Thursday, July 20, 2017

Strengthen the Weakest Links to Get IT Digital Ready

IT continues to grow in importance to organizations, both operationally and as a competitive advantage.

Digitalization is driving unpredictability, demanding a more rapid deployment that can quickly adapt to the changes and adjust to the dynamic business conditions. It requires IT to run as a business, becomes the business's revenue growth maker and the game changer for the digital transformation. IT has to strengthen its weakest links, build a set of cohesive capabilities, do more with innovation, and improve its organizational maturity to get digital ready.

Strengthen the digital strategy execution link:  IT continues to grow in importance to organizations, both operationally and as a competitive advantage. And IT plays a strategic role in the digital transformation of the business.  IT strategy is the most significant component of the corporate digital strategy. It is how to leverage the resources and assets of the IT departments to create the optimal business competency such as generating new revenue stream or accelerating business speed. The problem is that CIOs, as other management roles as well, for quite a long time not doing strategic management which includes “envisioning,” "selling," which significantly discounts their leadership effectiveness. CIOs, as well as other executives, should spend more time on strategy management while now most of the time is spent on exception management to keep the lights on. Too often transformational change is acted on the basis of improving one part of an organization at the expense of other parts of the organization. To expand their leadership horizon as the top digital executive, CIOs should gain a holistic understanding about the entire company because the digital strategy is not bound by one functional area (such as IT), but rather included the whole organization with a vision to compete for the future and become the digital leader in their vertical sector, with a mission to increase customer experience and engagement - and hence, increased market shares and revenue. The main reason is that up to this point in time most leaders have been silo managers and don't really have the business skills or personality traits to lead transformation and change. Therefore, it is important to understand that responsibility, objectives and needed resources to be successful. With the right leaders are in place at the right time in a business life cycle or condition to bridge the weak links, the digital transformation should happen naturally and seamlessly.

Strengthen IT - business link: Traditional IT organizations are often run as the isolated function and struggle with IT-business alignment. But to achieve high-responsiveness and improve its changeability and flexibility, IT and the business need to integrate and act as one in a flowing process and a cohesive whole via integration, collaboration, engagement, optimization, or convergence. Terms such as link, fuse, affiliation, coalition, harmony, fit, match, meld, etc. are all frequently used synonymously to describe the holistic digital business profile. This is especially important in today’s world where the dynamic business environment, organizations, and technology are continuing to experience dramatic change at an accelerated pace, driving the role of IT to become increasingly more complex and challenging. To ride the digital waves, IT must be invented into the change organization in their company. There are changes in two shapes in IT digital transformation: One is about internal IT where IT transforms itself to become faster, flexible,  and more effective; and the second is where IT helps to transform or change the entire business in line with new strategic imperatives. With the accelerating digital speed, everything is always moving forward promptly, IT should become the trustful business partner, not just order takers, spend sufficient time on understanding the business issues enough to push back on what they asked for and explain how alternatives can provide more value. IT and business links often get disconnected because most business executives have no idea how complicated corporate technology is, they don’t have to understand how complex IT system is. While most CIOs don't know how to sell the value of what their teams deliver. Ineffective communication happens when a CIO has one way of thinking and other business executives think in a different way. To strengthen the weakest link, IT leaders should become the great communicator to envision how IT can create business advantage and demonstrate data support performance results via the business lens.

IT- End Customer Link: IT has two sets of customers. IT does provide services to internal staff but ultimately, the beneficiary of IT services is the end customers. So, at the end of the day, everything that the IT organization does is for the end customers. It is a strategic imperative for IT to make a management shift from IT-business alignment to IT-end customer alignment.  Everyone in the IT organization owns the end user's experience. This is an ownership mindset any customer-centric CIOs need to instill within IT organization. In practice, the digital mantra is to live as "customers." When IT can help the business process the data and capture the customer insight about what the customer actually want, that is when you can really develop an experience that fits them and their needs or desires. Because these customer inquiries are not just support-related but can foster new and better ways the business applications can perform and optimize every touch point of customer experience. Strengthening IT and end customer link is challenging because IT management has to make a radical shift from inside-out operation driven to outside-in customer focus. IT needs to well integrate multiple management disciplines such as strategy management, change management, performance management, innovation management, and talent management into a holistic digital management approach with customers as the center of practices.

Companies across industry sectors rely more and more on technologies and claim they are in the information management business. IT organization has more and more to overcome in running at digital speed via strengthening the weakest links and improving the business performance. The team of transformational leaders including CIOs should utilize the multitudes of functions for organizational changes -vision, culture, systems, operations, performance, etc, for running a high mature digital ready business.


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