Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Running IT as Innovation Integrator

CIOs play the bridge role of combining the art and science of digital innovation and running IT as an innovation integrator. 

 With the overwhelming growth of data and increasing pace of changes, often, information is the most time intensive piece of innovation, and technology is the disruptive force behind changes. The essence of innovation is made of trying new combinations of known things and shape a problem-solving process of deduction to derive a better solution drawing from knowledge, information & technology, experience, and out-of-the-box creativity. Digital innovation has an expanded spectrum and a broader perspective. It's important to develop IT as an innovation integrator that provides sustained competitive business advantage in the long run.

IT helps to integrate and glue up the innovation framework which enables the business to manage innovation in a structural way: Innovation is the most wanted change. The broader the scope, scale, and impact of the change, the more one leans towards calling such change an innovation. Innovation follows basic rules, which are adapted depending on the company's situation and ambition. Digital innovation has a broader spectrum and diverse taste. IT is the super glue to integrate people, processes, and technologies into unique innovation competency, scale up innovation practices, amplify innovation effect, set up the collaboration platform and glue up the innovation framework which enables the business to manage innovation in a structural way. The ultimate success of IT should be evaluated on how IT is able to deliver innovative products and services or helps to reinvent the business model and solve problems creatively. The appropriately configured IT-enabled innovation platform creates the scalable means for sharing and building ideas throughout the enterprise, catalyze “soft innovations’ such as communication innovation and cultural innovation to improve innovation management success rate. With IT as an innovation integrator, innovation becomes a persistent and shared reality even across business silos and geographies.

IT is the glue to integrate policies, programs, and structures which are three managerial tools for managing an innovation portfolio seamlessly:IT is the only entity in the organization supposed to understand business entirely, be able to connect the wider dots for sparking creativity; and function as the glue or linchpin to integrate important business elements into innovation competency. IT plays an active role in designing, developing and building innovative products or service as well as creating a disciplined and managed space for developing and testing new models and business approaches. By leveraging powerful digital platforms and technologies, organizations can be more effective in executing innovative ideas by relying less on silo functions, more on cross-functional collaboration. IT is more like glue than a tool for blending all important business elements into the innovation competency and integrating policies, programs, and structures for managing a balanced innovation portfolio, with the mixed bag of incremental innovation and breakthrough innovation, hard innovation, and soft innovation. Digital IT leaders need to be really creative on how they architect, integrate, and implement innovations, strike the right balance of innovation and standardization, and manage innovation in a systematic way.

Integrate both in the house and “out of the box” (across industries or across geographical locations) innovation practices into the special “formula” of digital innovation: Organizations nowadays are at a crossroads where the segregation or silo of business units are at a need to reach across the aisles and respectively work with each other, learn from each other, and co-develop innovation, to achieve high-performance business result. Digital technology enables companies to leverage their various environments, or ecosystems, to chase innovation and accelerate performance. Instead of being rigidly grouped around a specific function or business, ecosystems draw together mutually supportive companies from multiple industries that collectively seek to discover fresh ideas and create the differentiated value they could not reach alone. Digital leaders today should look to businesses outside their industry to spur “out-of-the-box thinking,” and inspire dot-connecting innovation capability. IT can achieve innovation excellence if it is regarded as being an innovation integrator and the champion of examples and lessons learned from other industries, treat customers, channel partners, suppliers, and industry ecosystem participants as active digital agents to create new experiences and brainstorm fresh ideas. High-mature digital businesses and emerging markets offer particularly fertile ground for exploring innovation opportunities and developing cross-industrial ecosystems.

CIOs play the bridge role of combining the art and science of digital innovation and running IT as an innovation integrator. By empowering IT and leveraging digital platforms and technologies, businesses become highly effective in generating and executing innovative ideas, relying less on silo functions, and more on cross-functional collaboration and innovation competency, manage innovation in a systematic way and improve the success rate of innovation.


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