Monday, May 14, 2018

Is IT Viewed as an Inhibitor or the Driver of Change

To build a high-mature digital organization, every department needs to work collaboratively to ensure the success of the entire business.

We live in a technological world and every day more and more technology affects the way we live and work. Great opportunity, danger, and disruption are around every corner. However, many IT organizations are still perceived by business as a support function, slow to change. Forward-looking CIOs need to ask themselves: Is IT viewed as an inhibitor or the driver of change? What’re the best and next practices to reinvent IT for getting digital ready?

Trust building: The gap between IT and business is always the very obstacle to unlock business performance and accelerate speed. Unless there are collaborative and understanding environments, the perception is that IT is raising roadblocks to changes. In leading organizations, CIOs will continue to be put on the front line to run IT for leading changes, they need to really understand the business strategy and synchronize with those business goals. To bridge both the perception gap and change gap, trust is key. That means IT needs to behave more like an integral part of the business. This can only be achieved through constant engagement and both sides see the other as a "partner" rather than as an adversary. Without trust and empathetic communication, the business usually blames IT for not delivering without understanding and accepting their own role in the failure. On the other side, if IT doesn't completely understand what the stakeholders are asking of; or if the stakeholders don’t understand what IT is delivering, the results will reflect the disconnect, and all parties will get frustrated. IT becomes an easy excuse for being too late and above budget. There, trust means that a business understands how complex IT could be behind the intuitive user interface, and IT learns how to speak business language. So IT leaders can promote their department in the right way. You will simultaneously create a level of trust which transcends that discussion to in-depth communication and seamless collaboration.

Riding change curve ahead of the rest of company: Many businesses still think their IT organizations are the controller or even the inhibitor to changes due to “risk-avoidance” mentality, as IT plays a crucial role in “Keeping the lights on.” The change should never be for its own sake. On the other hand, change is inevitable with increasing pace, thus, IT needs to become risk-intelligent, CIOs need to understand how technology affects each area of the enterprise, they should become the confident change leader, evolving leadership skills to not only match the pace with changes in technology, the pace at which the organization can manage changes effectively but also ride change curve ahead of the rest of the company and proactively drive innovation. CIOs need to be able to recognize the struggles of the company by understanding the business beyond IT, to ensure their organization is ready for change, space and time are made to scope, plan, and execute, but not through ad-hoc activities. The digital CIOs need to be equipped with an intrapreneurs' mindset to run IT as the business and manage both opportunities and risks accordingly, to ensure IT is strategically positioned to be ahead of where the business is moving next, ultimately becoming the change agent.

Leading radical changes such as digitalization: IT is the linchpin of the digitalization. As many organizations are reaching the inflection point for the radical digitalization, IT provides an important structure and framework to streamline processes and lead digital transformation in a structural way. For well-established organizations, IT resources and dynamic capabilities are often the company’s secret sauce and the key to how they deliver value to the business with both quick win and long-term business competency. Digitalization is the long journey, IT leaders need to be able to convey technological vision vividly and articulate varying opportunities and possibilities, potential curbs or bumps, upward challenges and downwards risks on the way logically. More specifically, IT can share ideas with business through alternative communication channels or audience-tailored styles such as IT briefing, informative team meeting, idea exchange program, or skill training, etc. CIOs can apply their knowledge of technology to propose products, services, or new ways to do things. Digitalization is not just about technology update, it’s a multidimensional business expansion with IT as the linchpin.

To build a high-mature digital organization, every department needs to work collaboratively to ensure the success of the entire business. Communication, collaboration, transparency, respect and change leadership are all the keys to breaking down the realities and perceptions. Ultimately, IT can reinvent its reputation as the strategic partner of the business, change agent, innovation hub, and the revenue generator.


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