Saturday, April 7, 2018

CIOs as “Chief Insight Officer”: How to Improve IT Maturity

The true magic is happening when IT continues to grow in importance to organizations, both operationally and as a competitive advantage.

Technologies nowadays are the disruptive forces behind digital disruptions, and the information is the lifeblood of modern businesses. There is no doubt IT plays a critical role in creating business advantage. However, different IT organizations evolve digital with the different speed, and the enterprise as a whole is at the different stage of reaching business maturity. Therefore, digital IT leaders as “Chief Insight Officer” today, need to be able to envision technical trend, diagnose IT weakness, build business competency and improve overall organizational maturity.

Reconnect the missing link to enforce holistic IT management: Many traditional IT organizations still run as an isolated back-office function. Often, one of the biggest root causes of IT failure is that IT doesn't know what businesses or customers want, or only follow the users’ orders, without taking initiatives for discovering better solutions to solve real business issues. Frequent and early feedback will mitigate directional problems and ensure the solution delivered is exactly what businesses want. Further, silo information management is not always caused by the mismanagement of IT department. In fact, information management is not just the business of IT, it is the responsibility of the entire company. The full support from the business is critical for information management effectiveness. Silos are a product of organizational insecurity and internal competition for resources. But digital means flow, information flow, idea flow and business flow. The missing link in IT management can further cause change inertia, stifle innovation and idea flow, and make businesses missing opportunities to innovate and accelerate. IT is moving to reach higher maturity at the digital age, IT talent needs to have both technical and business skills, it should take a preponderant importance on the coming years to make the sustainable IT-Business relationship, to reconnect the missing link for enforcing holistic IT management.

Fill IT skills gap: IT skills gap is the reality. Due to the changing nature of technology, IT knowledge life cycle has been significantly shortened. Plus, there is the disconnect between IT short-term staff needs and long-term talent perspectives; there's also misunderstanding or miscommunication (lost in translation) between IT talent request and HR's searching mechanism. Often managers complain rather than solve the problem, managers complain about the cost but fail to understand the lost opportunity costs. The managers hire the static knowledge but ignore learning agility. The different IT role has the different focus. IT specialists can only plan their part, but not the part of other services. Architects, or some other specialized generalist role, on the other hand, are the ones that should have the right balance between technical and interpersonal skills to effectively plan and deliver IT-enabled business solutions. There are Out-of-Date talent recruiting and performance management practices and mechanism. There's a disconnect between short-term IT staff needs and long-term talent perspectives. Thus, when assessing talent, more dynamic and balanced approaches are needed. To fill the talent gaps, it is also important to encourage IT professionals stepping out of their comfort zone, continue to learn, continue to innovate and update performance management practices by assessing both quantity and quality result objectively.

Build differentiated digital competency: To achieve high-level maturity, IT needs to be value-added, not just running commodity services. It has to move from providing largely back-office support to become the prime facilitator, differentiator, and orchestrator of the high mature digital business. From information management perspective, while there is a lot of information flow in and out of the organization today, IT does not add value by simply storing, maintaining, and securing information. IT helps harness and understand that information to capture the business insight, provide ways to better recognize and act on that information for gaining the competitive business advantage. IT is not just the sum of services or processes, or monolithic hardware only, IT needs to integrate all important business elements into the unique business competency. Leveraging unique IT knowledge and capability to build business competency is crucial for the business's long-term growth and maturity. The true magic is happening when IT continues to grow in importance to organizations, both operationally and as a competitive advantage.

Digital IT is trending towards becoming service elastic, solution-driven, and on-demand which moves faster, more flexible, and more resilient. By spotting IT weakness, overcoming IT identity crisis and enforcing cross-functional communication & collaboration, the organization truly understands that IT is not just technical, but rather business oriented, innovative, with unique competency, IT can rejuvenate itself as the strategic business partner and the game changer.


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