Friday, October 19, 2018

Overcome Barriers to Break Through the IT Digitalization Plateau

Given the value that information is playing in the innovation and growth of organizations today, CIOs need to be fully aware of the promises and perils of IT management.

Information is pervasive, permeating into everywhere in contemporary businesses, the emerging digital technologies make continuous digital disruptions, and the speed of change is increasing significantly nowadays. However, many organizations still get stuck in the old IT thinking which cannot move fast enough in the digital era. There are still many roadblocks and hidden barriers along the way of digitalization, how to overcome them and break through the IT digitalization plateau?

Lack of comprehensive IT strategic planning: Organizations rely more and more on technologies; the IT department has more and more to overcome in becoming the strategic business partner. IT strategic planning is a cohesive component and a necessary process that parallels or follows a business strategic planning process. At the same time, it must be crafted in such a way that it matches or enhances the maturity level of the organization. It must also be compelling so that it does not simply sit on the shelf after it is developed. Taking a wide look around at what's going on outside the IT organization at the business scope, as well as outside the entire business, at the business ecosystem scope; and how it might affect the organization through an environmental scan, identify opportunities and threats. The IT strategic plan needs to be a community effort, not something the IT team does alone in a corner. You need to talk to the business people, find out what their key initiatives are, and discuss how IT can facilitate, enable or support their initiatives. Talk about shared goals, and shared risks. Discuss timelines and milestones. It’s also important to take a hard look at what's going on inside the organization, including its strengths and weaknesses (perhaps doing a SWOT analysis), establish the mid and long-term goals. CIOs should always stay focusing on the big picture of the business, leverage and prioritize, ensure that the IT is on the right track to achieve well-defined goals, without getting lost or burning out in continuous IT overload

The IT-business misalignment:  IT - business alignment ensures that IT can keep the fundamental right. IT- business alignment is also about “keeping an eye on the horizon.” Alignment is fundamental and multidimensional. Look for and assess IT manageability, determine viability and alignment with the organization's strategic direction. IT-business misalignment enlarges the business gap. It is a persistent and pervasive problem that demands an ongoing process/capability alignment to ensure that IT and business strategies adapt effectively and efficiently together. One of the key ways that a CIO can become a business leader (and not just a technology leader) is to become connected at the hip with the business. All IT spending must be rationalized against the business benefits, to make sure that the money being spent on IT is aligned with the long-term goals of the company. More specifically, the business strategy alignment evolves integration, collaboration, and harmony, etc, take each of those strategic “WHATs,” and figure out the “HOW” that will implement and execute the strategy cohesively and effectively. Back this up with descriptions of the projects, portfolio cost, benefit and outline approach, technology, aggregate risk, dependencies, and organizational structure changes. Those organizations that have a more mature strategic alignment outperform their competitors and tend to be more responsive to the business dynamic.

Dysfunctional IT organizational structure with unclear roles and responsibilities: IT can no longer be run as an isolated function, it must become an integral part of the business. Digital leaders tend to restructure if they sense things are becoming dysfunctional, and often with mixed results. Before you could create a new IT structure, you have to make sure it’s not just in alignment with the organizational "culture," but also helps to cultivate the culture of innovation in the entire company. The digital organizational structure design should delayer the unnecessary business hierarchy to enable digital flow and inspire “digital holism.”The digital organization of the future is designed openly for anyone with ideas on how human organizations ought to be contrived in the face of challenges, break down silos, and overcome complacency. To take advantage of the latest technologies, many organizations today adopt the hybrid organizational structure that creatively blends structured and unstructured processes to harness innovation efforts rather than overcoming organizational hurdles and pushing against structural boundaries. The digital organization is an integral business ecosystem with fluid structure and hyper-connected nature. They need to be organized in running with quantum speed, emphasize communication, participation, relationships, and realize that they will need to renew themselves periodically to cope effectively with changes and have a fluid structure that responds effectively to the business dynamic.

IT creativity and other skill gaps:
IT skill gap is reality. There are disconnects between IT short-term staff needs and long-term strategic competency perspectives. There is a high rate of employee disengagement either in IT or the entire business. Due to the changing nature of technology and exponentially increasing information, the velocity of IT is more frequent than some other areas of the organization. IT is no longer just a support center or help desk. IT organization needs the talented specialized generalists to connect the dots, have an in-depth understanding of business, and do more with innovation; IT also needs dedicated specialists to keep the light on and focus on technical excellence. Running modern IT is not equal to IT modernization, it goes a step further, doing more with innovation and solving problems creatively. There are skill gaps existing in modern IT organization, It’s important to identify the skill gaps and define the technical/functional competencies required to achieve business goals. Thus, from the top down, IT diversity and inclusiveness help to close the cognitive gaps and enforce the strengths of the problem-solving capabilities people bring to the team. IT has the potential to become the creative business problem solver, because the original gem of a creative idea is often, if not always arrives at through the interaction of ideas from different domains of thoughts and experiences.

Ineffective IT metrics and measurement: In many cases, the non-IT players at the big table do not know what IT is capable of providing. Thus, they still perceive IT as the cost center. The only way to change the perception is to show a clear link to top executives between IT performance and productivity/ top-line revenues. IT value to the business can be categorized in a number of ways, such as: Improving Speed (Speed to Market, ability to change etc.), Improving Revenue (enable the business to gain market share). Customer Acquisition/Retention (optimize end customer experience) Lowering Risk (reduces business system downtime, create business continuity) Lowering Cost (reduces the cost of the current business process, improve margins, freeing up capital for new ventures, etc.) Identify metrics and KPIs that will be shared across teams, and talk about funding and resource commitments. IT metrics do need to be transparent and based on strong data governance and process excellence programs, so they are accurate and consistent, in order to have a chance of being believed and trusted. Besides the internal IT metrics to “keep the lights on,” the more important set of metrics are those used to inform the business of IT value and performance. These should all be presented in business terms such that they are directly aligned with operational factors a business executive would find important to be familiar with and tracking.

Given the value that information is playing in the innovation and growth of organizations today, CIOs need to be fully aware of the promises and perils of IT management. IT has to expand its impact in every dimension to improve the company’s operational excellence, business responsiveness, flexibility, digital fluency, and resilience.


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