Sunday, October 15, 2017

CIOs as Digital Leaders: How to Manage a Seamless Digital Continuum?

IT leaders should remember that IT is about the information and innovation, and focus on being a solution-driven organization and a digital engine to manage a seamless digital transformation.

Digital is about the rapid change and continuous business flow, IT becomes a changing organization to driving business transformation. CIOs as digital leaders are expected to constantly propose new ideas and drive the digital paradigm shift in strategic-making, role, responsibility, and attitude. Digital transformation is more like a journey than a destination. Digital transformation efforts need to be undertaken as the means of getting to a designated different capability to accomplish a defined goal and manage a seamless digital continuum.

Intelligent preparedness: With increasing pace of changes and “VUCA” digital new normal, CIOs have to well prepare for continuous digital disruptions. IT strategic planning as a cohesive component of the business strategy needs to identify where the organization wants to be at some point in the future and how it’s going to get there. To make intelligent preparedness, CIOs need to understand every aspect of the business and connect all effective dots between IT and business as well as across the digital ecosystem. The "strategic" part of this digital transformation planning process is the continual attention to current changes in the organization and its external environment, and how this affects the future of the organization. IT plays a pivotal role in leading a digital transformation in their organization because IT is at the unique position to oversee business processes, manage business information to capture the real-time business insight for grasping business opportunities and predicting risks. The transformative digital IT is no longer just the background music, it has to pay its own music sheet as well as conduct the digital symphony. The point is that the intelligent preparedness process is never “done,” it is a continuous business cycle which is a part of the management process itself. It is important to make strategic planning dynamic to embrace changes, enforce iterative communication and dynamic execution.

Prioritizing right: There are so many things going on, and IT is always overloaded and understaffed. Setting the right priority is critical to managing a seamless digital continuum because a company has finite resources to apply to get the best yield possible to meet stakeholders’ expectation. And there are always some constraints for IT to run a balanced portfolio of “run, grow, and transform,” to explore new opportunities, deploy new ideas or explore the different path for changes and digital transformation. Therefore, evaluation and prioritization are taken place to leverage resources in management, bring transparency to the organization, and create internal competitions among new ideas and business initiatives. It takes commitment and discipline to stay focused on the real priorities of the business instead of being distracted by what seems to be more urgent at any given moment. IT has to oversee the full set of the business requirements to ensure the business cohesiveness and to determine all the customers, users, and stakeholders, and obtain their involvement. Continuously try to improve, develop, or change everything in a prioritized order as long as it creates a more long-term business advantage and solves the critical business challenges. That said, the CIOs must be the business strategist first, and tactical IT manager second, with information available to them for making effective decisions, proactively understand business and customers, in order to set the right priority, and run a high performance IT with full speed.

A renewed sense of vigor: Traditional IT organizations are often lack of personality, being perceived as a cost center and a support desk. Forward-looking companies must empower their IT to become a change agent organization with a renewed sense of vigor. The digital IT paints an excellent picture of the business interaction and independence of the expanded digital ecosystem. Make digital IT more shared, energetic, integrated, flexible, versatile, nimble, reliable, and fast. In order to survive and thrive amid rapid changes, companies must reclaim the right balance of standardization and innovation, process and flexibility; stability and change, competition and collaboration, etc. And the common element of a proactive IT is business engagement, whatever and wherever the business needs are. Digital IT organizations have to enable desirable emergent property, either being called synergy or differentiated competency such as innovation, to not just support or enable business, but more critically, to catalyze business growth and strive vigorously in leading digital transformation.  

Systematic approach: Digital IT has to run both in the business as well as on the business, in order to break down silo mentality, close blindspots, and connect all necessary puzzle pieces together to manage a seamless digital continuum via a structural approach. At today’s information-driven business dynamic, there’s no shortage of problems to tackle. It's about being able to get all the way around the task, to see it from all interests. Digital Paradigm means holism, hyper-connectivity, interdependence, and integration. CIOs need to be bold and innovative, scaling the power of information is about creating a structure that continually delivers what the business needs and takes further steps toward maximizing business potential. It is also critical to apply a holistic management discipline which can break through the industrial constraints and limitations, solving the problems via digging into the root causes and shifting the business from doing digital to going digital systematically.

“SMART” measurement: Managing a seamless digital continuum means to make a progressive journey to improve performance and expedite changes. Managing performance and improving business achievement means setting metrics, adjusting plans, understanding results, and making decisions to ensure the strategic goals are on the right track to achieve. Ensure these measures are both quantitative and qualitative, follow the “SMART” principle - Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound,  and implement whatever mechanisms you need to be able to gather information. Measures are not just numbers, but stories. Every measure selected should be part of a link of cause-and-effect relationships, and ultimately affect the growth and long-term perspectives of the organization. Good metrics help to track the business progress in a tangible way and help to improve the overall business manageability and effectiveness.

IT leaders should remember that IT is about the information and innovation, and focus on being a solution-driven organization and a digital engine to manage a seamless digital transformation. Digital transformation is worth its weight because of its high impact on optimizing business performance and driving the business’s long-term prosperity.


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