Monday, August 21, 2017

CIOs as "Chief Insight Officer": Three HOWs” to Reinvent IT and Get Digital Ready

Digital CIOs must master both "strategic how" and "technical know-how" for reinventing IT to get digital ready.

Organizations large or small are on the journey of digital transformation, IT is no doubt becoming more critical than ever for the business’s success. CIOs as digital leaders, how do you view the role of the IT department today? Is an IT organization a solution provider, or only a service provider? How to apply the latest technologies for improving business performance and how to leverage information to capture business insight and maximize business potential? What percentage of the day is spent with each of the roles your IT department is handling? What are strategic "HOW" and technique "HOW"to reinvent IT to get digital ready?

How does IT become innovative? Traditional IT is perceived by the business as a support center only and gets stuck at a low level of maturity. To digitize IT and the entire business, IT needs to play a different role in the situation at hand. IT leaders need to identify the issues associated with innovation in an enterprise and actually have developed a unique model and platform for open innovation. IT should be able to strike the right balance between innovation and standardization, IT should play as an optimistic and cautious innovator with an in-depth understanding of information and technology potential and limitation, opportunity, and risk. It means that the IT can help the business smell growth opportunities, avoid risks, and identify the critical business issues by working closely with a business partner from a long-term perspective, and leverage technology to manage innovation across the enterprise boundary. Running an innovative IT means that IT leaders understand stakeholders’ expectations and propose an innovative solution portfolio that corresponds to both demand and cost drivers with a focus on business priority, IT-led business innovation can both go broader and deeper via connecting cross-functional, cross-business, or even cross-industrial dots, because IT is at a unique position to have a holistic view of the business as well as underlying business functions and structures. To manage innovation in a structural way, you need to frame the creative process and leverage limited resources to keep focus, set time limits, apply varying thinking techniques for managing innovation portfolios in a more productive and sustainable way.

How does IT deliver maximum business value? Even the most powerful IT is not for its own sake, the real goal of IT, just like every part of the organization, is to help the business become, stay, and increase profitability! That means IT should no longer just take the orders, they have to become the trusted business partner. IT has to be involved in key decision-making. Because nowadays, there is always some technology elements or information refinement needed for solving complex business problems or building business competency. From the business management perspective, when you look at defining an issue, constructing a solution, and then communicating that; don't you seek to involve the people that will do the work or will have to support the solution later? Thus, IT leaders should have a seat at the big table for participating in strategic level communication and sharing the technological vision. IT and business have to speak the same language and communicate more creatively, set the right priority for catalyzing business growth, improving overall business performance. The business expects ROI. It is true that the majority of IT organizations still cannot articulate their economic value to the board or shareholders in a language they understand and performance metrics will not solve the problem. IT leaders must be both business strategists and technology visionaries, always think in terms of the value-add to the business, and IT is the business.

How to run IT as a business solutionary? To improve IT organizational maturity, IT must shift from a commodity service provider to a savvy business partner and a capable business solutionary. The trick is that many IT organizations spend too much time on taking band-aid approaches and solving immediate problems, without spending enough resource and time on building business competencies and transforming their business to get digital ready. IT is also not doing enough to prevent them from reoccurring risks which fail their business due to continuous digital disruption. From an information management perspective, IT does not add value by simply storing, maintaining, and securing information. That is necessary and a given. But the true magic is when IT helps to harness and understand that information and capture the invaluable business insight from it. It is important for providing ways to better recognize and act on that information for competitive advantage. To become a great business solutionary, IT needs to understand business problems and provide pieces of advice and recommendations to the business on how to leverage technology in problem solving and innovation. It is important for IT to discuss with the business customers on what's possible" not just "what do you want." This requires a certain depth of understanding the business and having your input respected. IT can capture the organizational knowledge to continuously improve performance, harness innovation, and ultimately improve the organizational level maturity.

The strategic “HOW” about reinventing IT is to build a people-centric IT organization for both delighting customers and engaging employees; to do more with innovation, and to become the trusted business advisor. While the technique knowing HOW about IT is to leverage the emerging IT trends, update knowledge and overcome technological complexity. The CIO must be concerned as to whether the digital ecosystem will function as expected, and develop the best and next practices to reinvent IT to get digital ready.


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