Thursday, August 10, 2017

CIOs as “Chief Insight Officer”: What’s Your Thoughts on Digital IT Trajectory

The digital CIOs need to tilt IT in the digital normality, laser focus on improving its responsiveness and performance, bring the top line business result and maximize its full potential.

Due to change nature of technologies and overwhelming growth of information, IT has to keep reinventing itself to get digital ready. The IT leader of the future and the exemplars of today must move away from the pure IT manager, and become a trustful strategic partner for bringing fresh perspectives on improving the top line business growth. IT nowadays is the business inside the business, no longer just a support function or cost center only. CIOs as “Chief Insight Officer”: What're your thoughts on digital IT trajectory?

From inside-out operation-driven to outside-in business focus: In most of the traditional organizations, IT is an order taker, setting back and waiting for the requests from the business; they are inside-out operation driven, running as an isolated back-office function to keep the lights on. However, in the digital era, technologies are the disruptive forces behind the digital transformation, and the information is the lifeblood to run a high-responsive and high-intelligent business. The trajectory of running digital IT has to operate from the outside-in lens for broadening its impact and enforcing business-IT integration. IT needs to be proactive, not reactive. IT has to be configured in a way to understand the business and set the flexible structure and a holistic framework to deliver the business and market need. Digital IT leaders have to be able to demonstrate in very tangible ways that IT understands businesses, and they are fluent in different business dialects, not only about IT jargon or finance languages, but also there is a different way to communicate for tailoring the audience, and that is the key to become a better business partner. Business savvy in your technical team is a "must have" if you are going to be competitive. From IT management perspective, to become the outside-in business focus, there are two ways to do that, either permeating IT into the business through decentralizing IT and assigning IT staff in the business functions; or through bringing the business folks into IT and getting more feedback from users on how to improve IT effectiveness. Generally speaking, it's easier to find technical domain expertise once the business challenge has been defined than it is to get technical people focused on business problems. From IT leadership perspective, what C-level executives really want is a strategic partner, who knows what they want before they know themselves, and who can innovate by in-depth understanding the business, the partner that works both "on the business" and "in the business," not just "for the business." As the digital Computing paradigm is changing the face of traditional IT in resource allocation and management. The CIO's role is to identify and guide the top class leadership team to assure there are no surprises for the continuous delivery of quality products/services. The digital IT trajectory is shifting from being a service provider to become a value creator for maximizing the business revenue and a strategic business advisor for unleashing the full digital potential.

From constructor to conductor: Traditional IT organizations are often monolithic, overloaded and understaffed, with the constructor’s mentality to “build to last,” even reinvent the wheel all the time. With increasing speed of changes and fierce competitions, the digital IT trajectory is moving to IT consumerization model, IT plays as a conductor to ensure that IT is designed for change, take advantage of on-demand service models, and build the dynamic IT competency with shortened products/services delivery model and module capability building techniques. There are some systems/services which need to be maintained "in-house" and it is down to the CIO to ensure that the "mix" is right for the performance of the business. The lightweight digital technologies offer the possibilities of realizing an economy of scale which very few businesses can achieve within their own budgets. An efficient CIO needs to leverage IT resources effectively while reducing costs and to create strategic business value for the company. IT is the conductor to orchestrate the digital symphony.

The digital evolution means that channels to customers: Traditional IT organizations struggle to align with the business and catch up with the business speed because many IT organizations have been perceived as the change laggard in their company. To speed up and improve IT maturity, the digital IT trajectory is about focusing on IT-business integration as well as IT-customer alignment. Embracing digital is inevitable as that is now part of the business venture. The digital evolution means that channels to customers and assess their needs, and then identify how to best characterize that value through IT portfolio management, define key indicators, and then define those measures appropriate to best assess the performance of these indicators because they show you how well they satisfy or delight customers. The biggest challenge to business success is information and technology, and the biggest challenge for IT success is to understand the business and customers’ expectation. Especially IT has two sets of customers, the internal users, and end business customers. IT plays a crucial role in both attracting new customers and increasing current customer retention by capturing the customer insight, digitizing every touch point of customer experience, and improving the overall customer satisfaction.

The disruption of IT will continue. Embracing digital is inevitable as that is now part of the reality. In order to lead change and drive digital transformation, IT should ride above of the change curve ahead of the other parts of the company, and tilt IT in the digital normality with a laser focus on improving its responsiveness and performance, and bring the top line business result. The CIO must be concerned as to whether the operational ecosystem will function as expected with much faster pace, running IT both in the business and on the business, to maximize the digital potential of the company.


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