Saturday, March 17, 2018

What are the Real Challenges of a CIO to Build a high-performing IT?

As businesses embark on the “Digital Era” of computing and managing, digital IT requires the balance of learning and doing, standardization and innovation, stability and speed.

Information is permeating into every corner of the business, technology is often the driving force of digital disruptions. IT is impacting every business unit and is becoming the driver of business changes. The business paradigm is shifting from the industrial era with the scarcity of knowledge to an information-abundant digital era. And therefore, the role of IT in the current business environment should reflect such a significant shift. However, many traditional IT organizations are overloaded and understaffed, running at the transactional role and still get stuck at the lower level of the organizational maturity. What are the real challenges of a CIO to build a high-performing and high-mature digital IT?

The main part of the IT budget is sunk in the existing IT-systems for keeping the light on:
“Keeping the light on” is always fundamental for running IT smoothly. Due to the limited budget and resource, most of the organizations, especially those legacy companies always struggle with keeping the light on and suck the majority of their budget and resources on transaction-related activities. To build a high-performing IT, IT leadership needs to become more strategic, innovative, and manage a healthy portfolio to strike the right balance of “running, growing, and transforming.” Quick-fixing the handy issues is necessary to build a good IT reputation. But to reinvent IT as the trustful business partner, IT management needs to be in the continuous tuning mode through consolidation, modernization, integration, optimization, and innovation; provides stability and operational health. So, IT can keep the bottom line with efficiency; and do more with innovation. It requires a seamless IT-business integration via a serious amount of positive communication whilst continuously looking for a cost-efficient replacement of unstable or "old" processes, tighten coordination and collaboration with business partners. IT can move up from “surviving to striving and then to thriving mode” for getting digital ready.

With emerging on-demand IT service models, IT faces the challenges to improve its competency and keep relevant: An effective CIO has to first stop the pain, take care of chronic operational issues and deliver much-requested upgrades and tactical solutions. The technical challenge is that new systems are difficult to implant into existing processes and system flow. Regular system updates are challenging the existing IT continuously. More and more of the budget is being allocated to the departmental heads with the 'threat' that business units will procure SAAS solutions based on slick sales patter without involving IT. This is putting pressure on IT to prove that they are the most effective route. This requires that CIOs need to be acutely in tune with the business, help plan the budgets, predict the financial and resource requirements, understand the constraints and work hand in hand providing support as one organization.

New technologies arise and information grows so fast that it is hard to catch-up with speed: Organizations rely more and more on technologies; the IT department has more and more to overcome in running at digital speed. Unfortunately, many IT organizations play as the controller and have been perceived as the change laggard in their company. With increasing pace of changes and exponential growth of information, people tend to have high expectation of digital flow, very little patience with technology issues. IT has to not only improve its own speed, but also overall organizational responsiveness. IT must SPEED UP because speed matters for businesses to adapt to changes; to grasp the opportunities for marketing expansion. The type of speed issues (such as IT slow to change) comes from gaps created between IT and the rest of the company. Forward-thinking IT organizations separate the exploitation of the existing methods and technologies from the exploration of the new way to do things via leveraging the emerging digital trends and accelerate the speed. GRC management is more crucial in today's digital dynamic. IT management has to weight risks & reward, take prudent risks and discover better ways to mitigate risks, also grasp the business growth opportunities proactively.

Due to the changing nature of technology, the CIO role is a challenging perch to sit on. Whilst they need to ensure their IT department keeps the lights on, continually improves and drives business transformation proactively. As businesses embark on the “Digital Era” of computing and managing, digital IT requires the balance of learning and doing, standardization and innovation, stability and speed.


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