Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Running Digital IT as both a Progressive Journey and Cautious Tale

CIOs need to know how to balance the seemly opposite forces for running a high-mature digital organization both confidently and cautiously.

Digital disruptions are inevitable, and digital transformation is unstoppable. The dawn of the digital era means the increasing pace of change, the abundance of information, the emerging opportunities, and fierce competition, The multidimensional digital effects provide impressive advantages in term of the speed of delivery and unprecedented business convenience. IT is the threshold to knit all important business elements into a unique set of business competencies. Nowadays running digital IT is both art and science, a progressive journey and a cautious tale.

IT management must get a feeler of the business view with progressive thinking and critical thinking: If traditional IT organization is only a business enabler, and then digital IT needs to become the strategic business partner. IT leaders should get a feeler of the business view, IT needs to be acutely in tune with the business, see the gap between what is currently available and what is possible. It’s not sufficient for IT to keep the lights on only, it has to dig deeper to diagnose the root causes and solve critical business problems to benefit end customers. To proactively lead change and drive digitalization, the CIO has to look forward, shape a technological vision, and actively position the business in the right place to take full advantage of business opportunities for moving forward, but also be cautious of constant disruptions and potential risks. On one side, CIOs should be the open-minded visionary to predict future trends; on the other side, IT leaders need to be the strategic business leader to “keep the ends,” in mind, the end is either about the business outcome or customer satisfaction. They should try new technologies, not as shining gadgets only, but make sure there are clear returns that can’t be found in the existing technologies, with great care on the potential risks. Highly effective digital CIOs are able to provide pragmatic pieces of advice and recommendations to the business on how to leverage IT in innovation and problem-solving. They run IT as the business.

Develop a scientific IT management framework to leverage the systematic view and a structural approach: To run IT both aggressively and cautiously, an effective CIO’s job is to leverage a system view and take the structural approach to improve operations by reducing the waste and burden on the company, but also digitizing IT in a structural way. In the face of vast areas of unknowns, an effective CIO understands that a system is a necessary precondition for an effective intervention, and leverage a scientific IT management framework is critical to managing IT systematically. The well-designed IT management framework addresses both tactical IT practices of getting the work done and key business factors that associated with the long-term business goals, to ensure that digitalization must take place within the organization at all levels in order to lead change in a structural way. The effective Information management can process and refine information, control risks, and ensures one of the most invaluable business assets - information can create or multiply business value and maximize its return on investment.

CIOs need to know how to balance the seemly opposite forces for running a high-mature digital organization both confidently and cautiously: In the digital era in which a fresh new idea could create an inspiring success story overnight, but every tweet has the potential to plunge a company into a reputational crisis. Digital leaders today must be both optimistic and cautious; see the positives, recognize good and bring those to the light; but do not ignore the potential pitfalls, faults or errors. This is particularly important to run a digital IT organization, as CIOs will make tough choices all the time, such as: When to lead at front boldly; when to take a cautious baby step; when to enforce the management discipline; when to loosen the rules for encouraging innovation; when to make an incremental changes; when to “rock the boat,” accordingly. Digital CIOs should learn how to leverage the pairs of seemly opposite forces such as opportunity vs. risk, logic vs. creativity, analysis vs. synthesis, stability vs. acceleration, etc, to run digital IT with steadfast speed.

Velocity, complexity, and uncertainty will characterize the future. Running digital IT as the progressive journey is all about embracing changes and making a leap of the digital paradigm shift. Running digital IT as the cautious tale doesn’t mean that IT is a roadblock to slow down the changes, it is about how to leverage critical thinking and systems thinking to manage risks and respond to the ever-changing working environment promptly, with the goal to run a high-performance digital organization.


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