Monday, October 30, 2017

CIOs as Chief Improvement Officer: Running Non-Stop IT to Make a Leap of Digital Transformation

The goal to run a nonstop and real-time digital IT organization is to create synergy and achieve digital synchronization of the entire organization.

Digital transformation represents a break from the past, with a high level of impact and complexity. IT organizations play a critical role is such a paradigm shift and comes a long way from being a pure technical specialist to being a critical strategic partner for achieving business growth and transformation. Business needs IT to deliver services/ solutions that drive business productivity and effectiveness, and IT needs to achieve premium via doing right things and doing them in right ways. Digital organizations are always on and hyperconnected, how to run a non-stop IT to make a leap of digital transformation.

Never Stop learning and communicating: To keep IT relevant, IT leaders must become “Chief Influence Officer,” to keep communicating with the business about IT value proposition, to make leadership influence at the scope of the entire business or even industry. CIOs must do more than just manage “the Bits & Bytes,” they have to run IT as the business solutionary to solve both old and emergent business problems, also become the change agent for driving business transformation more proactively. IT leaders and staff should never stop learning and overcome  “We always do things like that” mentality. CIOs must be the strategic leader as their peer executive officers, speak business language, not technical jargons, they should never stop communicating with business peers, customers and partners both through formal or informal communication and tailor different audience. They need to make sound judgments about people and business relationship, such as Who are your supporters and who will be your detractors? How do you overcome the objections or roadblocks that will inevitably arise on the journey of change? Who is your trustworthy partner working with you to overcome the challenge, and who will try to kick you when you're down? CIOs as one of the most sophisticated executive roles in contemporary business should be open-minded to never stop learning new knowledge, fresh perspective and intuitive ideas, but also be wiser to have an in-depth understanding of people and business circumstances for leading change confidently.

Never stop improving and innovating: Besides being “Chief Influence Officer,” modern CIOs are also “Chief Innovation Officer,” and “Chief Improvement Officer.” They should make an objective assessment of IT maturity, as well as the overall business maturity: Where is the organization on the technology or process adoption curve? Is the organization a pioneer, mature adapter, or laggard? The digital IT practice is to live as the “customer," should collect business customers’ feedback. To keep relevant, IT should never stop improving and innovating. To keep improving IT performance and exceed business expectations, CIOs need to be able to listen to a wide range of opinions and approaches and understand how that might benefit the business. IT should never stop trimming the cost and remove the weeds to keep digital fit. IT also has to take a proactive and holistic approach to handling the investigation of innovative business solutions. IT oversees business processes across the enterprise, and thus, has better opportunity to connect wider dots for triggering innovation. Sometimes, when one business area has a new product that can be used by another, IT leaders can connect the dots to come up with new innovative solutions. IT should never stop tuning the underlying functions and processes of the business to manage a successful transformation journey.

Never stop managing IT risks: The continuous digital disruptions and overwhelming growth of information bring both opportunities and risks. IT should keep the eyes open for growth opportunities, also never stop managing risks. Being a change agent is not an easy role, and with any strategic initiative, there can be a high risk of failure. Speaking of IT risk, almost all departments were somehow involved, more or less. CIOs must understand the fundamentals of the business environment and engage key decision makers and stakeholders on their terms for managing risks systematically. Many factors influence a CIO's choice about where to position his/her information resources along with business continuum, such as the organization’s risk appetite, regulatory environment, size, stage in the lifecycle, market environment, and current conditions. Explore “WHY” & “WHAT,” besides “HOW.” IT leaders need to develop a comprehensive framework to manage GRC effectively, foster a risk management process to ensure key stakeholders having input into planning, allocation, and commitment of resources.

The goal to run a nonstop and real-time digital IT organization is to create synergy and achieve digital synchronization of the entire organization. From IT leadership perspective, lead, don't just manage! Management is about execution while leadership is about change, specifically influencing others to change. Leading through influence is critical for CIOs to run IT as a nonstop change agent.


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