Monday, February 11, 2019

The Breaking Point of CIO Role: Are you a “Fixer, Builder or Orchestrator” CIO?

The digital CIO has to look forward and actively position IT in the right place, climb ahead of learning curves, take full advantage of opportunities and orchestrate the digital transformation proactively.

The digital transformation has multifaceted perspectives unfold into wider multi-dimensionally enhancing systemic continuum with IT as the linchpin. In order to be an effective digital CIO, IT leaders must understand every aspect of the business and master different conversations with varying shareholders, business peers or customers. Unfortunately, many businesses still perceive their CIO as the tactical IT manager who doesn’ have a seat at the big table. Is CIO role at the breaking point to keep IT relevant? CIOs: Are you a “Fixer, Builder or Orchestrator” CIO?

Fixer: Many IT organizations still spend the majority of their resource and time on keeping the lights on and fixing things broken, take orders from internal users, overloaded and under-delivery. Fair to say, running IT with operational excellence is still fundamental. If there is a day-to-day operation break or fix type of issue in relation to a business-critical technology, working on a strategic initiative perhaps needs to take a back seat until that is resolved. Because for the customer at that point in time, an outage of a server that supports all sales or call-centers reporting would need to be addressed immediately. The point is how to make sure systems run according to plans, schedules, and performance standards, improve IT effectiveness, efficiency, and the overall organizational maturity, from a reactive fixer to a proactive change agent. From a long-term standpoint and for the direction of the company and line of business, the strategic initiative is a higher priority, fixing broken things only is simply not sufficient to run a digital IT organization. In reality, many CIOs who were graduated from IT management where their job was to maintain, might have the mediocre mindset to run transactional IT for “keeping the lights on” only and be a controller to avoid risks. The transition from a maintenance mindset to a value creation mindset is a stretch for them. The challenges for digital CIOs are about how to balance day-to-day operations with sufficient resources for strategic initiatives and ensure IT is well-positioned as the strategic partner of the business.

Builder: With rapid changes and emerging technologies and IT service models, modern digital CIOs face many dilemmas such as when they should buy and when they need to build? Today, truly building from scratch is not practical for most IT organizations as no one wants to redesign the wheel, even the vendors themselves rarely build their commercial solutions from total scratch. Further, timing matters in order for the company to run at the digital speed today. But, when your main focus is on the business applications which can create a unique advantage, it is better to build. Thus, CIOs need to make an objective assessment in order to make effective decisions about “buy vs. purchase” by asking tough questions: Is it your core competency? Is it something will increase revenue or significantly reduce cost or give competitive advantages? Will these products/services create a competitive advantage for your organization? Do you want your system to scale as required? Can you afford to maintain it on your own? What's your budget? What's the perceived value of the business? Are you confident it will generate more revenue? If not, can you rent it till you're sure? Etc. Digital IT needs to make a transition from a cost center to a revenue generator with a shortened delivery cycle. Whether IT should be a “builder” or not depends on a combination of strategy, required functionalities, affordability, and timing.

Orchestrator: In the past, IT has categorized, prioritized, and designed solutions, bug fixes, enhancements; now with digital participation and permeation style, you need to work with other business leaders to make the decisions together. Get engaged in the investment process prior to the decision already being made, and keep IT running flawlessly at the prevailing level of sophistication. IT has to become an integral part of the business. Digital IT is making a shift from business-IT alignment to business-IT integration. A CIO is expected to integrate IT as part of the business, align IT goals with business strategies, and hence, to ensure IT provides business solutions and become the trustful business partner. Instead of fixing or building only, the company is expecting IT to figure out better ways to perform IT products or services delivery cycle, whether they are doing hardware or software. Modern CIOs should become the orchestrator to conduct a digital symphony. Today’s IT professionals should understand that there are only business initiatives, it's important to "keep the end in mind" for either achieving business value or delighting customers. Digital CIOs need to facilitate a global IT team which are often distributed across the varying geographical locations in many large multinational organizations, to make sure IT is more shared, integrated, flexible, reliable, transparent and fast, in order to build the true partnership with the business and orchestrate a dynamic business ecosystem.

With the increasing speed of changes and continuous digital disruptions, regardless of which company or industry you work in, being a stereotypical tactical IT manager for “fixing broken things only,” or “rebuilding the wheel,” is simply not sufficient to lead IT transformation today. DRIVING is not a passive activity. The digital CIO has to look forward and actively position IT in the right place, climb ahead of learning curves, take full advantage of opportunities and orchestrate the digital transformation proactively.


Post a Comment