Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Three Aspects to Reach the Next Level of IT Maturity

IT organizational maturity is achieved via harmonized communication, relentless innovation, and flawless performance with continuous delivery.

Either at the individual or organizational level, maturity is the state of ripeness, quality, fluency, balance, and resilience. IT is moving up its maturity from functioning to firm to delight, running full speed with less friction. IT maturity is based on overall business maturity. IT maturity can further accelerate business changes and make a leap of digital transformation. Here are three aspects to reach the next level of IT maturity.

Digital communication maturity: IT organizational maturity is achieved via harmonized communication, frictionless IT-business integration, and effortless collaboration. To improve IT maturity, one of the biggest challenges for IT leaders would be the ability to effectively communicate the importance of delivering to business expectations vs. requirements. IT historically has had poor communication accountability within IT or across functions, which further enlarges the gap between IT and business. Lack of trust is an often overlooked barrier to communication. As we move from using technology as a vehicle to maximize efficiency and minimize costs to using technology as an enabler and catalyzer of totally new business models, the IT role becomes much more focused on the marketing of technology. Thus, this is the role of the CIO, to both craft a solid communication strategy and practice it effectively. CIOs should be an insightful business leader and empathic communicator, to understand stakeholders' expectations and convey the right messages. IT leaders usually play the role as a translator between the business and IT; they must straddle concepts and translate language between the business and technical staff, to connect, inspire and motivate. CIOs should tell the full story about digital transformation, with shapes and colors, not just part of the plot. IT needs to be telling businesses about the varying opportunities and possibilities, as well as risks or perils. They have to strike the right balance of “over-communication” and “less is more” to communicate both concisely and effectively to achieve the end goals.

Digital innovation maturity: Technology is often the disruptive force behind innovation, and business insight refined from information provides significant clues on what & where to innovate. Innovation happens at the intersection of people and technology. Thus, IT has to do more with innovation. IT plays a bigger role in helping the business achieve the next level of innovation management. The differentiation provided by innovative technologies allows companies to reach the "long-tail" customer that previously was impossible or uneconomic. And the business competency and differentiation provided by innovative technologies usually is more long-lived than differentiation provided by marketing actions that can be copied easier. Digital innovation has the broader spectrum, including both incremental innovation and breakthrough innovation, “hard” innovations such as products/services/ process/business model innovation and “soft innovations” such as management/communication/culture innovation, etc. IT can weave all important innovation elements, optimize innovation processes for minimizing cost, time and risk whilst maximizing scalable solutions, to enable the business reaching the next level of innovation management maturity.

Digital performance maturity: To run high mature IT means that IT leaders must keep tuning IT performance and unlocking IT potential. IT leaders should be able to both manage IT and measure IT performance effectively. Running IT as a business, IT performance has to be clearly linked with business performance. “Keeping the lights on” only is important, but it’s not sufficient to build a high mature distinguished IT organization. The business goal behind the IT measurement has to be about focusing on benefits generation, return on investment and contribution to innovation. Continually accelerating changes in IT consumption and production require faster responses and better performance metrics. IT metrics have to evolve from being a cost center to becoming a revenue generator. The only way to do this is to show a clear link to top executives between IT performance and top-line revenues. Every new technology adopted must facilitate business but also bring down the incremental cost of growth and the time to market. IT value is measured by the optimization and consumption of IT assets in support of the business solutions that are identified within the organization's revenue producing streams.

IT has to continue to evolve the digital dynamic and reinvent itself as a strategic business partner and an innovative game changer. IT needs to set the right priority, make effective communication, harness digital innovation, accelerate IT performance, and maximize IT potential to reach the next level of organizational maturity.


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