Saturday, September 1, 2018

The CIO as the Digital Modernist

The digital CIO is a business savvy strategist and a digital modernist to advocate innovation and drive changes relentlessly.

The modernist is a believer in or supporter of modernism, especially in the arts. Information & technology is both art and science. The digital modernist CIO is an advocate to catalyze change and lead digitalization. Many perceive engineering as an art because it involves creative thinking, personalized observation and judgment, design thinking, intuition, and innovation. To unleash the digital potential of the business, organizations need to understand that IT is not just technical or scientific, but also artistic and delightful.

IT is the creative force of digitalization to pursue “the art of possible”: Running digital IT needs to work cross boxes instead within the box, and it involves new ways of bringing together ideas and resources to create something novel and achieve business objectives in any way possible. With faster pace of changes and continuous disruptions, CIOs need to lead proactively and become really creative on how they architect and implement changes, to ensure IT is strategically positioned to be ahead of where the business is moving now. The modern IT is not equal to IT modernization, it goes a step further, doing more with innovation. The CIO as the digital modernist helps to discover the creative side of IT and reimagines IT as the growth engine of running the digital business. The art of possible is to deliver the value of information in helping businesses grow, delighting customers and simplifying or figuring out new business models, as well as solving problems creatively. Exceptional IT leadership is key to re-imagine IT as an innovation hub and achieve the art of possible:

Create a culture among all staff to be always looking for innovative ideas: The CIO as the digital modernist should advocate and rejuvenate a culture of innovation so that people are more open to try new things and share thoughts and ideas fearlessly. Build a methodological platform and develop the best/next practices to ensure that there is a steady flow of fresh ideas floating in the innovation pipeline. The digital modernist CIOs can step out of the conventional IT box or linear management discipline, work closely with the business and partners, ride emerging change trends, leverage the latest digital technologies to fuel innovation. Technology is complex, but digital technology is also intuitive, hide its complexity from customers, it’s the piece of art created by practicing scientific engineering disciplines. Talented IT professionals are empowered to apply their creative thinking for discovering new ways of doing things that allow for innovation to happen.

Running IT as a software startup as IT entrepreneurialism becomes a new fixture for innovating IT: Running IT as the software startup is simply about taking bold initiatives to reinvent IT by cultivating the new attitude and fusing the fresh energy. The CIO as the digital modernist is about envisioning the emerging technology trends, explain the big why” behind business initiatives, articulate the strategic rationale behind the venture, as well as discover the new path for digital transformation and ensure IT is perceived as the differentiated business advantage. Running IT as a software startup is for creating the new revenue stream, exploring emerging business opportunities, substantiating their competitive position, affecting the market landscape, and driving business growth. Practicing intrapreneurship also means enterprise IT should go smarter and flexible, with the culture of risk awareness and tolerance. Digital CIOs need to be better rounded than to have a title of “logical” or “creative.” They need to be good at both, with commercial skills, dynamism, focus, persuasion in order to get their ideas approved and funded, as well as implement them to achieve high business results.

Digital transformation represents a break with the past, with a high level of impact and complexity. The CIO is no longer just a glorified geek, but a business savvy strategist and a digital modernist to advocate innovation and drive changes relentlessly. The balance of art and science in IT is how to enforce scientific discipline, but also make continuous efforts in building better products/services to accelerate IT performance, unlock IT potential, and achieve high-level of organizational maturity.


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