Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Running IT as “Digital Explorer”

The progressive role of IT today for many organizations is an information steward, a business solutionary, an innovation hub, and a digital transformer.

IT has expanded its impact in every organizational dimension to improve the company’s operational excellence, business responsiveness, performance, flexibility, and Innovation. IT leaders sense the urgency to spend a significant portion of resources and time on strategic business initiatives and put diligent efforts on innovation management. It is in some synthesized sense that IT can knit all important business elements into differentiative business competency; IT can integrate different business functions to ensure that the company as a whole is superior to the sum of pieces. Visionary IT leaders are running IT as “digital explorer” to pursue the “art of possibilities.” Classic information technology strategy as an integrated component of the business strategy can be divided into the following three areas:

Information and technology as product, service, or artifact: Besides providing standardized IT services, IT can lead to the design of products and services that actually create a return. The ultimate success of IT should be evaluated on how IT is able to deliver innovative products or services or reinvent business models that are profitable to your business while being exciting to customers. To explore the digital new normal, it’s necessary to rethink the fundamental way to run IT - from “aligning IT with the business,” to “integrating IT into the business," and "aligning IT with customers.“ Ask users, customers, and different stakeholders what their expectations are of IT and whether or not IT meets those expectations. Exploring the potential of IT won’t happen with “old thinking”; old thinking just leads to a burden of support for regular operations whereas the true potential is about getting involved in building great products, services or business models by relying less on silo functions and more on cross-functional collaboration. It’s also not about reinventing the wheel; sometimes when one business area has a new product or service that can be used by another, IT leaders can connect the dots promptly to come up with innovative solutions timely.

Information & technology as a business process or method: The business needs for IT are rooted in the business processes and where the IT services and systems touch these processes. The amount of waste tied up in business processes these days is astounding. It’s important to leverage IT to optimize the business system that streamlines business processes and improve organizational maturity. Businesses are looking for IT to come up with innovative processes or methodologies to deal with complexity, improve quality, investigate innovative business solutions, or optimize business capabilities, etc. Because the robust systems and tools that enable the business to generate a winning concept on the consistent base is the prerequisite for sustainable business advantage and growth. IT is able to bring out technology-enabled methodologies, processes or solutions, driving adoption of applications, and become the spinal cord for running a digital business. In practice, running IT as a “digital explorer” is not always exciting or flashing. There are many difficult “grunt” work need to be done. IT organizations have to map IT services or systems to related business processes, IT also needs to keep consolidation, integration, modernization, and optimization to improve process efficiency and business competency.

Information & technology as knowledge: IT is the custodian of data assets of the company, data can be refined to information and knowledge which can be applied in new and different ways to generate massive business value that far exceeds what other functions can incrementally bring to the table. Thus, information & technology is knowledge; and knowledge is power. Philosophically, data is physical, and the information is ‘mental.’ Leading organizations are digging into the gold mine of information to explore business opportunities as organizations need IT to provide better information for achieving improved profitability. IT enables the business to access, consume and generate the necessary information to perform a range of business tasks. IT provides a nervous system to the business by managing data-information-knowledge-insight cycle smoothly. If intelligence built is poor or not managed effectively, it perhaps leads to wrong decision-making and poor performance results. There is a sense in which information from or about the business or the world is incorporated into the very DNA over time by the processes of evolution.

IT needs to be a digital explorer for unlocking business performance and maximizing business potential. IT is an integrator to blend different elements of the organization to unique business competencies. Aristotle asserted when it is rational, the whole of all those that participate is greater than the sum of its parts. That is to say, something surplus becomes added in reasoning through issues together, which makes a whole more effective than the sum of all its pieces. IT needs to be value-added, the progressive role of IT today for many organizations is an information steward, a business solutionary, innovation hub, and a digital transformer.


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