Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Digital Board’s Inquiries about IT

Technology is often the disruptive force of the digital transformation. Information could be one of the most time intensive pieces to innovation puzzles.

Digital disruptions are inevitable, and digital transformation is unstoppable. It seems that the industry sector is already the outdated concept. All forward-looking organizations claim they are in the information management business. The Board's role, in large part, is to make good decisions that enhance the value creation for the organizations. BoDs are perhaps not interested in data itself, but surely they would be interested in the V factor -VALUE it can bring to the table. Hence, to gain digital insight and lead business transformation effortlessly, BoDs need to become more information savvy and IT-friendly. They should concern about the potential opportunities and risks the digital technologies could bring to the company. Here are a few digital board’s inquiries about IT.

Are information, functional or business silos likely to be hurdles as we strive to become more digital? Information grows exponentially, organizations shouldn’t just respond to them in a reactive way. The aim of modern Information Management has often been described as getting the right information to the right person, in the right format and medium, at the right time, in order to make right decisions. Information abundance can bring new ideas; ideas have always driven business success. Technology is an enabler of any great ideas. Hence, BoDs as key strategic decision makers in the organization need to understand the information potential and become the IT advocate for accelerating changes. The volume of information collected is used for market evaluation, customer experience management, and strategy management coupled with the real world requirements that support and facilitate the overall operational management. Functional silos often hurdle information flow and stifle innovation. Information is also something that can hinder the achievement of strategic objectives. Unstructured data based decision-making by senior managers has been poor because of the intrinsic value of information reduces decision effectiveness. The value of information technology is a crucial success factor for the digital organization. However, considering many businesses which make a huge investment on sophisticated technology tools that are greatly wasted, because the appropriate processes to leverage those tools are not implemented or adopted. Hence, the board’s oversight of information management can make a significant impact on both business’s bottom line survival and top line growth.

Do we have an incentive structure that promotes collaboration to streamline information flow and achieve its business value? Information potential directly impacts the business's potential of the organization. Information does not live alone but permeates to everywhere in the businesses. Thus, the value of information is not isolated. To gain the business insight, the information management is the business competency of aligning the use of information through the management, assurance (accessibility, reliability, etc.) and exploitation (Collaboratively enabled and fully support the business objectives). The board’s oversight of information management can highlight the importance of information flow, set the tone for building the culture of information-based decision-making, also empower IT leaders to co-create business strategy. IT should first work to identify how information is associated with the valued tangibles of businesses; products and resources; like information flows in processes, and leverage the latest digital technologies to optimize business processes and structures that promote collaboration and streamline information flow to unleash the full digital potential.

Are our information processes and systems compatible with each other and the technologies enabling digital? Information and technology catalyze today's digital businesses. Information brings about business ideas; business ideas generate lots of information. Information Systems are the backbone of the digital business. IT also shifts from "T" driven, a monolithic hardware-based support center to "I" oriented, an information oriented, mosaic nimble digital engine. Today’s digital technologies are more powerful, also lightweight. Information is growing exponentially, and it is humanly impossible to explore all of the "art" out there around a subject or technology. And IT plays a significant role to add those critical pieces properly. IT organizations need to switch from “keep the lights on” survival mode to “doing more with innovation” thriving mode. The BoD’s IT oversight would help to shrink the gaps between business and IT, ensure IT systems compatibility and technology enabling digital, and catalyze IT to reach the high level of maturity from a back office support center to the digital engine of the company.

Technology is often the disruptive force of the digital transformation. Information could be one of the most time intensive pieces to innovation puzzles. The value of information is qualitative, measurable, and defined uniquely to an organization. If done well, information can unleash the business’s full potential and maximize its multidimensional values. Hence, the digital boards today should put IT management oversight on the top agenda. Great boards are heterogeneous, inquisitive, intelligent, effective, innovative and influential, they have to focus on both performance and compliance. All of these require thinking, learning, asking questions, to sharpen “directorship” for getting digital ready.


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