Monday, June 19, 2017

The Digital Board’s IT Inquiries

IT-friendly board has to ensure management and governance are the interdependent and complementary disciplines that are both enabled by high mature digital IT.

Nowadays, information is the lifeblood, and technology is the disruptive force behind the digital transformation. Thus, today’s digital board need to become more technology savvy and information friendly. The IT-savvy board should gain an in-depth understanding of IT, set the right digital principles, leverage technological visions, and pull all necessary resources for strengthening the weakest links. The digital board’s IT inquiries help to clarify the strategic role of IT in maximizing the digital potential of the company.

How Important can an Information System be in digital business success? Information brings about business ideas; business ideas generate lots of information. However, too many businesses are data rich but insight poor. Digital boards as the directorial role should understand the criticality of information to the businesses today and become insightful advocates to explore information values. Information is raw material when you manipulate the raw material in meaningful ways, which give you the business insight to interpret and utilize, then you can grasp the business opportunities or prevent risks timely. Information comes from the analysis of that data, technology allows for the capture, manipulation, and presentation of information. Information Systems are the backbone and provide valuable information for key decision making. The problems most organizations have are poor information strategy -not understanding why they should do these things in the first place. Poor information management- not understanding what raw material they have to play with; and poor measurement -not applying worthwhile evaluation to it to reveal the inherent value of the information. The board’s oversight of the information management strategy which is an integral part of the business strategy helps to clarify the business goal and evaluate how effective the information system of the business. And information can bring businesses the transformational value and huge wealth to any organization if it is well managed and wisely used.

Who can make better, faster IT decisions? Nowadays IT and its value implication to the business have changed drastically; information becomes the lifeblood of digital business, and digital technology is lightweight but more powerful than ever. IT investment is usually one of the most expensive investments the business ever makes. IT management is not just the business of IT, but the responsibility of the entire company. Every IT decision is the business decision, and the goal is to make timely and effective decisions to benefit the organization for the long run. Some IT organizations are perceived as a support center and change laggards that cannot make effective decisions; while IT organizations also complain that the business partner does not have an in-depth understanding of IT, so the real issue is the quality of communication between business and IT. The board’s oversight of IT management can help to empower IT leaders having a seat at the big table, also remind IT to review and optimize its decision-making scenario. The point is not about arguing who can make faster decisions but to understand the reason for the perception and fix the decision support process, in order to not just making faster, but a better decision. The perception of being 'better' is just opinion until pre-defined measures of success are applied to the decision process. And, interestingly, it’s IT responsibility to empower C-levels including boards to have the right information at the right time in making better decisions, not for making IT decisions, but for doing their own job and making effective business decisions and improving overall organizational maturity.

Can IT become the “digital brain” of the organization, enabling businesses to understand customers deeper? IT savvy board should be able to perceive the digital potential IT can bring to the business. Imagine collecting valuable information about customers in real time and getting that to the right teams inside your company. New technology tools and business models allow a company to capture customer information on a continual basis. The two prime questions any business should understand about customers are: What do they buy and why do they buy it? IT as the information steward that will enable the business to discover the answers and understand customer deeper. IT enables business innovation to create a value proposition that would move your prospects to become your clients; more importantly, to improve customer retention. To the degree that IT can help companies keep in touch with their prospects and clients in a personalized manner, the greater degree of success that a company will experience in comparison to its competition. IT can become known as a revenue rainmaker by associating its efforts directly with sources of income. IT needs a shift from inside-out operation driven to outside-in customer-centric. You are able to spot opportunities to increase revenues. Digital is the age of the customers. The “hard” technology can create such soft touches, to make people feel better about themselves. As the saying goes, "people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care." When IT becomes the “digital brain” of the organization, the business will become more responsive, smarter, innovative, and adaptive.

Information and technology catalyze today's digital businesses. IT-friendly board has to ensure management and governance are the interdependent and complementary disciplines that are both enabled by high mature digital IT, with a comprehensive oversight about building strategic IT to gain the differentiated business competency.


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