Monday, March 12, 2018

Digital CIOs: How can you Calibrate your Inner Compass to Lead Digitalization Effortlessly

With increasing pace of changes, CIOs generally have greater opportunities to stand out and practice digital leadership as the trustful business partner.

Traditional IT in the industrial age is often blamed as the controller to slow down the speed of change. The digital organization is running at much faster speed, and digital IT is being elevated to the “light power” of the business for identifying obstacles, navigating changes, and reaching the destination more confidently. The CIOs' leadership penetration is based on the depth of their IT expertise and the breadth of enterprise knowledge upon understanding the business as a whole and even an entire digital ecosystem. So, they can ask tough questions, make an objective IT assessment, and calibrate their inner compass to lead digitalization effortlessly.

Does IT provide the guidance for the organization’s future? Because any business practice today is always a combination of people, process, and technology. IT is the linchpin for running a digital organization. Digital CIOs are often outlier visionaries who can step out of the conventional thinking box or linear patterns, so they can both zoom out the business picture with the clarified oversight and zoom into the important business elements such as underlying processes to scrutinize deeper because IT is uniquely positioned to observe functions and processes across the enterprise. Digital CIOs need to share the technological vision with the business audience and provide the scientific guidance for co-creating the organization’s future. A future-driven IT is the threshold to knit all those important business elements to a unique set of business competencies. Digital IT leaders need to keep checking up: Is IT in a high-involvement management process? How are information and technologies used to doing things in an optimal way in the organization? Is IT the driving force of digitalization and the change agent of the business, to run, grow, and transform seamlessly? Can IT reinvent itself to become the innovation hub of the business? Innovation is not always equal to the latest gadgets, it’s about people, culture, partnership, and manners, etc. 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. You don’t have a choice of innovation, you can choose to direct it rather than just let it happen. IT plays a crucial role in “switching on” the power of digital innovation and being the “light power” to expedite digital transformation.

Can IT break down silo thinking and keep information flow, idea flow, and therefore business flow frictionlessly: Information Technology isn’t inside the IT wall, but permeating to the entire business scope. The priority for CIOs is to genuinely position IT as an integral and inseparable part of the business. Because CIOs will continue to be put on the front line to run IT as a digital transformer. IT strategic planning should always be in sync with business strategy and goals other than ensuring an effective IT operation itself. It should adapt to the emerging business dynamic with continuous technological disruptions or regulatory update, etc, and CIOs have to recalibrate IT direction accordingly. The CIO role as C-level is to contribute to the formulation of the business strategy where new trends of information & technology will enhance the competitive advantages of the organization. Digital IT is designed for changes, part of the challenge of being a CIO is determining what works where, and what works best for the business both from strategic and tactical perspectives. Remember that knowledge is power and as the CIO, you have the most influential position within the business to make the true proactive contribution to run a high mature digital organization. Don’t waste the opportunity, seize it.

Is the business-engaged CIO a proficient digital leader to run a proactive IT and keep navigating in the rough sea to earn its spurs? DRIVING change is not a passive activity. IT needs to be acutely in tune with the business. Velocity, complexity, and uncertainty will characterize the future. To proactively drive digitalization, the CIO has to look forward and actively position the business in the right place. Digitalization is driving unpredictability, demanding a more rapid deployment that can quickly adapt to the changes and adjust to the new market conditions. Without visionary digital leaders with inner compass, businesses would find themselves setting radically different trajectories are facing a daunting task of navigating largely uncharted territories. In the face of vast areas of unknowns, it is important to build a solid and scientific digital management framework that addresses both the tactical practices of getting the work done and the soft business factors associated with the digital paradigm shift that must take place within the organization at all levels in order to lead change systematically.

With increasing pace of changes, CIOs generally have greater opportunities to stand out and practice digital leadership as the trustful business partner. CIOs as the top business leaders need to strike the right balance of confidence and humility. On one side, you need to trust your intuition and be able to calibrate your inner compass to lead digitalization confidently; on the other hand, you should be humble to realize there are many things you know you don’t know and perhaps even more which you don't know what you don't know. Thus, be alert to identify blind spots, be flexible to adjust the planning, be open to listening to the different points of view, be practical to build a comprehensive roadmap, last but not least, be equipped with a set of digital-ready mindsets in order to drive innovation fearlessly and lead digitalization effortlessly.


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