Thursday, June 29, 2017

Running a Profound Digital IT

Digital IT is profound, intelligent, and innovative. IT should be integral to and knowledgeable of the business, aligned with enterprise objectives, act as an enabler and an agent to changes.

Due to the changing nature of technology and overwhelming growth of information, IT organization can no longer just be operated as a support desk or cost center, being treated as “shallow IT,” or “shadow IT.” IT leaders and professionals also shouldn’t be perceived as geeks or nerds only, they need to become cool digital professionals with an ultra-modern mindset, develop the right set of skills, both hard and soft, and thrive to be artistic technologists or scientific artists, etc. They need to become digital agents to drive changes and bold innovators to advance their organization as well as our society. There are very few businesses today can state that IT does not play a significant role in the day to day operations or even long-term strategic positioning. The CIO has to look forward and actively position the business in the right place to take full advantage of opportunities and avoid the numerous pitfalls on the way. IT leaders have to become the visionary strategist to run a profound digital IT, look deeply into the future that can have a profound effect on where you go, and how you get there steadfastly.

IT is at a unique position to look at the business at a profound level - the business information and processes management cycle: IT is no longer just dealing with technology challenges via an inside-out lens, but solving thorny business problems via outside-in customer perspectives. Therefore, IT professionals have to learn how to listen to the business partner’s pain points and develop a customer-tailored approach with the business unit. It is the ability to align the business requirement with the IT capacity; the strong business orientation to bring the benefits of IT to solve business issues. It means that CIOs are able to constantly and dynamically lead an IT structure that is well-integrated with businesses and well ahead of the business requirement; it’s the ability to interact with businesses in their processes and pain areas; the ability to bring out, not technology driven but business-focused solutions; it’s about driving adoption for application going with change management, which is the toughest piece of IT management. It’s about the ability to manage business solutions via high-performance IT teams in a structural way.

IT and business should enforce profound communication and build the strategic partnership, transform from IT-business alignment to IT-business integration: At traditional businesses with silo setting, often IT and business speak their own dialect and get lost in translation. IT and the business relationship gets stuck at the superficial level, and IT was taking orders from the business or act as a controller to say “NO,” without asking enough open questions or offer alternative solutions. On the other side, non-IT personnel doesn't have an in-depth understanding of technology thoroughly, The issue is not whether IT matters as it clearly does. The issue is whether most business leaders understand how IT matters in order to leverage IT for catalyzing digital transformation. The business needs to have empathy and complexity mindset to understand IT better. Without the profound partnership, many organizations are not foresightful to empower their IT leaders or lack of in-depth understanding of IT capability, technology complexity, innovative potential and the paradox of IT management. IT also needs to educate the business about the complexity of IT integration, governance, risk and compliance management issues. The key challenge is to find a way so that both sides, even though they speak different 'languages' in some cases can communicate effectively.

Information is permeating into every corner of the business, and digital technology makes a profound impact on the organizational design and business management: Compared to the traditional organizational structure with a rigid hierarchy, digital organizations need to continually fine-tune a successful structure to improve customer-centricity. Thanks to the power of technologies, traditional hierarchical lines will phase out and a collective of business partners will emerge working collaboratively to set and achieve organizational goals as well as strategy. The challenge for any business is to find a successful structure that helps to empower people, enforce iterative communication, and harness cross-functional collaboration to deliver better business results. In a world that has been transformed by technology, many old and powerful hierarchies became ‘commoditized,” the digital platforms blur the functional, business, and even industrial territories, and makes it more convenient to run the business as a whole, instead of the sum of pieces. Limited hierarchy works best in a creative environment where the free flow of ideas and their prompt implementation is a key element of success. From IT management perspective, traditional IT is setting back and waiting for the business request. Digital IT has to be configured in a way to understand the business profoundly and set the architecture to deliver the tailored business and market need proactively. It also means that CIOs are able to constantly and dynamically lead an IT structure that well-integrate with businesses and well ahead of the business requirement.

Digital IT is profound, intelligent, and innovative. IT and business communication and collaboration shouldn’t be like oil floating on the water but like the milk mixing with coffee. IT should be integral to and knowledgeable of the business, aligned with enterprise objectives, act as an enabler and an agent to changes. IT plays a significant role to weave all necessary business elements together to orchestrate a digital transformation symphony.  


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