Wednesday, January 2, 2019

The New Year Contemplation: Is IT Organization an “Afterthought or Forethought” in your Company

Digital IT needs to be foresightful, innovative, adaptive and visible.

The digital ecosystem is complex and volatile, the information potential directly impacts the business's potential of the organization. However, many IT organizations still get stuck at the lower level of maturity, they are only comfortable as a support function, run as a reactive order taker, perceived as a cost center. New Year is perhaps a great time for IT leaders to make an objective assessment: Is your organization an afterthought or the foresight in your company? How to run IT as the change agent of the business?

Which symptoms might indicate that IT is still an afterthought in the company: In many traditional organizations which were stuck at the lower level of maturity, IT is just a service provider, their strategy execution falls apart because it's too late for a strong technical solution to be implemented in time. When this happens, it all falls down and it’s a bad IT system that caused it. That indicates IT is perhaps the afterthought of the strategy management in the company. That also means those CIOs still don’t have the seat at the big table to provide invaluable feedback at the strategic level. IT often becomes the afterthought if the business management can’t communicate clearly about the business problems need to be solved. Part of the “illiteracy” of management, is exactly what drives their own frustrations with IT but an “unwillingness” to acknowledge it. IT might develop a different solution than the other departments had in mind. When miscommunication happens, sometimes, it becomes all IT fault for delivering the wrong solution, even if it was what was requested. That enlarges the IT and business gaps and decelerate business speed. IT is an afterthought perhaps also because other business executives may not feel they are part of it. Some IT organizations still operate in the dark with puzzles about value, cost, risks or constraints. IT needs to improve its transparency and build the trustful business relationship. From IT leadership perspective, CIOs need to speak business languages, lead through influence, not by brute forces with “command & control” style. Information and insight are just two of the big reasons they should be invited to the big table for sharing the vision and making effective communication.

What are the positive signs to indicate that IT is the forethought of the business and on the right track to reach a higher level of business maturity: Information-based forecasting is crucial to bring both insight and foresight of the business. Information flow can further streamline idea flow, impact the velocity of capital flow, and thus, the business flow through the economic system. When IT can manage one of the most invaluable assets of the business - information well, to ensure some important bits and bytes of information help the business forecast a new market, emerging technology trends, or business growth opportunities, they are in demand. Effective Information Management can provide businesses the ability to apply real-time insights of the organization in ways never possible before. Through managing information well, IT allows business departments, stakeholders, and executives clearly see what is happening in the business, they are on the right track to becoming the forethought of the business. With these insights, organizations acquire the ability to reshape products, services, improve customer satisfaction and employee engagement, enter a new market, explore a new channel or optimize day to day operations (which have an output value) etc. From IT leadership perspective, CIOs need to rise above the status quo, gain leadership visibility and take on a new set of activities that have them involved in the strategy development process from the get-go and improve the overall organizational maturity.

Forward-thinking organizations declare they are in the information management business to improve organizational competency and long-term business growth. IT shouldn’t be the afterthought of the business because technology is often the disruptive force behind digital innovation and information helps to forecast the emergent business trend and customers’ need. Digital IT needs to be foresightful, innovative, adaptive and visible.


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