Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Is Digital CIO Well Grounded to Lead Change and Innovation

 The CIO needs to be well grounded in first and foremost for driving change effectively and leading digitalization seamlessly.

With the increasing pace of changes and fast growing information, organizations across industrial sectors declare they are in the information management business; information nowadays is the invaluable resource and asset of organizations, technology is the force behind digital disruptions. Clearly, the role of IT and that of the CIO is going through significant changes, IT leaders must understand the business from different angles and well grounded to lead change and innovation masterfully.

High ground influence: High ground means breakthrough, the transformative leadership. Corporate IT has no choice but to embrace transformational change or literally face extinction. Thus, CIOs must rise above the status quo, keep an eye on the horizon and practice high ground leadership. Break the old rules when it is necessary, experiment and develop the next practices to innovate IT. CIOs should share their technological vision, offer something in their dialogue that really helps business partners see how they can differentiate themselves or develop their business practices. IT is the crucial component in building the strategic advantage of the business. Re-imaging the future of business is exciting, reinventing the business to get digital ready takes both bold leadership and strategic planning. IT needs to be influential enough to perform the “art of possible,” provide customers with the right solution in the right manner at the right cost. Especially the “what is possible” part, don’t just take the order and deliver what the business asks for, but be able to provide the “best solution” for the business requirement, and help the entire business build the long-term advantage. The CIO role is an enterprise leadership and senior executive role who is responsible for the leadership of the information agenda. The high ground of CIO leadership is to become the business strategist, an innovation leader, and a digital master. The aggressive role of IT today for many organizations is a business solutionary, information master, and a digital transformer.

Middle ground balance: In almost every business environment, IT is an enabler /a tool/catalyzer, or even a game changer, etc. There are transactional part of IT to support business running and the transformational part of IT to make a digital leap. The business transactions usually follow a technical cookbook to keep the lights on and improve business efficiency, but often the digital transformation needs to rewrite a playbook to guide through the breakthrough changes. That means IT leaders need to take a balanced approach to “run, grow, and transform” businesses, manage innovation and deal with risks in a structural way. To keep the middle ground balance, senior IT leaders have to weigh the risk/reward/ongoing maintenance (labor) equation all the time whether conscious or not. IT priorities, which reflect business value, are clear and no longer look arbitrary. It takes commitment and discipline to stay focused on the real priorities of the business instead of being distracted by what seems to be more urgent at any given moment. It's critical to make a middle ground balance of investing IT aggressively and managing cost wisely. An effective resource allocation scenario helps to take advantage of resources effectively, optimize cost, set priority accordingly to ensure most of the budget are allocated to cost/value proven business initiatives. There is a comprehensive business justification for information technology investment and longevity of investment including IT expenditure vs. saving., that needs to be used efficiently and treated as an asset like any other capital investment and used accordingly. IT should review upon the ROI of existing IT investment, whether the depreciated life cycle is completed or not; whether new technology/product mature enough in the business market to adopt. Keeping the middle ground balance enables IT to move forward at the steadfast speed.

Low ground fundamental right: The Surviving tier - keeping the lights on and bottom-line efficiency is still important for running IT as a trustful business partner. Make sure IT systems running following the preplanned schedule and performance standards. With the increasing speed of changes, keeping the business steady doesn't mean to be static or slow to change. Every part of the company should do what it can to gain business results while spending the least cost necessary. To keep low ground fundamental right and improve IT maintainability and efficiency, IT needs to prune the weed regularly and keep the process nimble. Because IT maintainability is decided by the quality of IT delivery, reusability, module design, and process flow, etc. CIOs can play the low ground leadership by leading from behind, delegation and hands-off. Sometimes, they need to take a step back for understanding things holistically, build the groundwork with the platform to provide tailored business solutions, or hands-off to avoid micro-management syndrome. The CIO role has always been about ensuring that technology within a firm is a platform for enabling businesses. IT needs to do a better job of quantifying the value of the services they provide, create a frictionless channel for resources to flow from the top line to the bottom line. IT needs to run like a business, buy what you need, use it the fullest, and ensure that IT can lead to the design of products and services that actually create a return. The CIO should position and maintain the IT organization to ensure it addresses both "IT effectiveness" and "IT efficiency," to achieve operational excellence.

The digital world is so technology-driven and information-intensive, IT needs will only expand, and most likely expand hyperbolically. Leadership is all about the future, about change, about progress and innovation, this is particularly critical to achieve IT leadership maturity. The priority for CIOs is to genuinely position IT as an integral and inseparable part of the business. The CIO needs to be well grounded in first and foremost for driving change effectively and leading digitalization seamlessly.


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