Friday, March 23, 2018

The Reliability, Flexibility, and Profitability of Digital IT

Reliability, flexibility, profits with ROIs, optimization for improving business efficiency should be the driving force behind IT management.

With the fast pace of changes and continuous disruptions, IT has been pushed out of its comfort zone as a back office and become a frontrunner for accelerating digitalization. The trend of technology consumerization indeed provides unprecedented opportunities for IT to get more touch base with end customers and improve the top-line business growth. IT is the important and also expensive investment in most of the organizations, whether it is "planning" or "performance," "process" or "people," “Information” or “innovation.” How to run a high performance IT with reliability, flexibility, and profitability?

“Keep the lights on” is always fundamental to run a reliable IT organization. IT plays a crucial role to ensure that the organization’s systems are reliable and run when needed and when the users expect them to run. Quick-fixing the handy issues is also necessary to build a good IT reputation. Make sure IT systems running following the preplanned schedule and performance standards. If there is a day-to-day operation break/fix type of issue in relation to a business-critical technology, an effective CIO has to first stop the pain, take care of chronic operational issues and deliver much-requested upgrades and tactical solutions. Many IT organizations in legacy organizations or in legacy industries spend significant time, cost and resource to maintain the heavy legacy applications. IT leaders need to truly work hard on achieving IT management excellence which is more as a journey than a destination. Because information, technology, and other IT assets and resources need to be centralized, reallocated, updated or replaced if needed to improve business efficiency, optimize processes, and build the business capacity and competency.

Running a real-time digital organization means high-responsiveness and high speed. Because the ways of doing business and meeting customer expectations both tend to be more flexible than the siloed industrial age. The degree of business responsiveness depends on how those systems and subsystems interact with each other, and those interactions can be structural, technical, informational, or human. IT flexibility and maintainability are dependent on the proper module design architecture, with reusability and process flow, etc. CIOs are in the right position to set good policies to ensure information and technology accessibility, responsiveness, reliability, to help the business achieve strategic responsiveness and organizational flexibility. There’s always a compromise to make, and balance to strike for quality and speed. Digital organizations must have strategic responsiveness to process business information almost real-time, communicate and collaborate with business counterparts timely. The reality is that organizations that do not respond to external environmental changes will quickly outcompete nimbler and more adaptable companies catch up and take their customers. IT organization needs to have the flexibility to take the different approach with the adaptability to meet the business’s expectation.

Profitability: To accelerate organizational maturity, IT needs to discover ways to move up the stack and provide business value (innovation) and not spend their cycles "keeping the lights on" as just a cost center. The challenge is getting out from the daily burden, and spend more resources and time on innovation-related activities. In the end, it is not about technology, but what technology can do when it is enabling and integrating with change management and business processes to deliver strategic differentiation. It is also not about information, but how to refine information to gain business foresight, capture the growth opportunities of the business and demystify the innovation puzzles. Do not underestimate the perfect digital wave of combined business integration of all of the exponential growth curves. IT is also an important component in building differentiated business capabilities, which allow the organization to explore the new opportunities and unleash business potential. IT is a prudent and effective steward of the organization’s resources particularly profit and strives to be a revenue contributor to the business. Being striving is to try to achieve the optimized result, and make the strenuous effort on IT management effectiveness and maturity.

IT needs to build a good reputation as a trusted business partner and an innovative problem-solver. Thus, reliability, flexibility, profits with ROIs, optimization for improving business efficiency should be the driving force behind IT management. IT digitalization is the journey of making continuous improvement and doing more with innovation.


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