Saturday, July 15, 2017

CIOs as Chief Improvement Officer: How to Prioritize IT to Get Digital Ready

Nowadays IT organization is like the spinal cord for the organization - integrating various functional abilities to bring out technology driven business solutions. IT also has to take the multiple responsibilities for “running, growing, and transforming” business. However, the majorities of IT organizations still get stuck at the lower level of maturity, often overloaded and under-delivering. The CIO as the IT leader has to be able to inspire and encourage with his/her vision and generate conviction and enthusiasm for the missions of the company and the IT division, regardless of how exciting or mundane they may be. IT leaders also should leverage the limited resources and maximize the talent potential, set the right priority, motivate the IT team to think strategically, do things innovatively, and work closely with customers to provide tailored business solutions and make constantly deliveries.

Prioritizing IT for the strategic alignment: To overcome IT fatigue and improve IT effectiveness, IT has to switch its management lens from inside-out operation driven to outside-in business focus. For that to change, managers must be in the room building the strategy through collaboration and consensus building, The prioritization roadmap is a methodology that every CIO or IT organization needs to create according to their own realities and capacities and prioritize IT for the strategic alignment. IT has to oversee the full set of the business requirements to ensure the cohesiveness and to determine all the customers, users, and stakeholders, and obtain their involvement. In practice, this means taking a well-defined approach to defining strategic goals and measurements, cascading them out to frontline teams, using clear methodologies and personnel to effect improvements, making regular reviews to chart the progress and fine-tuning efforts. The pitfall is that often the top managers haven’t done enough to set the right priority and communicate strategies thoroughly with employees. Without effective communication and prioritization skills, the gaps between IT and business are enlarged, and IT just keeps "busyness," without solving real business issues and increasing the strategic value. Prioritization is critical because the alternative is a land grab for resources. The objective of IT prioritization 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 limited resource to build business competency.

Prioritizing IT for “Doing more with innovation”: Due to fierce competitions and rapid changes, innovation becomes the core competency for surviving and thriving of digital businesses today. The challenge for running high performance IT is to set the right priority, manage the limited budget and resource, to “Do more with innovation.” CIOs need to have information technology insight and foresight upon potential opportunities to retool business, reimagine growth possibilities and manage innovation effectively. Innovative CIOs need to work closely with the business partners, take thorny business problems, collect feedbacks, discover optimal solutions for them. They should also develop the strategy and practices to manage innovation in a systematic way because often technology is the disruptive force behind innovation and information is the “gold mine” to come out great ideas and refined into the business value. IT leaders should facilitate ideation session that uncovers the big and innovative ideas that disrupt complacent and conventional thinking. They can also help to fine tune the "DNA" of the company to build a creative workplace. IT can optimize an idea management scenario, increase value propositions, and run a highly innovative IT organization.

Prioritizing IT for speeding up digital transformation: There are too many things in the daily agenda of IT, keep the lights on, take orders from the customers. The business perceives IT as the controller, slow to change. Although technology is more often than not, the disruptive force for business and industry innovation, IT organizations seem to have a tendency to align with the slow changing parts of the organization. Many IT leaders cite mistakes in managing the demand for IT services or support, either by not setting the right priorities well with the business units or just taking on too much and crushing their team. There are different aspects of a business change at different rates - they experience the pressures for change differently. The CIO must make the digital shift from reacting to the change to proactively drive changes and run IT as a change agent. The CIO can only set the right priority choice and speed up to drive changes if they have the information available to them and proactively understand businesses and customers first to avoid changing for the technology’s sake and operate IT with the full speed without too many distraction and misunderstanding.

CIOs are going to prepare for continuous digital disruptions, build change as an ongoing business capability, create some capacity to make changes. IT needs to act as the trustful business partner to advise the business for figuring out the better business solution, not just the customer asking for.  It is important to set up a prioritization process to run a healthy IT management portfolio, simplify operations, improve the top line of the business growth. educate business leaders on the potential of technology but also the liabilities, and leverage IT to build the business competency.

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