Monday, September 24, 2018

Five “C”haracteristics of Digital IT Organization

The CIO is not just about leveraging IT to keep the lights on only, but about strengthening all these important digital characteristics and managing IT as the business Change Agent.

The abundance of information and the unprecedented digital convenience brought by powerful technologies changes the way we think, live, and work. Information Technology is now permeating into every corner of the business, impacting every business unit, and it's becoming the driver of changes and digitalization. Thus, digital IT leaders have to reinvent IT organization from a support function to the trustful business partner with the following five "C"haracteristics.

The digital CIOs’ leadership penetration is about the depth of leadership quintessence and the breadth of enterprise knowledge and technical expertise upon an understanding of the business as a whole. They are the business leader first, and then IT manager next. In many organizations, the gap between IT and business is the reality, lack of communication clarity is often the root cause. IT leaders need to initiate business conversations and tailor different audience by speaking business dialects; master communication content to convey the core messages, understand communication context and leverage different communication styles to improve the conversation effectiveness. Great IT leaders know how to advocate IT values to the business partners by pointing out the key issues IT can help to solve or sharing the insight that the business is looking for. CIOs as good ‘storytellers” will help business customers or partners gain open perspectives on IT performance and potential. Good communicators are aware of what they want to communicate, how they should communicate and above all, ensure that they have communicated in the right way, and strike the right balance between “over communication and “less is more.” With proficient knowledge and great communication skills, CIOs can have strategic conversations at the roundtable; tough negotiations with vendors; empathetic talks with employees, as well as touchy-feely chats with customers. Good conversations can stimulate creativity and encourage constructive criticism, close perception and collaboration gaps between IT and business.

Convergence: We are stepping into the digital age with the convergence of enterprise IT and IT consumerization. The very characteristics of digital organizations are fluid, flexible, informative, autonomous, hyperconnected, and interdependent. Today’s customers and employees expect applications to be as intuitive and task-oriented to improve their productivity and engagement. More companies across sectors have to deal with continuous disruptions often driven by IT and claim they are running the information management business. In fact, the digital convergence of hardware devices and software services are creating new business models and generating new revenue sources. Digital convergence accelerates information flow, streamlines user-friendly business processes (with the convergence of structural and nonstructural processes) and improve business maturity. This is actually a golden opportunity for CIOs today to take the converging journey of digitalization, modernization, and innovation by enabling, governing, and optimizing the consumer-driven information technology management.

Consistency: Consistency facilitates efficiencies in business operations and the organizational ability to deliver a shared brand promise across services, sectors, and business boundaries. With fast-paced changes and fierce business competitions, IT organizational maturity is not based on how many years IT organization have been around to support the business, but about how proactively IT can respond to the business requests; how effectively IT can provide tailored solutions to meet the business needs; how flexible IT can adapt to changes and how innovatively IT can deliver intuitive products or service to delight customers consistently. In reality, IT often suffers from overload, lack of business resource management disciplines including supporting process development. Thus, in those IT organizations, inconsistency, silo, and short-term focus cloudy business vision, decrease productivity, stifle changes and decelerate business speed. From IT investment perspective, building consistent IT delivery ability as the core business asset is about how IT can reframe planning processes in order along with re-framing of in-place processes that filter and fund investment. IT is essential to earning and holding the trust of the business. Consistency remains a favorite mantra for IT management.

Creativity: Digital IT management is both art and science. Businesses are looking for IT to add new innovative methods for management of complexity and investigating innovative business solutions. Unleashing the creative potential of IT enables IT to become the game changer of the business. Being able to become innovative or close is being able to think, and create new things. Business creativity is to apply the creative thinking for problem-solving and achieving business goals. Creativity is the core of what makes IT strategic in any company, it is critical that creativity is focused not on the technology, but on how it can be applied to advance the business objectives. Running creative IT doesn’t mean IT should get ride of all frameworks or processes, go wild or rogue; on the opposite, a good framework and flexible processes improve innovation effectiveness and help IT stay focus and take a structural approach to manage innovation.

Customers: People-centricity is the very characteristic of the digital organization. IT needs to shift its focus from inside-out operation driven to outside-in customer-centric. The customer-centric company can be defined as one that adopts specific business practices that result in high levels of customer satisfaction and loyalty. Information Technology is being leveraged every day to digitize the touch point and enhance the customer experience with or without the user cases from an IT department. IT has both internal and external customers. In fact, listen to your customers, stakeholders, vendors, partners, and staff, focusing on customer needs should be an easier path to grow the innovation fruit. Engaging and empowering end users is vital for improving IT maturity. In the digital era, the biggest challenge to business success is IT and the biggest challenge of IT is about understanding the businesses and customers’ expectations. Always take the customer view as the basis of measurement for continuous IT deliveries, reduce the delivery cycle time and improve customer experiences.

The CIO is not just about leveraging IT to keep the lights on only, but about strengthening all these important digital characteristics and managing IT as the business Change Agent. The role of modern CIO is to identify and blend the processes and practices that information and technology can assist and shape the business by linking all digital aspects together to enforce the value creation and drive digital transformation.


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