Saturday, November 17, 2018

Shaping an Effective IT Digitalization Agenda

IT leaders should build a comprehensive agenda with a few crucial highlights to drive digital transformation with focus.

IT becomes so critically, many times, it is a determining success factor for building long-term business competencies. However, many traditional IT organizations are still perceived as a cost center and get stuck at a lower level of business maturity. At the dawn of the digital transformation, IT faces unprecedented opportunity to refine its reputation, also needs to take more responsibility as a true business partner. Information Technology should be seen by any business as a “digital game changer.” But from here to there is not some spontaneous activities, IT leaders need to clarify the following mysteries for shaping an effective IT digitalization agenda, set the right priority to run a high-performance digital organization.

Do you have an objective assessment of IT maturity? Can you frame the top priority issues accurately? The ultimate goals of IT digitalization are to improve IT performance, unlock its potential and amplify digital effect in every dimension of the business. IT assessment is a great way to help identify what is right and wrong in your environment and how you can keep optimizing processes, improving management disciplines, and leveraging limited resource and time to do things really matter. IT assessment needs to include techniques such as pure health check techniques, customers feedback, business partner relationship analysis, cost estimation which includes operational cost, financials, IT vendor cost, people cost, or calculation of cost to fix varying problems such as structural quality, redundant processes or technology update, as well as those key elements which can be applied to give a holistic picture of what is working or not. To shape an effective IT digitalization agenda, the CIO has to make a priority choice based on ROI and risks. It is important to have IT resources, assets, and talent aligned with business strategies and objectives. It is also critical to have IT resources refined to the point to make sure that IT is nimble and adaptable to changing business demands in a timely fashion and it can be reapplied to altering business priorities. Setting priority to leverage limited resources and talent to maximizing business value is an important step in unlocking business performance and climbing organizational maturity.

Are you channeling the business flow - information flow, idea flow, communication flow, and thus, organizational flow? We are moving from a considerably static industrial age with information scarcity to the digital age with knowledge abundance. To adapt to the increasing pace of changes, it is important to create a dynamic business environment that enables information and knowledge flow. Organizations, like individuals, need to be in flow to operate smoothly and adapt to change effortlessly. CIOs need to have information technology insight and foresight upon potential opportunities to retool business, re-imagine growth possibilities and lead digitalization effectively. A CIO must also have the ability to see the ideas of others and transform them into action. Though every executive should make their voice heard and have an opportunity and responsibility to participate in the digital dialog and to come up with innovative ideas, most of the business functions can make process innovation within their division. IT, on the other hand, has much more of an opportunity to enable incremental top-line and bottom-line value across the business, not just within IT, but cross-organizational scope. Thus, IT leaders play a critical role in channeling business flow, fine-tune underlying organizational structures and business processes to streamline communication flow, knowledge flow, idea flow, and therefore, business flow and achieve a digital premium.

Can you accumulate IT capital and build IT-enabled business competency? There are both tangible and intangible business capitals need to be managed well. Human Capital -including all the talent, competencies, and experience of employees and managers. Information Capital - including all data which can be refined into business knowledge and insight. Structural Capital - including knowledge, processes, software and intellectual property. Relationship Capital -including all key external relationships that drive business growth, with customers, suppliers, partners, outsourcing and financing partners, to name a few. Etc. IT leaders are able to accumulate varying IT capitals and build IT-enabled business competency. With advancements in information and technology, CIOs and IT staff should take a leadership role in identifying, assessing, designing, coordinating, implementing, and revising opportunities for transforming the business to get digital ready. The digital CIO as a C-Level role is able to catch technology trends, apply IT capital and resources to develop strategic competencies of the business and drive the capability-based digitalization.

Are you crafting sustainable change and leading digital transformation steadfastly? Change is the new normal. However, change is not for its own sake, every change needs to have a noble business purpose, and IT as a change agent needs to well engage business conversations. The change management system needs to be the alerts you put in place that act as tuning force to enable you viewing things and harmonizing what's going on. Change cannot be just another thing that needs to be accomplished. It has to be woven into communication, process, and action of the organization. Alignment with organizational design, enterprise architecture, and program office functions is ultimately where you need to be to really make a difference. The CIO is at a unique position in change and business transformation, they need to handle it cautiously but firmly. It should be driven by business needs and goals rather than IT requirement, and then, it is easier to get peer collaboration and enhance IT reputation as a change agent. To make change sustainable, it’s time to make the shift from process-driven to people-centric change management, and solve change inertia or digital stagnation from the mindset level. Because change cannot be completely manipulated from top-down, it starts with the mindset and encourages positive behaviors. Change Management is about mentoring the human side of the business through a profound and unsettling change

Can IT create multidimensional business value and convey them persuasively? The business value itself is a multi-dimensional concept, such as seamless customer experiences, optimal business products, service, or commercial value proposition, a social value system which deals with and provides context for varying interest and need. IT contribution to business value does not come from the technology itself, but from the change that IT both shapes and enables. More broadly speaking, IT is about distributing and sharing intelligence on the scale and enabling the business to achieve their visions and goals. IT needs to first understand what the business is, what their pain points are, identify areas for improvement and then those that can be improved with IT. IT needs to develop a systematic measure approach to assessing its multi-dimensional value beyond just monetary benefit. IT leaders are not only good at creating value but also know how to convey them persuasively and lead to recognition of the efforts by the executive peers, and thus the perception of the value of IT, to enforce IT as the trustful business partner. They will receive greater esteem within the business and in the relevant industry & ecosystem.

IT leaders should build a comprehensive agenda with a few crucial highlights to drive digital transformation with focus. With continuous disruptions often driven by technologies, IT leaders need to have the strategic mindset and skillset for contributing to business problem defining and solving. Now it is a great opportunity for CIOs to practice innovative leadership and demonstrate the execution of responsibility by leveraging unique IT knowledge and capability to foster innovation and build business competency.


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