Friday, November 10, 2017

Three Stages to Reach the "Art of Possible" in IT

IT has to move up its maturity from a reactive support function to a business innovation hub, a strategic business partner, and even a digital game changer.

Digital transformation is inevitable, the outlines of the fully digitalized world have long been sketched, now the phenomenon of digital is reaching the inflection point, yet we are now entering an even more rapid and extensive period of change, leading organizations have shifted from “Doing Digital” to “Being Digital.” IT plays a critical role in the digital paradigm shift. To improve its maturity, IT has to reinvent itself, and top business leaders need to reimagine how to leverage information & technology to build differentiated business competency, explore the art of possible, and reach the next stage of IT innovation.

The stage of Digital explorement: We are living in an information abundant world where technology is pervasive and the masses are looking for their own experiences to introduce new technologies into the business, leverage information in decision making, and explore growth opportunities based on business foresight and customer insight captured from information. IT is also an important component in building differentiated business capabilities, which allow the organization to explore the new opportunities and unleash business potential. Many forward-thinking organizations also separate the exploitation of existing methods and technologies from the exploration of the new ways to do things via leveraging emergent digital trends. Digital IT digitalization requires the balance of  learning and doing, standardization and innovation, stability and speed, “best IT practices” and next IT digitalization practices.” IT-driven digital exploration is all about planning, investing, designing, developing, operating, securing, optimizing, balancing, and orchestrating. IT transformation is an integral part of the business transformation and linchpin of strategy management. It means understanding the "As is" position of the business and the role IT plays in it and identifying the desirable "To be" state. Every organization needs to develop a set of fundamental digital principles and explore its own set of practices for innovating, differentiating, digitalizing, and build business competency for long-term growth and prosperity.

The stage of digital acceleration: Many information savvy organizations also reach the inflection point to accelerate, and the turning point to breakthrough during the journey of digital transformation. Speed matters for the businesses surviving and thriving, especially at today’s “VUCA” digital new normal, either adapting to the increasing pace of changes or you would become irrelevant gradually. Thus, IT needs to focus on the fastest speed available because that is where the main threat is to competitiveness. Digital acceleration also means to speed up the organization vehicle as well, to build business competency for the long-term business growth and unlocking the full digital potential. The CIO role is an enterprise leadership & executive role who is responsible for leadership of the information agenda when organizations can process and manage their information lifecycle seamlessly and timely, they are on the right track to adapt faster, but also be able to drive digital transformation steadfastly. The strategic value proposition of IT is how to leverage resources and assets (information is one of the most crucial soft assets of the business nowadays) of the IT departments to create the optimal business value - which in the next step, will generate revenue growth, brand or increased market shares. Up to the next level, IT not only needs to adapt faster within its own department but also needs to accelerate, innovate and speed up the entire company's digital transformation journey.

The stage of IT-led business innovation: The journey of improving business maturity is more evolutionary than revolutionary.  To improve IT maturity, CIOs must be able to think out of the traditional IT box, connect wider dots interdisciplinarily for doing more with innovation. Digital innovation has a broader spectrum and diverse taste, it evolves both hard innovations such as products/services/business model innovation and soft innovations such as management/culture/communication innovation. IT-led digital innovations are information driven and customer-centric because often the emergent digital technologies are the disruptive forces behind changes. It is critical to put a stronger emphasis on empowering people, the source of knowledge, innovation adaptations and customer centricity. IT should move from IT-business alignment to IT-business integration and engagement stage. The point is that IT can drive digital transformation, but it should be in conjunction with the business. Otherwise, IT will be seen as in competition with the business. This requires different CIO management styles, organizational setups, and management focus. A digital IT organization with high proficiency plays a crucial role in scaling up innovation, putting a strong emphasis on empowering people, pursuing knowledge and insight, and finding innovative solutions that can support both business need and build ROI required to justify the business case. And businesses become more successful when they empower IT to work across the business boxes, not just within the IT boxes, to keep information flow, idea flow, and thus business flow.

Never before has IT and business been so closely tied together, never before has technology moved more quickly and missteps have larger trajectory impacts on every aspect of the business. IT has to move up its maturity from a reactive support function to a business innovation hub, a strategic business partner, and even a digital game changer. IT maturity is proportional to overall business maturity.


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