Sunday, May 13, 2018

IT Personalization: How to Run Digital IT with Differentiated Advantage

IT personalization, IT consumerization, and IT brand-building are a few correlated, iterative, and integral efforts of IT digitization.

IT is always at the center of change. The emergence of potential opportunities for exploiting digitization is likely to follow a nonlinear pattern at exponential speed, as the pervasiveness of an organization’s digitization journey increases. IT can no longer just “keep the lights on,” IT leaders need to think strategically and creatively about alternative solutions and ask themselves tough questions about how to personalize IT to gain differentiated business competency.

Should IT be completely centralized, or embedded into business units to a certain degree? IT continues to grow in importance to organizations, both operationally and as a competitive advantage. But there is no one size fits all practices to run digital IT. IT needs to shift its role from a service provider to business solutionary. Some leading companies have already moved from the IT-business alignment stage to IT- business engagement. On one side, it means that IT needs to penetrate into the business functions and structures, provide tailored solutions to solve either existing or emerging business problems. On the other side, centralized IT can improve management adaptability and efficiency. Tactically, centralized IT will govern technology usage in a highly effective and efficient way and has the better purchasing power to negotiate with vendors. Strategically, centralized IT can manage information - one of the most invaluable business assets of the company holistically, improve IT governance effectiveness. From the talent management perspective, It does make sense to assign some IT staff in the business functions or work closely with internal customers for truly understanding business deeply; or bring business folks into IT for getting first-hand feedback from users on how to improve the overall business performance. Keep in mind though, IT organizational structure tuning is the means to the end, the end is how to achieve “IT-personalization” for enforcing communication and collaboration, building trust and improving transparency.

Should IT put more focus on internal users or end customers? Digital is the age of people. Leading IT organizations are shifting their focus from inside-out operation-driven to outside-in customer-centric. IT has both internal customers and end customers, the personalized IT gives customers an impression on how IT can tailor their needs to solve problems and achieve higher-than-expected business results; support internal customers to improve productivity and empower change and innovation; as well as delight external customers for business growth. It also means that IT is not just an order taker waiting for the customers’ requests, it takes initiatives to approach problems innovatively. It knows when to say YES and when to say NO to customers persuasively. IT is also changing their reputation from a controller to an innovation hub, take different propositions and approaches to a problem or a new interpretation, to ultimately solve the problems. Therefore, IT needs to work closely with internal customers to improve operational excellence. But to move IT up to the next level of organizational maturity, IT needs to refine information to capture the insight of end customers. Real-Time customer insight helps to improve customer satisfaction. Deploy a range of technologies that focus on improving the customer's experience, making the investment to deliver to them products/services which more closely meet their needs, you are doing so to a greater extent than your competitors, you are gaining the competitive business advantage.

Should IT build or buy? With the increasing pace of change and unprecedented business dynamic, IT leaders need to make the case to successfully bring quality and speed with IT deliveries. The personalized IT is designed for change. IT shouldn’t and cannot build everything from scratch, IT management has to make many tradeoffs, and leverage multiple variables to build IT competency. All large-scale businesses build and buy, IT managers should do some check-up for the upcoming initiative: Is it your core competency? Will this products/service create a competitive advantage for your organization? What's your budget? What's the perceived value of the business? Is there a cost-benefit or is it a discussion about timing and convenience for buying vs. building? The main principle is: Buy for speed and cost efficiency; build for improving IT capacity and developing skills and capability. Buy vs. Build would depend on a combination of strategy, functionalities required, affordability and timing as well as how to personalized IT with differentiated competency.

Digital organizations are all about information savvy, adaptation, people-centricity, high-performance, and speed. IT personalization, IT consumerization, and IT brand-building are a few correlated, iterative, and integral efforts of IT digitization. It’s a critical step to shift IT from a commodity service provider to a business solutionary, from a cost center to a revenue generator with the unique personality to create differentiated business competency.


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