Tuesday, October 3, 2017

CIOs’ Three “Obsessions” to Get IT Digital Ready

The digital CIO today, as the top business executive role should have the big picture vision, get obsessed with innovation, people, and knowledge.

With increasing pace of changes, overwhelming growth of information, fierce competition and “VUCA” digital new normal, IT plays a critical role in building business competency and drive digital transformation. Nowadays, regardless of whether they like it or not, CIOs have to play multiple roles and often get obsessed with many things. Be conscious and disciplined, focus on the RIGHT things to help IT get digital ready.

Get obsessed with innovation: CIOs have to reinvent IT from a transactional support center to a transformative digital engine. Thus, they shouldn’t just get stuck at “running” mode to keep the lights on, they need to get obsessed with innovation and be energized to change. Because the CIO role has never been just about managing the status quo, they have to leverage the latest technologies for innovating across the business, regardless of which function you are involved in, then you can manage IT in an innovative mode, change the shape of what you deliver, not just how it’s delivered. Innovation is not just about technology, it is the differentiated business competency woven by people, process, technology, culture, partnership, etc. From idea management perspective, the enterprise social platforms and efficient digital collaboration tools also make it much easier to share ideas, harness communication and scale up innovation best practices. So, the challenge for CIO is how to leverage the emergent digital technologies to renovate and build up the strong partnership to update innovation frameworks, processes, and technologies, to speed up innovation management life cycle and to run IT as an innovation engine. An innovation-obsessed CIOs need to understand what the business’s expectation from IT through change and innovation lenses. And IT leaders should be able to relay complex technical ideas in a non-technical manner to business executive peers, convey the technological vision and contribute to the business strategy making, and take opportunities to clarify the role of IT in business innovation management.

Get obsessed with customers: Traditional IT organizations are often inside-out operation-driven. Digital is the era of customers. So, CIOs should get obsessed with customers. IT has both internal users and external customers. People and consumers’ experience should be at the center of everything you do. Focus on meeting important customers' needs, empower internal users with efficient technology tools and optimize end customers’ experiences are all strategically important because it directly impacts how IT can contribute to the business top-line business growth. Particularly now business functions have become more tech-savvy, as such, be aware of their concerns, what they want, when and how they want. On the other hand, being customer-obsessed doesn’t mean IT should just take requests from customers, and do whatever customers want them to do, be the “YES” department as an order taker, but still get stuck at the low level of IT management maturity. In practice, customer-centric IT should understand their customers and know what they need even more than themselves because IT can process information to capture business foresight and customer insight even at the real-time. Further, customers are always demanding, IT is already overloading. IT should turn on the innovative mode and become a trustful partner to provide the tailored solution and solve problems creatively. alternatively, and intellectually.

Get obsessed with learning and continuous updating knowledge: Due to change nature of technology and exponential growth of information, information and knowledge life cycle is significantly shortened. IT leaders and staff should keep updating their knowledge and skillset to get digital ready. A learning-obsessed CIO has the willingness and ability to learn and then apply those lessons to succeed in new situations. Digital leaders and professional with learning agility continuously seek new challenges, solicit direct feedback, self-reflect and motivated, get works done resourcefully. In addition, as more and more organizations transform themselves into the digital powerhouse, which is based on information and knowledge. Thus, their ability to manage and explore information - the intangible assets has become far more decisive than their ability to invest in and manage physical assets for the success of the business. A knowledge obsessed CIO does more to integrate knowledge management into information management into decision management, to focus on empowering employees, enabling them to get the right knowledge at the right time to make right decisions on time and building the organization’s long-term business advantage.

Technology becomes pervasive in the modern enterprise today, getting obsessed with too many things is the challenge of improving CIO leadership effectiveness. The digital CIO today, as the top business executive role should have the big picture vision, get obsessed with innovation, people, and knowledge, focus on the most important things, which can reinvent IT to build unique competency for achieving high performance, accelerating speed, improving flexibility and fostering change.


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