Friday, December 14, 2018

Reinventing IT by Developing a Digital Framework for all Structural Components

IT becomes the decisive success factor for the business’s long-term perspective.

At today’s information-driven business dynamic, IT continues to grow in importance to organizations, both operationally and as a competitive advantage. However, many traditional IT organizations are still perceived as the cost center and support desk. To break the mold, IT needs to rethink itself as an innovative and business leading organization. From an IT management perspective, an effective CIO’s job is to leverage systems view for an understanding of the variety of business relationship, organizational functions, and processes. IT is the linchpin of running a digital organization. The multidisciplinary IT management includes many important components such as strategic and tactical planning, Systems Engineering, concurrent engineering, design, quality engineering, portfolio management and optimization, systems ecology, etc. IT is a mixed bag of science and art disciplines, how to reinvent IT by developing a digital framework for all structural components and manage them systematically?

Reinforce IT as a strategic, scientific, and systems engineering organization: Modern IT is an engineering discipline, as always, but adding more enriched digital context to the paradigm shift. Information systems are business oriented, integrate hardware, software and many other pieces of IT components to help business users accomplish the organizational goals and objectives. IT systems are not just glorified computer programs, it is actually the backbone of the business and provides invaluable information for either decision-making or problem-solving. Besides “keeping the lights on,” and improving efficiency, IT needs to become strategic focused and increase the top-line business profitability for the company. Fundamentally, IT is a scientific and system engineering organization. Science = "What" & "How." What defines science from chance is the ability to repeat a process with the same resultant solution every time, through the application of known facts. The main reason for IT becoming irrelevant in the hyperconnected digital era is that up to the point in time most leaders have been silo managers and don’t really have business skills or leadership traits to lead change or digital transformation. To reinforce IT as a strategic business partner, the focus of IT needs to engage with the business units to find out how the department is perceived, what the pain points are and to identify opportunities for developing new services or improving/optimizing current ones.

Improve quality + productivity across the organization for climbing up IT maturity: Quality is to ensure that the organization’s systems are reliable and run when needed and when the users expect them to run, meet the needs of the business, don't waste time or have critical defects. a lack of productivity with technology. When IT operation is refined to the point that it can adapt to changing business demands in a timely fashion; it can be adjusted to meet the business priority, and be effective with the little down curve, IT is on the right track to achieve high business value. Quality management should be focused not only on products and services quality but also the means to achieve it, it often has the indication of innovation. IT leaders should make the quality check by making an objective assessment of IT effectiveness, efficiency, scalability, flexibility, resilience, etc, or the overall digital fitness and maturity of IT organization. From IT management perspective, quality, productivity and employee engagement are all interconnected. Employee engagement is important to drive competitive business advantage. Engagement is about employees "willing to give discretionary effort, wants to stay, and is always looking for ways to improve individual and team performance, increase productivity and achieve high-quality business results. There is ever a greater ability to create engagement around very specific goals, such as employee retention, talent acquisition, benefits administration, wellness, or multi-generational workforce facilitation.

Execute new business initiatives with well-balanced portfolio management: IT will not "be the business" if it does not focus on the top prioritized business initiatives. IT initiatives are unlike others as they are always enterprise-wide. When it comes to collect the business requirements, IT needs to take the traceability path of where the requirements come from, and IT requirements need to be functionally structured to serve each functionality the enterprise needs. To improve its maturity, IT organizations need to be assertive in preparing and engaging effectively and efficiently with their business partners in strategic initiatives. It’s important to set the right priorities, don’t just deliver what the business asks for, but be able to provide the ”best solution” for the business, offer added value and feature insights based on system understanding and scientific management discipline. Each level of business transformation management - portfolio, program and project management should focus on different business objectives but works cohesively to deliver business value with effectiveness and efficiency.

Align IT and business and integrate processes across the organization seamlessly: Digital IT plays a crucial role in optimizing business operation management capacity with a keen eye to grasp growth opportunities, manage risks, and improve operational efficiency. To make the IT-business link strong is to enable the IT team and make them think through the business world while working on the solutions. This is a small step but a much-needed move! IT should be more integration focused rather than re-inventing the wheel with most custom development that takes place, to break through IT systems bottlenecks. IT needs to integrate varying applications and enable workflows between them. The ultimate business goal for IT integration is to maximize the value from existing IT systems and the need for better business performance and responsiveness. Be cautious about pitfalls here. Integration can be very difficult, costly and hard to justify the ROI. Each "integration" effort can spin off into a chain reaction that may not be recognized until the budget is gone. Therefore, it has to be done with a “big picture” - the business architecture in mind that supports business strategy and objectives such as revenue growth, margin improvement, and customer satisfaction.

The business risk/exception management: We live in an era of information abundance but insight scarcity, full of uncertainty, velocity, complexity, and ambiguity. The result is the higher risk of conflict and inertia, not something the organization wants in a dynamic business environment that demands innovation, speed, responsiveness, and flexibility to succeed. In the IT organizations running at an industrial speed, traditional CIOs have tried to reduce technology and IT risk as much as possible, with a risk avoidance mentality, it may also lose some opportunity to grow the business. Technically, most of today’s risk and risk management is reserved for huge and costly endeavors. The problem with this is that poor decision-making that lack of risk awareness creates more blind spots uncovered and gaps unfilled. At the age of digitalization, opportunities and risks are coexisting, the CIO needs to make an objective evaluation of the IT organization's effectiveness and take a periodic risk assessment. When they shift from a 'risk-avoidance' to a 'risk management' & risk intelligence mentality, they weight risk, and reward, take prudent risks and find ways to mitigate risk rather than eliminate it. With “VUCA” digital new normal, risk management should be a key component of decision-making. A digital mind with risk intelligence can naturally and skillfully apply risk-based thinking for almost every discipline of IT management, including people management, financial management, asset management, reputation management, customer relationship management, organizational structure design, product or service development and so on.

IT becomes the decisive success factor for the business’s long-term perspective. IT can be a "pioneering" division to walk the talk and lead the change within the organization for harnessing communication and collaboration. To truly reach the premium IT management, CIOs have to reach out horizontally to their business peers, be able to reinvent IT by developing a digital framework for mixing all structural components to business competency for improving IT performance, innovation, and maturity systematically.


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