Monday, August 6, 2018

The CIO as “Rule Maker”: Setting Principles to Run Digital IT

 It is at the tipping point that top performing companies see IT as an asset, capital, and source of competitive advantage for thriving in the digital age. 

Organizations today are in the middle of a sea change. As technology is often the disruptive force and information is the gold mine of the business, CIOs are absolutely vital to lead change. The journey of digitalization often have to work cross boxes instead within the box, explore broader as well as dive deeper; break down silos or overly restricted organizational hierarchy if necessary, and reinvent IT as the trustful business partner. Therefore, digital CIOs shouldn’t just follow the outdated rule or the best practices, but know how to set digital principles and guidelines, empower people to evolve, innovate, and accelerate, develop the next practices for running a high-performance digital IT organization.

Setting principles for enforcing IT and business relationship: Traditional IT organizations are usually perceived by the business as an isolated function and a cost center. To enforce a strong IT brand, CIOs need to lead the people-centric IT organization so that every level of the organization has great working relationships with the IT teams. There is the real elbow to elbow work between IT and the business to structure, communicate, and capture the business intention in a way that IT genuinely becomes an integral and inseparable part of the business. The role of the CIO continues to evolve rapidly in the midst of the overwhelming information growth and the accelerating changes in technology. One of the pertinent titles for CIOs is “Chief Interaction Officer,” for making leadership influence over the entire company scope. They need to set communication principles to enforce openness, trust, and transparency, harmonize the IT-business relationship and strike the right balance of “over-communication” and “less is more.”

Setting information management guidelines: Information is one of the most invaluable assets of the organization. Information Management is the critical success factor to run a real-time and high-performance digital organization. Poor information management implies not understanding what raw material they have to play with; poor leadership, not understanding the importance of information/knowledge; or poor measurement, not applying worthwhile evaluation to it to reveal the inherent value. By “quality data,” it means clean, organized, and actionable data from which to extract relevant information and insight. Thus, it is important for IT leaders to set information management principles for enforcing quality information, quality management, and quality measurement. A set of information management principles include such as, prioritizing according to the business’s strategic needs; focus on information adoption; aim to deliver a seamless user experience and deliver tangible business benefits.

Setting innovation management guidelines: Though creativity is often about breaking the old in order to create something new. Innovation does need the certain level of guidelines. Setting principles, tuning structure, and making programs are three levers to drive innovation. To manage innovation as a process, you need to frame the creative process and leverage limited resources to keep focus, set time limits, apply varying thinking techniques for managing innovation portfolios in a productive and sustainable way. More specifically, setting principles and applying disciplines to innovation is to better align innovation management with the business strategy, to justify the investment and initial results for innovation management and measurement. Innovation processes need to be rigorous, not too rigid; innovation is the change, change management needs to be an integral part of innovation management.

The characteristics of digital business are dynamic, volatile, uncertain, and hypercompetitive. It is at the tipping point that top performing companies see IT as an asset, capital, and source of competitive advantage for thriving in the digital age. To change with the tide and lead digitalization, CIOs have to set the principles, be able to both walk the talk and talk the walk and rejuvenate IT as the change organization.


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