Saturday, March 10, 2018

IT Maturity Curve: How Deep Could it Be?

To ride change curves and improve organizational maturity, IT needs to take an “outside-in” approach, put the emphasis on the vital focus on businesses and customers.

IT touches both hard business processes and soft human behavior. Information is permeating to every corner of the organization; digital technologies bring an unprecedented level of convenience and the giant tide of changes. IT maturity is proportional to business maturity. However, the majority of IT organizations still run in the reactive mode, keep the lights on, take the order, and get stuck at the lower level of maturity. Every foresightful IT leader needs to ask themselves: IT maturity curve - how deep could it be? Functioning, firm, or delight, which level of digital maturity has your IT organizations reached?

Making a leap from surviving to thriving: Bottom-line thinking is one of the great limitations of modern IT organizations.The majority of IT organizations today still limit their role as a support center to keep the lights on and spend their majority of budget and resources on operational activities. To break the mold and make a leap from surviving to thriving, IT needs to rethink itself as an innovative and business leading organization. It has to provide both business foresight and technical insight into how they bring success to the company as a whole. As IT is increasingly supportive of the competitive position of the business, it takes on a new set of activities that are involved in defining, developing, and differentiating their organization to reach a high level of digital maturity. In general, IT leaders must take careful considerations about which knowledge or skills have to be secured; what are commoditized services, and what are competitive differentiators; which services to purchase from outside, and which capability needs to build in-house. IT is thriving to grow vigorously, because a thriving IT can make true differences and bring the competitive business advantage effortlessly, to flourish and become the game-changer of the business.

Exploring strategic opportunities & alignment: Most dictionaries divide alignment into two categories; arrangement and alliance. At the lower maturity level, IT is aligned with businesses to provide necessary support in a reactive way. When moving up the maturity, IT needs to be more strategic, creative, and proactive. IT is not just to support strategy, IT strategy is an integral part of business strategy. There are two causes of deepening IT maturity curves: IT management still runs IT from inside-out operational lens only, and business executives still limit their vision of IT as “IT supports a strategy.” Strategic alignment goes beyond conformity and order taking, it needs to include a close partnership with interpersonal communication, cross-functional collaboration, and ride learning curve with speed. IT can help the business grasp growth opportunities via information-based business insight. Do not underestimate the perfect wave of combined IT-business integration of all of the exponential growth curves. Those organizations that have a more mature strategic alignment (integration, collaboration, harmony, etc.) outperform their competitors and tend to be more responsive to the business dynamic.

Reinventing IT from a change laggard to a change agent: Traditional IT department is perceived as a change laggard, with a controller’s mentality and IT is often perceived as the function which stifles changes. IT staff are trained early on to focus on change control as a sort of promotion to the production process. However, nowadays, change is inevitable, with increasing pace. It forces digital IT leaders to get really creative on how they architect and implement change, to ensure IT is strategically positioned to be ahead of where the business is moving next. The change curve is applicable to everyone even those who planned and conceived the vision. The real problem seems to understand the change curve and how it relates to change. Usually, the curve is ready to be the step one goes through during change when in actuality they are the steps that come before the change can take place. CIOs as change leaders need to ask deep questions to understand how steep the change curve could be- Is the change curve a useful construct? What is the psychology behind the change? Do people easily get out of their comfort zone and accept change? Do people follow a predictable pattern of responses? Why do change initiatives often fail? Does the organization show the needed adaptability to change? IT maturity also depends on how it manages the changes with the right level of attitude and aptitude. It takes a very concerted and organized effort and a strong desire on both sides to make changes happen and sustain.

To ride change curves and improve organizational maturity, IT needs to take an “outside-in” approach, putting the emphasis on a vital focus on businesses and customers, move beyond commodity management and begin to show higher-level strategic values and dedicate more resources to innovation, IT then, is on the right track to improve its performance, accelerate its speed and maturity.


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