Saturday, November 4, 2017

CIOs as “Chief Investment Officer”: How to Manage “SOFT” IT Asset Well to Improve Organizational Maturity

Hard business assets keep the organization lights on, and soft assets of the organization enable the business to unlock its potential.

Organizations have both tangible or physical assets and intangible or soft assets which enable business operating smoothly and build the competitive business advantage. As companies around the world transform themselves into the digital business that is based on ‎information, and the business’s ability to explore intangible assets has become far more decisive than their ability to invest in and manage physical assets. Further, due to the digital nature of hyper-connectivity and interdependence, organizational management practices also become more holistic and people-centric. CIOs as “Chief Improvement Officer”: How to manage soft IT asset well to improve organizational maturity?

Information and knowledge as the soft asset of digital organization: All forward-looking organizations declare they are in information management business. Information nowadays is the invaluable resource and asset of organizations, in fact, Information is the most invaluable asset in business today, besides people. Information potential directly impacts the business's potential of the organization. Information does not live alone but permeates to everywhere in the businesses, and information assets need to be managed successfully. The intrinsic value of information management is to turn the most valuable information and knowledge assets into corporate assets and improve business decision effectiveness and organizational competency. Therefore, how to manage information-knowledge-life cycle effectively becomes strategic business competency and priority of IT organization. IT needs to deliver the right information to the right person in the right positions to make the right decisions. Information and decision-making are intimately connected and interdependent. The challenge is that information/ knowledge are fluid, they cannot be managed like those other hard assets. The focus needs to be on the conditions that allow information and knowledge to flow and generate value rather than try to manage or control only. Also, Information Management and Knowledge Management should be managed more holistically as the corporate asset if done properly in order to build a high-intelligent digital business.

The ability to make continuous improvement with consistency as the soft asset: With increasing speed of changes, overwhelming growth of information, and fierce business competitions, nowadays, IT maturity is not based on how many years IT organizations have been around and keep running to support the business; but about how well IT can provide tailored solutions to meet business needs and delight customers. IT competency, especially the ability to make a continuous improvement with consistency is the soft asset by which organizations can differentiate themselves from competitors and reach the next level of the growth cycle and business maturity. To adapt to the increasing speed of changes, digital organizations have to be more nimble about updating technology and managing information effectively and make continuous improvement more than discover an elegant solution. IT often suffers from overload, lack of resource managing delivery including supporting process development. Hence, building consistent IT delivery ability as the soft asset is also about how IT can re-frame of business planning processes in order along with re-framing of in-place processes that filter and fund investments, both business-oriented and technology oriented. Most of IT organizations have good intention to improve itself, regardless of methodology, it takes a holistic digital management discipline which includes iterative strategy management continuum and personnel management practices.

Communication as the soft asset: Many think that the variety of gaps (IT and business, knowledge-insight gap, etc.)  in the organization today is actually enlarged because different parts of the business evolve digital transformation with different speed. We still live in the age of information-rich, but insight poor. Many gaps and problems (at either business or society level) are caused by miscommunication and misunderstanding. Thus, high-mature organizations build communication as one of the most important soft assets of the business. Successful communication programs are designed to affect change or encourage adoption of a product or service, both internally or externally. The truth is that the "IT Gap," where people in IT had all the IT answers is truly closed and we now simply deal with business issues that we need to be a part of it. Cross-functional communication needs to be encouraged, and the multitude of communication channels should be leveraged to fit the situation and tailor audiences, target each audience’s specific concerns and achieve clear business goals.

Hard business assets keep the organization lights on, and soft assets of the organization enable the business to unlock its potential and improve business performance, effectiveness, and responsiveness. There is no one size fits all formula to run a highly effective digital IT, different IT organizations and enterprise as a whole are at the different stage of the business maturity, and managing soft asset well is the prerequisite to accelerate change and digital transformation.


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