Friday, April 13, 2018

CIOs as “Chief Insight Officer”: How to Fix These IT Management Flaws

To truly reach the premium IT management, CIOs have to reach out horizontally to their business peers, be able to “sell” the business value of IT at the boardroom and C-level.

Many IT organizations still get stuck at the lower level of maturity. Old IT thinking cannot move fast enough in the era of the digitalization. Digital CIOs today need to have both business acumen and technological understanding to become the trustful business partner. They must be able to fix the following IT management flaws in order to improve IT performance and maturity for getting IT digital ready.

Overly narrowed IT management: IT management is not just the business of IT department, it’s the responsibility of the entire company. Silo thinking and management style will stifle information flow, and thus business flow. To put another way, IT is not a function that can be handled only inside the IT department or by IT managers only. Often, IT failure is caused by the management of IT rather than just IT management. The breadth and depth of IT management include people (skills & capability), process ((workflow, process effectiveness & efficiency), organizational structure design, and technology update. Therefore, IT should get a deeper understanding of issues facing business today, identify opportunities for growth and delight customers (both internal and end customers). The responsibility for evaluating IT investment lies with the C-Level/board leadership team. IT needs to get full support from the board and the top management team in order to break down silos and be managed more holistically. Otherwise, they do not have authority and mechanism to collect sufficient information needed to provide the invaluable business insight; they also do not have all the skills necessary to evaluate IT investment and run IT holistically. IT needs to help the business explore the breadth and the depth of information management, and integrate IT & business into a holistic digital organization. To fix the flaw of the overly narrowed IT management, IT leaders & managers need to leverage systems thinking, take the outside-in business lens, and practice the multitude of IT engineering and management disciplines in a structural way.

Incompetent Communication Management:
IT failure is often caused by solving the wrong problems (fixing the symptom only) due to the miscommunication between IT and business. There are different dialects existing in the enterprise. In practice, the mistake that most organizations make in this regard is that they fail to translate the high-level language of strategy into the professional language of the various staff specialism. Thus, incompetent communication management is the root cause of many IT failures. To make things worse, the wrong cause of problems will perhaps grow new or larger problems and create the disconnect between IT and the business. Thus, CIOs need to communicate effectively to avoid dark mushroom management styles. To improve communication competency, digital IT leaders today have to be fluent in both business language and IT terminology, able to switch back and forth without “lost in translation.” There are multi-layer relationships, such as business peer/shareholder relationship, customer relationship, vendor relationship., etc, IT leaders need to maintain all of them well; there are multi-channel communications IT leaders should master so they can target the different audience, in order to harness communication and build up the long-term business partnership. Internally, the role of the CIO is to take vision and strategic goals of the business and translate them into the technology requirements, and then communicate further with IT management/staff and translate technique requirement to their daily tasks, to ensure employee engagement and accountability.

Inside-out IT performance management: Many IT organizations are still perceived by the business as the cost center because often these traditional IT organizations were running inside-out operation-driven, and being measured via performance indicators only IT care about. IT inability to measure and have a transparent and agreed-upon way to measure the value they bring to the organization tarnishes IT reputation as the support center only. They lose the trust of the investors or shareholders. The peril of IT performance management such as, the wrong metrics selection or ineffective measurement practices perhaps mislead or cause management conflicts or resource misalignment. To fix the flaws of IT management, The promise of IT performance management needs to be able to map to the business objectives and strategic business goals. Selecting the right key performance measurement is a crucial step in IT measurement because the processes include to answering why you are choosing that, how you will use them and whether you have enough resources to manage measurement. The responsibility for evaluating and monitoring the performance of IT investment lies with the C-Level/board leadership team. Without appropriate measurements, it is hard to tell whether IT investment gets the satisfied returns, or attempted improvements make the situation better or worse objectively.

IT is impacting every business unit and is becoming the driver of business change and digital transformation. To truly reach the premium IT management, CIOs have to reach out horizontally to their business peers, be able to “sell” the business value of IT at the boardroom and C-level, to get the business sponsorship and have fair peer to peer communication and collaboration. By fixing those management flaws, there is a golden opportunity for CIOs to lead the way by catalyzing change, optimizing business processes, reinventing IT brand, and leading digital transformation.


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