Monday, February 4, 2019

The Digital CIO as “Choice Generator”

Digital is the age of choice, it provides the opportunity to think the new way to do things, it forces IT leaders to get really creative on how they orchestrate and implement changes. 

The unprecedented digital convenience brought by powerful technologies changes the way we think, live, and work. Embracing digital is inevitable as that is now part of the business venture. The digital era upon us is the era of options, empathy, personalization, and sharing. IT is the linchpin to run a high-performance digital organization. Today’s digital CIOs need to become the “Choice Generator,” envision the emerging technological trends, refine information to capture business foresight and customer insight, imagine the new possibilities and alternative ways to do things, and drive the digital transformation proactively.

Provide choices for businesses about communication content, the method they want, and use their language: IT historically has had poor communication accountability within IT or between business and IT. To reinvent IT as a trustful strategic business partner, CIOs must be able to relay technical ideas in a non-technical manner to business leaders, use the common business language to bridge the gap between business talks and IT talks, make sure IT meets the business environment, and transform IT reputation from a controller to an enabler. To improve communication effectiveness, tell the business what they want to know, not just what IT wants to tell. Provide choices about communication channels and styles. Generally speaking, the strategic communication initiated by top digital leaders are not the top-down one-way street, it should be contextual, creative, cascade, and tailor the varying business audience, in order to close cognitive gaps and deepen understanding. Change adaptation would be must faster if made with the full involvement of people by leveraging effective communication frameworks, efficient communication platforms, channels, tools, and feedback mechanism. To be an effective IT leader, you need to display the hard technical skills and knowledge, but more importantly, you need to be welcomed and invited to the table, be able to share what audiences want to listen and translate business needs into actionable states.

Provide choices for users and customers on how to solve their issues from their lens: Customers are at the center of a digital organization, being customer-centric is the ultimate goal for any forward-looking business today. Business users and consumers are selective nowadays due to the unprecedented convenience brought by digital technologies. The more customer contact points an organization has, the more difficult it is to meet and hopefully deliver on customers' expectations. Thus, it’s important to provide choices for them on how to solve their issues by listening to their feedback. The customer including prospects should be studied, observed, and get involved in innovation processes. Gain a deep understanding of them through empathy and observation by taking a more inductive approach as to what the customer wants to accomplish "next." Engaging customers by providing simplified and intuitive products or services on an ongoing basis to see how their goals are achieved is a good way to orchestrate a people-centric organization. The digital IT trajectory is shifting from being an inside-out service provider to become an outside-in revenue creator and choice generator for delighting customers and driving business growth. Running digital IT is about balancing customer needs and company needs so that both the business and customers come out the winner.

Provide choices for talented employees on how they would like to get the work done, stop micromanagement and foster autonomy: Many traditional organizations still practice command and control management discipline to get the works done in the overly rigid hierarchical organization. The management's job is to control the work by commanding the people. People perform based on fear, not on self-actualization. However, the digital age upon us is about people-centricity, option, and innovation. Digital leaders should encourage and facilitate empowerment of their teams and develop the digital workforce to achieve the higher than expected business results. They need to overcome the tendency of micromanagement, clarify the “why” and “what” part of the business goals, but encourage the individual or the team to figure out “how” on their own. Give everyone a voice on how the organization and the people in it can prosper and thrive. Understand and recognize that everyone plays a "piece of the pie," and enforce accountability. The true value of an employee is demonstrated when the employee acts as an ambassador, change agent, innovator or customer champion of the organization; brings the advanced mindset, proficient knowledge, unique competency, and creativity that translate into expected performance outcomes.

Digital is the age of choice, it provides the opportunity to think the new way to do things, it forces IT leaders to get really creative on how they orchestrate and implement changes. Be experimental to try new things, be adventurous to explore the “art of possibility,” and be cautious of potential risks. The vital goal of running IT as the "choice generator" is to ensure IT is strategically positioned to be ahead of where the business is moving next, delight customers, engage employees, and improve the IT organizational maturity as the trustful business partner.


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