Friday, August 17, 2018

CIO as "Chief Improvement Officer": Rebooting IT to get Digital Ready

Reinventing IT starts with rebooting mindsets of the business management, following by retooling IT management and training IT staffs with digital fluency.

Organizations are stepping into the deep digital normal with the increasing speed of changes. Information is abundant, technology is pervasive. Never before has IT and business been so closely tied together, never before has technology moved more quickly and missteps have larger trajectory impacts on every aspect of the business. Therefore, CIOs play a crucial role in leading changes as they continue to be put on the front line. They need to deal with constant ambiguity and digital disruptions for rebooting IT to get digital ready.

Rebooting IT mindset: Traditional CIOs have the controller’s mindset to run IT organizations for keeping the lights on. However, with disruptive changes and unprecedented business dynamic, to keep IT relevant, CIOs must reboot IT mindset to become the strategic business partner and change agent. CIOs should make self-check: Is IT moving faster than the rest of the company? Does IT stretch, challenge, or interrupt the status quo? Is IT provocative? Digital CIOs should be equipped with the advanced mindset to make sure that nothing is dismissed due to out of dated beliefs or knowledge. The digital CIO is skeptical about the conventional understanding of the problems so that they examine everything before accepting it for its real truth or advising it to others. They should set a positive leadership tone to encourage independent thinking and create a working environment that encourages dissent and candor. One of the major sources of the divide that segregates business and IT is often the communication dialog - the lexicon used to communicate with people or the thought processes leveraged to make decisions. CIOs need to strategically work with the business as trustful business partners, share the technological vision, predict emerging digital trends or business opportunities, or provide alternative business solutions.

Bootstrapping innovation: Innovation is the light that all forward-looking businesses are pursuing. However, few companies have differentiated business competency to manage innovation effectively. Innovations happen at the intersection of people and technology, thus, IT has a crucial role to play in either idea management or innovation implementation. CIOs should get really creative on how they orchestrate and implement change and be experimental to try new things. It’s especially important for CIOs to look at innovation from the perspective of developing business-wide innovation capabilities. Because innovation capability and capacity are based on hard elements such as systems or processes; as well as soft factors such as leadership, communication, or culture. Especially for strategic innovation, the leadership team has to become involved in that capacity construction. As long as the experiences and skills are adequate, it’s mainly the organizational environment that is the driver of the successful innovation effort. Building innovation capacity takes planning and proactive management approach. It will be disappointing for those who wait until the last moment of some tactical tasks, and then expect innovation to be forthcoming magically but come up short. Bootstrapping innovation involves the good alignment of people, process, technology, partnership, manner, and culture cultivation, Innovation capacity building is a long journey.

Retooling IT management: Most IT organizations today are overloaded and understaffed, and IT management spends most of resources and time on tactical management. Too often IT is not involved in the strategic goal setting stage of the business, but instead at a task level. That will create the gap between business priority and IT priority, and decrease IT effectiveness. Thus, it’s important to retool IT management to model powerful collaboration. There are too many things in the daily agenda of IT, there’re always some constraints for businesses to balance a healthy portfolio of “run, grow, and transform,” to explore the new opportunities or deploy the new ideas. Highly effective CIOs are moving in the direction to make responsibilities to have an investment in technology really pay off by modeling and inspiring business colleagues to collaborate. Listen to customers, stakeholders, vendors, partners, and staff, enforce customer-centricity. Create liaison and business partnership with technical people that can understand the business, figure out what the business need, share unique business insight as to what IT capacity can provide, work out if it makes financial sense, balancing risk and reward tradeoffs. The goal to retool IT management is to improve its effectiveness, efficiency, and overall performance.

Reinventing IT starts with rebooting mindsets of the business management, following by retooling IT management and training IT staffs with digital fluency to solve critical business problems, not just fixing technical symptoms, proactively anticipate business value delivery through the knowledge of information technology, to ensure IT becomes the business’s strategic partner and change agent.


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