Monday, November 13, 2017

CIOs as “Chief Innovation Officer”: How to Define and Drive Innovation Systematically

IT now makes impacts on almost every aspect of the business, the biggest challenge to business success is IT and IT has to do more with people-centricity.

Digital is the age of innovation. To keep relevant, IT has to shift its reputation from a cost center to the innovation hub of the organization. IT needs to play a crucial role in breaking down silos and being intentional about developing processes that encourage collaboration and enforce innovation, IT has the very power to influence on an organization’s “personality,” and unleashing the digital potential of the business. Thus, CIOs as “Chief Innovation Officer”: How shall you define and drive innovation systematically?

Ride on emerging trends: Innovation happens when you change the game; you bring a different twist to what is currently established and perceived. More often than not, technology is the disruptive force behind digital transformation and information is the gold mine every forethought organization digs in. Thus, IT has a great opportunity here to catalyze innovation and lead the digital transformation of the business. CIOs should proactively work with the business and partners to ride emerging trends, and leverage the latest digital technologies to fuel innovation engine, also refine information to capture the customer insight and business foresight for improving innovation management effectiveness. Because innovation is the most wanted change, IT movement has largely focused on getting its arms around the trend and 'managing' innovation effectively, to improve its maturity. Digital IT leaders need to be really creative on how they architect and implement changes, to ensure IT is strategically positioned to be ahead of where the business is moving now, to become a change agent.

Design the creative process: Innovation shouldn’t be the serendipity. Innovation needs a certain level of guidelines and rules. And digital innovation has expanded spectrum and broader perspective as well. IT leaders can also bring their multidimensional thinking skills and well-trained engineering discipline to manage innovation life cycle in a systematic manner that provides sustained competitive advantage in the long run. Not only should IT plays an active role in designing, developing and producing innovative products or service, IT is also in the unique position to influence the business’s “personality” - Is your company a highly intelligent introvert or the go -doer extrovert? Because IT oversees business processes and manage the information life cycle, directly impacts how the business “think and do things” there. Creativity in the "corporate" world has a lot to do with fostering a creative environment. You have to live it and breathe it every day, otherwise, you would feel stuck. It has to become your business routine, corporate culture to renew creativity energy. By leveraging powerful digital platforms and technologies, organizations can be more effective in executing innovative ideas by relying less on silo functions, more on cross-functional collaboration and continuous improvement. IT also plays a crucial role in creating a disciplined and managed space for developing and testing new models, products, and business approaches, but also shield innovation teams from the organization’s dominant logic and established standard operating procedures, to strike the right balance of innovation and process. Generally speaking, an organization that has a lightweight process which allows creativity and innovation to flow, get protected, channeled and nurtured will succeed more often than an organization that does not have such a process.

People-centricity: The intersection of IT and people is where innovation happens; companies need to invest in IT necessary to advance businesses through either incremental or radical innovation. Thus, people-centricity should be another critical component in the IT innovation playbook. IT shouldn’t act as a controller only, and limit the business’s creativity. In fact, IT plays a crucial role in expanding the creative side of the business, and unlock the creativity of people. The digital philosophy is to live as “customers,” when practicing IT innovation management. IT now makes impacts on almost every aspect of the business, the biggest challenge to business success is IT and IT has to do more with people-centric innovation to propel the business growth and profitability. More specifically, a valid strategic objective and strategy mapping allow you to first understand your customers and what they value, and then identify how to best characterize that value through IT innovation management. It provides the “best or most innovative solution” for the businesses’ requirement, offers added value and feature insight based on system understanding, that the business might not even have thought of. It is also important to define key indicators and then defines those measures appropriate to best assess the performance of these indicators because they show you how well they satisfy or delight customers. To become truly people-centric and highly innovative, IT has to walk to talk, be open to diverse opinions and feedback, be humble to listen to customers, be confident to take the path perhaps no one ever takes before, and be resilient to failure forward.

IT provides the vision to ride emergent trends and grasp opportunities for doing more with innovation; IT provides a structure to frame innovation management for improving its success rate. Digital IT also live as customers. Although there’s no one size fitting all innovation practice, that makes innovation still be serendipity for many organizations. CIOs just have to learn from experimenting, amplify the best practices, to define and drive innovation systematically.


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