Friday, January 18, 2019

Running IT as "Digital Simplifier"

Due to the complex nature of technology and overwhelming information, running simplified IT is not so simple, it takes the right strategy, methodology, process, and practice.

IT continues to grow in importance to organizations, both operationally and as a competitive advantage. The business complexity has increased exponentially due to “VUCA” characteristics. By nature, technology is complex, and the information is overloading. However, the purpose and advancement of IT are not to complicate things, on the opposite, “Keep it Simple” is one of the most important principles to run digital IT. Because logically, simplifying the complicated thing is an optimal and smart choice, to make the business progress either for designing products, solving problems, or managing a high mature digital organization. Simplicity is the optimal level of complexity. Running IT as digital simplifier means or is related to too many things such as manageability, availability, scalability, flexibility, reliability, robustness, comprehensiveness, and responsiveness, etc.

To become a digital simplifier, IT has to look at itself, improve its own efficiency, robustness, and effectiveness first: Every intelligence has complexity behind it, technology is complex, IT is perhaps one of the most sophisticated puzzle pieces in modern company. From the IT management perspective, there are at least two ways to look at complexity. The first is to try to analyze what the impact of complexity is on a system (such as process, customers, business); the second is to look for the impact of removing some of the complication or unnecessary complexity by simplification or optimization. Simplicity is a behavioral attitude to see things as and what and where they are and be content and cool as it is. IT has to look at itself first, simplify the way it does things, and take a structural approach to consolidate, modernize, integrate, automate, and optimize for improve its functional performance, competencies, and maturity. The approach is to implement a program that like a gardener would prune the tree and nurture the valuable business solutions and optimize cost. Running IT as a digital simplifier means IT should keep optimizing its ability and deliver value-added business solutions with speed.

IT needs to amplify the best practices for simplifying business into the enterprise scope: Simplicity perhaps means different things via varying angles. Simplicity means intuitive design from developers’ lens; simplicity means the "easy to use" feature from customers’ perspective; simplicity also means less layer and business fluidity from organizational structure perspective. Simplicity should become the rule for communication from the business management perspective. Simplicity is the building blocks. There is a relationship between simplicity and clarity. Simplicity is the design of looking for what is common for maximum reuse, it’s also about improving business transparency for achieving the visibility of cost structure and asset management. The IT management needs to figure out the “just right” level of simplicity by having the minimum required complexity, as to support flexibility without hurting the support/maintenance costs. “Less is more” needs to become the digital principle for running digital IT. An organization achieves the state of digital equilibrium through simplifying and optimizing its management layers, resilient processes, and elastic capacities.

Ultimately, IT needs to make things as simple as possible, and simplicity should rule the day: Technically, the complexity of aggregate layers of every internal system is a burden that often causes conflict. CIOs need to manage that complexity regardless of who builds it. The science of IT management is to simplify unnecessary complexity, manage the full cycle of application management, retire legacy systems; reassess any systems that sucks too much resource cost, and energy, or it requires too much IT effort; tighten coordination with vendors and partners, in order to improve organizational responsiveness, efficiency and maturity. Running a simplified IT is not easy because IT leaders face so many tough choices. For example, from a procurement perspective: when should you build products or services in-house? When should you buy applications or systems? From products/services delivery perspective: Better, faster, cheaper, can you have them all, and how to leverage varying factors for running IT as "digital simplifier"? From a customer satisfaction perspective: Shall you just take the order from customers, or can you figure out even better solutions which really delight them and exceed their expectation. Simplicity rules the day because simplicity brings speed, clarity, innovation, flexibility, and productivity.

“Keep it Simple” is one of the most important management principles and philosophies to run a digital IT, Running a simplified IT means to keep IT digital fit with fluidity and performance. But due to the complex nature of technology and overwhelming information, running simplified IT is not so simple, it takes the right strategy, methodology, process, and practice.


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