Sunday, November 18, 2018

Three Questions to Assess IT Maturity

To improve IT maturity, the forward-looking IT leaders must be able to develop and optimize the IT function within itself and scale the best practice to the company scope. 

Organizations today are over-complex and hyper-competitive, the management continues to keep their business running, but lack of insight on how well the organization is doing for the long term. IT is the business inside the business. As businesses embark on the “Digital Era” of computing and managing by taking logical but iterative steps for reaching the next stage of business maturity, IT assessment is a great way to help identify what is right and wrong in your environment and how you can make continuous improvement, to improve overall IT manageability, performance, adaptability, flexibility, and maturity.

How technically-oriented the business is in general: We live in an information & technology world and every day more and more technology affects the way we live, think, and work. Nowadays IT is like the backbone of the business. many forward-looking organizations declare they are in the information management business. With IT as the linchpin, modern digital organizations are not just the sum of functional pieces, but an integral whole to maximize its performance. IT maturity is proportional to overall business maturity. Business initiatives today nearly always involve some form of technology implementation or information refinement. A company must leverage IT and encompass all of the relevant disciplines in place and actively monitor emerging business opportunities in order to recognize and act on them in a time frame that will yield strategic advantages. In practice, how technically-oriented the business is depends on how seamlessly IT can be integrated to the business and how collaboratively IT and business can work together to ensure the business as a whole for maximizing its performance and unleashing the full digital potential. Running an IT savvy business is not just about playing some cool technology gadgets, it needs to expand digitally in every dimension of the business, to optimize underlying functions and processes, streamline information flow, and connect business to the ecosystem for involving customers and business partners in the digital dialogs to co-solving problems and co-creating knowledge. IT has to continue working together with businesses to find out what they need and develop tailored business solutions side by side to advance the company toward the next level of maturity.

Does the company ever appreciate the benefits of IT? What's the business perception of their IT organization? Is IT a competitive necessity or the differentiated advantage of the business? Many think the new way of running the business is the management through Information Technological lens. However, in reality, there are still a lot of IT organizations being perceived as a cost center and back office function. Businesses do not show enough appreciation of the benefit gained from IT either because they don’t have a clear understanding of their IT organization or they haven't provided IT leaders opportunities to lead change proactively. When there is a discrepancy between IT perception of itself and the user perception of IT, the top management must work closely to understand the situation from the different perspectives and make an objective assessment of IT maturity. The idea that the IT organization is overlooked as a digital driver and is being bypassed by business units comes at an odd time when you consider the robust new technology prospects and pervasive information influence. IT leaders must have a deep understanding of the business model and how organizations make the profit as well. In the end, it is not about technology, but what technology can do when it is enabling and integrating with change management and business processes to deliver strategic differentiation, inspire and facilitate innovation across the technology and business interface. IT is in demand. But to gain respect and appreciation from the business, IT management must keep evolving, communicating, and adapting.

What’s the role of CIO, and does IT leader have a seat at the big table? Traditional CIOs are often perceived as the tactical manager, controller, or order taker. But digital CIOs need to become the strategic business advisor, change agent, or even the “constructive disruptor.” The board and top leadership team should help to define the CIO role as the same as the other CXO roles have been defined. The digital CIO should sit on the executive board as the “digital transformer” because it is critical that the CIO can contribute to strategy making, and IT department effectively enables, facilitates the business strategy and objectives, and ultimately orchestrates the digital transformation. Ideally, the CIO should be a serious partner in the inner circle to creating value-added strategies and enabling deeper insights into the opportunities IT can do. CIOs need to not only get their voice heard but also figure out how to communicate persuasively and build a trustful relationship with the business. IT leaders must keep in mind which performance indicators best measure IT ability to deliver business value and initiate data-driven communication effectively. IT performance metrics need to evolve to something that matters to the varying business audience, at the same time that “business sentiment” needs to get put into something more tangible.

Great opportunity, danger, and disruption are around every corner. Business needs to be the advocate of IT-driven change or business transformation. The journey of improving business maturity is more evolutionary than revolutionary. Organizations rely more and more on technology; the IT department has more and more to overcome. Making an objective assessment is always a critical step to run a high performance IT organization. To catalyze business, IT has to recharge itself. It is certainly critical to put the stronger emphasis on empowering people, the source of knowledge, innovations/adaptations and customer centricity. It is necessary for the coherent use of various already known concepts and interdisciplinary knowledge. To improve IT maturity, the forward-looking IT leaders must be able to develop and optimize the IT function within itself and scale the best practice to the company scope, and ultimately improve the business maturity of the entire company.


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