Sunday, August 26, 2018

The CIO as “Chief Improvement Officer”: How to Drive Evolutionary Change for Running Digital-Ready IT

Leading evolutionary change and driving business growth is the never-ended journey. 

Technology becomes pervasive in the modern enterprise, IT continues to grow in importance to organizations, both operationally and as a competitive advantage. Nowadays, regardless of whether they like it or not, CIOs have to play multiple roles and often get obsessed with many things. One of the most pertinent roles for CIO is to become the “Chief Improvement Officer,” to drive evolutionary change and run digital ready IT organization.

Communicating, promoting, and educating: Digital means the rapid change, the high level of unrepeatability and unpredictability. The CIO as a change agent not only touches his/her own function but also needs to make an influence on an entire organization and business ecosystem. To reinvent IT as the strategic business partner, they should keep communicating, promoting, and educating. CIOs will be welcomed to the executive table if executives hear the business language they understand; the language which is the most beneficial to the company’s future - financial results, not just for the short-term result, but for the long-term perspective. Digital CIOs should have critical thinking skills, the high level of versatility, communication and engagement skills. IT-driven digital transformation can enforce business benefit by mixing diverse organizational ingredients to create products and processes which generate differentiated value, improve employee engagement and increase customer satisfaction. The business executive teams will accept CIOs as an ally only if they act as the trustful business partner and perform proactive contribution to acquiring goals.

Responsiveness, adaptability, and visibility: The continuous disruptions are often driven by the technologies, running a high-responsive IT organization needs to have the flexibility to take the different approach with the adaptability to meet the business’s expectation. The level of IT responsiveness also depends on how well CIOs can balance real technology needs against the risk tolerance of the enterprise. Running a highly responsive IT needs to get support from front desks to boardrooms. IT has to drive the changes and plays a pivotal role in digital transformation, focusing on the fastest speed available - because that is where the main threat to competitiveness. Digital CIOs should play a highly visible leadership role in conveying the technological vision and interacting with internal business executives or board of directors. They should practice expert power and share the unique business insight because they have the privilege to take an unbiased view of multiple issues across business and IT boundaries. IT needs to play an important role in building up digital enterprises which can succeed in combining two distinct but interconnected elements— strategic responsiveness and organizational flexibility, with the combination of an innovative culture that promotes responsiveness throughout the company.

Enabling, enhancing, and catalyzing: CIOs are accountable for the critical part of the business that is constantly changing and evolving. They should be capable of evolving leadership skills to not only match the pace with the changes in technology and the pace at which the organization can effectively manage these changes but also proactively enhance and catalyze changes in business transformation. The modern IT needs to provide highly integrated information lifecycle management solutions to conquer information management challenges, to provide information accessibility and availability, ensure transparency and visibility, and enable trust and reliability. IT maturity depends on where the organization perceives IT and the direction that the organization needs to head toward. Running IT as a business enabler and enhancer is about planning, funding, designing, building, operating, securing, optimizing, and maturing.

IT is the means to the end. Leading evolutionary change and driving business growth is the never-ended journey. In today’s information-driven dynamic business environment, there’s no shortage of problems to tackle, it’s all about to be able to get all the way around the task, to see it from all interests. Exceptional IT leadership is key to re-imagine IT and reinvent IT to achieve the art of possible.


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