Tuesday, July 10, 2018

CIOs as “Chief Insight Officer”: How to Peel Through IT Digital Maturity from Different Angles

Gauging IT success is about triangulating value from different lenses and peeling through IT digital maturity from different angles. 

Technology is pervasive and the information is permeating into almost every corner of the business. Business initiatives today nearly always involve some form of technology implementation or information refinement. What we are seeing now is the further extension of these earlier phases of computing. We have more computing power, hyper-connectivity, abundant data, greater potential empowerment of the knowledge workforce, etc. Thus we need to brainstorm the better way to lead and manage. Many think the new way of running the business is the management through Information Technological lens; leading organizations across the industrial sectors claim they are in the information management business. To improve long-term business competency, how can CIOs peel through IT digital maturity from different angles?

Operational excellence: IT is the lubricant to a well-designed business system, IT needs to take the wise steps in doing consolidation, modernization, automation, integration, and optimization for improving its overall digital maturity. IT has to provide stability and operational excellence to “keep the business lights on.” Automation is an important stage to improve efficiency, balance demand and supply, and increasing productivity. IT management needs to be in the continuous tuning mode to streamline processes and tighten coordination and collaboration with the business partners. That requires IT management to make a serious amount of positive communication whilst continuously looking for the cost-efficient replacement of unstable or old processes. The CIO should position and maintain the IT organization to ensure it addresses both "IT effectiveness" and "IT efficiency," to achieve operational excellence.

Innovation: To move up digital maturity, businesses are looking for IT to add new innovative methods for management of complexity, improving quality and driving digitalization. The available digital technology just makes innovation easier to do now than in the past - less costly, more easily accessible. Innovation can be categorized as the breakthrough innovation, sustainable innovation (better version of product/service) or efficiency innovation (process improvement). IT can drive all sort of innovation and improve business revenue growth. There are few business units that are as deeply embedded into each corporate function as IT. Running IT as an innovation hub is the real challenge because it requires some kind of rethinking and reinventing the corporate processes and building the business capabilities for managing innovation systematically. It is also important to leverage that knowledge to uncover hidden value, not only within IT but benefit the entire organization. When the IT organization is perceived as being innovative, it is on the right track to reach the success of digital transformation.

Simplicity: Complexity is one of the emerging digital characteristics. Imagine the complexity that comes in due to these characteristics such as less structure, more rules and regulations, diversity, volatility, ambiguity, unpredictability, lack of linearity and increased flux, etc. There are necessary complexity and unnecessary complication. Technically, the complexity of aggregate layers of every internal system is a burden that often causes conflict, and the CIO needs to manage that complexity regardless of who builds it. Generally speaking, simplicity rules the day because simplicity brings speed, clarity, flexibility, and productivity. The science of IT management is to simplify unnecessary complexity, manage the full application lifecycle, retire legacy systems; reassess any systems that sucks too much resource & energy require too much IT effort; tighten coordination with vendors and partners, in order to improve organizational responsiveness and maturity.

In traditional organizations, IT is perceived by the business as slow to change, because IT is in the reactive mode, often set back, waiting for the business’s requests. To run a digital IT organization, IT has to speed up as a business enabler to adapt to the change faster than the rest of organizations. A high-responsive IT should lead the way to lift one foot and shift the organizational structure more into participative models that better support the quantum leap in speed we are experiencing. An accelerating IT separates the exploitation of the existing methods and technologies from the exploration of the new way to do things by leveraging the emergent digital trends. IT needs to quickly and cost-effectively confirm that the corresponding changes work smoothly to move the business forward and meet customers’ standardization. IT consumerization is the catalyst to fuel today’s fast business speed, boost employees’ productivity, reduce the cost and delight customers. The goals to accelerate IT is to achieve strategic responsiveness and organizational flexibility of the business.

Resilience: With high velocity, unprecedented uncertainty, and fierce competitions today, organizations today must be resilient to survive through continuous digital disruptions. The business expects IT to play a critical role in governance and risk management, to ensure rigorous compliance with regulatory requirements and move up business maturity from risk mitigation to risk intelligence, in order to run and protect business flawlessly. More often than not, IT failure can cause the fatal failure of the entire business, and IT success will catalyze their organizational success from a long-term strategic perspective. IT organization that is flexible to accommodate rapidly changing business strategies and requirement are able to mitigate business risks and improve the organizational risk management effectiveness and intelligence.

The digital world is so technology-driven and information-intensive, IT needs will only expand, and most likely expand hyperbolically. Gauging IT success is about triangulating value from different lenses and peeling through IT digital maturity from different angles. The priority for CIOs is to genuinely position IT as an integral and inseparable part of the business. The success of IT is not for its own sake, but to ensure the entire business success for the long term.


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