Monday, July 10, 2017

Why Is so Hard for Running IT “Out of the Comfort Zone”

Getting out of the comfort zone is a prerequisite step for "Doing more with Innovation."

Technology is pervasive, information is growing exponentially. Business transformation or change initiatives today nearly always involves some form of information and technology. All forward-thinking organizations across the industries claim they are in the information management business. To adapt to the increasing speed of changes, organizations have to be more nimble about updating technology and managing information effectively. Hence, IT organizations today can no longer get stuck at the lower level of maturity to keep the lights on only or get struggling to make an alignment with the business. Digital IT organization must get “out of the comfort zone,” to explore better ways of running IT as a trusted business partner, proactive change agent, and hyper-connected innovation hub. "Continual improvement" is the IT mantra in the digital era.

There is never an "enough" to optimize IT for achieving operational excellence: IT plays a crucial role in optimizing business operation management capacity with a keen eye to grasp growth opportunities, manage risks, build the differentiated business capabilities and improve operational efficiency via applying lightweight technologies seamlessly. IT organization is like the super glue to weave all important elements into the core business competency. IT can keep improving business responsiveness and flexibility via consolidation, modernization, integration, innovation, cloudification, and optimization. IT needs to make an objective assessment of its effectiveness, efficiency, scalability, flexibility, resilience, etc, or the overall digital fitness of the IT organization. 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 the right decisions. However, the optimization of IT should not be the be-all and end-all at the expense of the health of the overall organization. When IT streamlines the information flow, idea flow, and the entire business flow, it is doing OK, as there is a shift from traditional silo-based information/knowledge management approaches to digital techniques that involve enhancing the "flow" of knowledge within a high mature digital organization to improve access and use. IT is not just the sum of commoditized services or processes, but an integral builder of the dynamic business capabilities. Hence, there is never enough to optimize IT for achieving operational excellence and improving business competency.

The digital organizational structure design should delayer the unnecessary business hierarchy to enable digital flow and inspire “digital holism”: The digital organization of the future is designed openly for anyone with ideas on how human organizations ought to be contrived in the face of challenges, to break down silos, and overcome complacency. The latest digital technologies and collaborative tools provide great opportunities for the business to optimize the organizational design for improving cross-functional communication, mass collaboration, and harness innovation, with the ultimate goals to unlock business potential and nurture human creativity. Due to the changing nature of technology and exponentially increasing information, the velocity of IT is more frequent than some other areas of the organization. It requires IT leaders to proactively listen to customers and do more with innovation. IT is also in a unique position to oversee the underlying business functions and processes and keep tuning the business structure for improving the changeability of the organization and achieve the digital equilibrium. It requires IT leaders to constantly reappraise their skills, knowledge, and approach to organizational needs, get out of the comfort zone, to produce valuable, sustainable and adaptable services and products, as well as deliver tailored business solutions for catalyzing business growth and make a leap of digital transformation.

Prioritization brings transparency to the organization and forces people to be more creative: A company has finite resources to apply to get the best yield possible to meet stakeholders’ expectation. Thus, to survive the long term, the business needs to do more planning, prioritization and innovating. This is particularly important to run a highly effective digital IT. Many IT organizations suffer from overloaded tasks and overwhelming information, and they are always struggling with “doing more with less,” or “taking orders from customers without doubts.” No wonder they would still get stuck at the lower level of maturity as a support function. There’re always some constraints for IT to balance a healthy portfolio of “run, grow, and transform,” to explore the new opportunities or deploy the new ideas. Therefore, prioritization is an important technique for running IT “out of the comfort zone,” because prioritization helps to focus on the strategy of the organization, which has huge benefits in terms of execution. Prioritization brings transparency and aligns IT portfolio management with strategic business goals and objectives. 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. Prioritization also forces people to be more creative, creating internal competition among new ideas and to come up with better ideas. 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.  
IT leaders should remember that IT is about the Information, and focus on being a solution-driven organization or innovation engine. In today’s digital dynamic and technical environments where IT is being used more and more for revenue generating initiatives and the business is becoming IT, IT must get out of the comfort zone and take a unique path to explore the new possibilities and accelerate the speed for getting digital ready.  


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