Sunday, January 27, 2019

CIO as “Chief Innovation Officer”: How to Unleash IT potential in the Digital Era?

The CIO is an inherently cross-functional leadership role to ride emergent trends, bridge digital chasms, grasp opportunities and help the business achieve the “art of possible.”

Nowadays, information is permeating into every corner of the organization, and digital technologies bring unprecedented convenience to both our lives and businesses. Modern IT is not equal to IT modernization, it is the key differentiator of the business to “reimagine what is possible.” To keep IT relevant, CIOs need to think and act like “Chief Innovation Officer”: Running IT as the business in the business to reach its full potential.

Tapping the entrepreneur's spirit in IT: Information & Technology is the means to end. The end is about solving business problems and improving business effectiveness and efficiency. An entrepreneur's mindset is important for digital CIOs to run IT as a business, contribute to the top line business growth, manage both opportunities and risks accordingly, and ensure IT is strategically positioned to be ahead of where the business is moving next. Tapping the entrepreneur’s spirit in IT also means enterprise IT should go smarter and flexible, creating the working environment for inspiring creativity, learning, and experimenting better ways to do things. IT needs to be strategically positioned to be ahead of where the business is moving next. The intrapreneur IT leaders often have bolder visions, they are able to articulate the strategic rationale behind the venture, break down silos or outdated rules or processes, when necessary, advocate changes, and accelerate business speed. The optimistic perspective is that the emergent digital technologies just make innovation easier to implement than in the past, and the information is the most time intensive piece of innovation. It is a great time for running IT as the innovation engine of the business for reaping the business benefit for the long term.

Tapping the new business models by leveraging IT: In today’s digital dynamic and technical environments where Information and Technology are being used significantly around the globe for revenue-generating initiatives. The business model is neither equal to strategy nor technology only. It is a description of the way in which an enterprise intends to leverage the emerging technologies or uprising trends to win customers and make profits. A well-defined business model lists all of the sources of value, cost, risks, constraints, as well as contains a “magic formula” to interconnecting all those important factors for ensuring it is practical or implementable. In essence, tapping the new business models means to explore the alternative way to grow the business. The digital revolution means that channels to customers, IT has both internal and external customers. IT needs to spend the larger portion of its budgets, resources, or human capital on spotting business growth opportunities, looking for solutions which will directly benefit external customers, improve internal users’ productivity and creativity; as well as improve the competitive advantage of the business, and in turn brings in increased revenue. It means that business model reinvention needs to be based on core organizational competencies either through providing value-added business solutions to tailor customers’ need or exploring what new customers need even before they know themselves.

Tapping the collective human potential: People are neither just cost nor resource only, they are the most important assets and capitals to run a successful organization for the long run. Tapping the collective human potential is to ensure future performance and keep the business growing and innovating. Metaphorically, human potential is like spring water, the deeper you dig, the more it flows out, explores new ideas, new processes, or new adventures to adapt to change. Does "human potential" begin and end with one individual? Or does it encompass collective potential? From a business management perspective, it is only when all individuals challenge themselves and then, come together as a group, will we see collective human potential achieved, so the business potential can transform into the future performance. All ambitious businesses strive to unlock their business creativity and unleash their full digital potential. Unleashing potential is truly about sharpening the ability to change for the better. In fact, high potential needs to be grown into high competency which underpins strategy implementation. In essence, performance keeps the business moving, and the potential makes the business grow and mature.

IT shouldn’t act as a controller only, limit the business’s creativity. To keep it relevant, IT has to shift its reputation from a cost center to an innovation engine and profit center. The CIO is an inherently cross-functional leadership role to ride emergent trends, bridge digital chasms, grasp opportunities and help the business achieve the “art of possible.”


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