room building the strategy through collaboration and consensus building, they should facilitate ideation session that uncovers the big and innovative ideas that disrupt complacent and conventional thinking. Prioritization is critical because the alternative is a land grab for resources. The objective shouldn't be to work on only those projects for which you have staff, it should be to maximize what you can accomplish through creative leverage of your talent pool and build business competency. In practice, this means a well defined and trainable approach to defining strategic goals and measurements, cascading them out to front-line teams, clear methods and personnel to effect improvements, make regular reviews to chart progress and fine-tune efforts.

Continuously try to improve/develop/change everything in a prioritized order as long as it creates a more long-term business advantage and solves the critical business challenges: Digital transformation is the ongoing journey, with the updated management philosophy and practices. Let the top management decide strategy and devolve the implementation of that strategy to others. It needs to have great teamwork and synergy between the strategists and executioners, senior and middle management, set the right priorities and laser focus on doing things really matter to achieve strategic goals. Regular communication and update is a great way, as everyone knows, the finger pointing becomes a huge roadblock to the success of digital transformation. This well-prioritized strategic implementation should be intensive and highly effective, enabling an organization to get all the right people, tackling a challenge from all the right angles, all at once, which in turn results in the optimal business solution. Hence, digital management systems need to be holistic and comprehensive, also systematic and artistic. It is a strategic level approach to solving the entire problem in a structured way.

To adapt to the increasing speed of changes, organizations have to be nimbler about updating technology and managing information effectively. To survive the long term may involve more planning, prioritization, and innovating. An IT organization with high-maturity not only adapts to the changes but plays a pivotal role in setting the right priority and driving the digital transformation of their company proactively.  


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