Friday, August 18, 2017

Three Big “Hows” to Improve Digital IT Maturity

IT leaders must grasp both the strategic “HOW” about IT potential, priority, and differentiated business advantage; and the tactical “HOW” about the IT management methodology and the next IT practices.

IT continues to grow in importance to organizations, both operationally and strategically. IT is the huge and expensive investment in most of the organizations, whether it is "planning" or "performance," "process" or "people," “Information” or “innovation” issues, IT becomes the decisive success factor for the business’s long-term perspective. However, the majority of IT organizations are still getting stuck at the lower level of maturity. In practice, the CIOs shouldn't have been “overwhelmed” by the complexity of IT and uncertainty of business dynamic, Here are three big “HOWs” to improve digital IT maturity.  

How to achieve true business and IT partnership: When IT gets stuck at the lower level of maturity, it is only a support center and an order taker, IT leaders don’t have the seat at the big table, the focus of IT is to “keep the lights on” only. There is an inherent conflict if IT views its primary objective as alignment, standardization, rationalization, and consolidation, but nowadays at the era of digitalization, IT means innovation, integration, improvement, and customer delight, etc. Hence, the first big “HOW” IT leaders should ask themselves, as well as their business partners and the staff is - how to achieve true business and IT partnership. In practice, IT needs to behave more like an integral part of the business. Trust is the key, trust means how to strike the right balance upon when IT should lead, and when IT should follow; what IT can give up control, and what IT needs to control. IT can no longer feel like it has a monopoly on delivering solutions to the business. IT should feel a competitive pressure. It can drive IT to run more like business as well as understand the business strategies more comprehensively. The trust also means that IT and business can work closely to deliver business solutions with digital speed. Business often gets frustrated about the speed of IT because they can see the ease of on-demand IT service delivery and use of easily accessible IT solutions that fit some of their business needs, they see how far technology has advanced, they see the ease with which new services are deployed on-demand. Only based on trust, empathetic communication, and cross-functional collaboration, IT can become the strategic partner of the business and improve IT organization maturity.

How Should CIOs respond to endless internal customer demands for IT solutions? IT is often overloaded and understaffed, IT takes orders from the business without setting the right priority. This is the other reason that the majority of IT organizations get stuck at the lower level of maturity. A good place to start improving IT performance and maturity is by trying to get all parts of the business in the same process for proposing, justifying and prioritizing business - including IT. An integral and high-effective IT is the ultimate status for IT to deliver better fit, right-on and cost-effective solutions, even you cannot fulfill all business’s demands, but you deliver what you promise, and you do what is best fit for business’s strategy and goals. IT is not always following the order but acts as the trusted business partner to provide an alternative solution to business problems more effectively. If people see IT as part of the same process, getting critical stuff done now, having to defer some, just like them, that goes a long way to gain credibility when it comes to arguing that the surprise new thing will impact the company’s agreed priorities. IT has to work more closely and strategically with the business for achieving the common business goals and delivering higher-than-expected business performance.

How can IT catalyze business growth: To move up IT management maturity, it has to transform from a cost center to a business innovator and the business growth catalyzer. IT is not only supporting the business goals, IT helps the company win businesses. There should also be strong interaction between other business functional leaders and IT leaders and their teams with feedback mechanisms and willingness to find solutions that can support both the business need and build any ROI required to justify the business case. IT manages the lifeblood of the business -information, and it helps to refine information into the business insight which further leads to business innovation. The real-time business insight creates the differentiated value proposition for moving your prospects to become your customers and improving customer satisfaction and retention. IT is one of the most critical components in building unique business competency and the long-term organizational advantage. At the digital era with “VUCA” characteristics, running IT as an innovation engine can often open out ideas since the business will be identifying the business pains, and figure out the tailored solutions that IT can drive. It is also important to measure and validate the ROI. Make sure the executive team first understands what it needs to drive future business growth, and put the framework in place to map the strategic objectives into KPIs and then determine what IT investments will accelerate the changes and enable the business growth you want to see in your KPIs.

IT leaders must grasp both the strategic “HOW” about IT potential, priority, and differentiated business advantage; and the tactical “HOW” about the IT management methodology and the next IT practices. Optimization of business technology should not be the be-all and end-all at the expense of the health of the overall organization. IT maturity should be proportional to the overall business maturity. And IT is the business’s long-term advantage.


Consultants Factory (CF) specializes in model based approach. We help your IT Organization establish industry best practices & standards like ITIL, COBIT, ISO 9001, ISO 20000, ISO 27001, ISO 22301, Six Sigma etc.

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