Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Three Practices to Fortify IT Transformation

IT needs to reenergizing itself and fortify digital transformation by contributing to business growth, innovation, or customer experience optimization. 

Due to rapid change, fierce competition, and continuous disruptions often led by technologies, IT can no longer feel like it has a monopoly on delivering solutions to the business. With vendors now offering cost-effective on-demand model IT services or solutions that business can utilize directly with almost no IT support, IT should feel competitive pressure to reinvent itself as a business differentiator. In practice though, there is the gap between the aspirations of what IT could do to the business versus what the current IT “mentality” and capacity within the respective IT department is capable of providing and enabling. What are the best or next practices to fortify IT transformation?

Fortifying the ownership mentality: Traditional IT organizations are often overloaded and understaffed, take orders from internal users, and fix issues to keep the lights on reactively. They are perceived as a support desk and cost center. There are too many excuses on why work and stress loads are at their current levels. To improve IT performance and maturity, it’s important to fortify the ownership mentality and run IT as a business. IT leaders need to work closely with business management to co-develop the organizational strategy and develop a collaborative environment in which IT is fully engaged with the business to prioritize and solve real problems, rather than just reluctantly align with the business to fix symptoms. People at all levels need to fully understand the issue and decide to remedy it. Unfortunately, in reality, the stove-pipe functional silos and bureaucratic management style are still prevalent and all too often fighting for who owns what versus who should and run it best. The key here is to run IT with a software startup mentality and gradually institutionalize and communicate digital transformation with the business, keep information and ideas flow frictionlessly throughout the organization. When IT leaders are equipped with the ownership mentality, they can have better self-awareness, get a holistic understanding of the business, gain the courage to step out of the comfort zone, work across the boundaries, have the right dose of risk appetite, and manage risks in a structural way.

Fortify IT-driven change/innovation agenda: The CIO role has never been just about managing the status quo. They need to be able to recognize the struggles of the company by understanding the business beyond IT, fortify IT-driven change and innovation agenda, to ensure their organization is ready for change, space and time are made to scope, plan, and execute, but not through ad-hoc activities. The most valuable change is innovation. The digital shift in some industries is to be innovative with systems of engagement because innovation often happens at the intersection of people and technology; customers and businesses. The lightweight technology and mosaic style of service model just make innovation easier to do now than in the past, less costly and more accessible. The new technology tools and business models allow a company to capture customer information on a continual basis. Building a customer-centric business is in every forward-thinking organization’s top executive agenda. IT needs to be closer to the end customers and do more with innovation. It is important to have IT resources, assets, and talent aligned with business strategies and objectives to build innovation as the core competency of the company.

Fortify IT performance to achieve multidimensional business value: Bottom-line thinking is one of the great limitations of modern IT organizations. Many IT organizations which often get stuck at the lower level of organizational maturity tend to measure themselves against trivial things IT considers important but are often less important and impactful through the business lens. The true IT value is hard to derive from support services since measuring productivity can be elusive and difficult to quantify. To refine IT reputation, "measuring up" is intriguing but it is crucial for IT to be perceived as a strategic business partner. IT leaders have to be able to demonstrate in very tangible ways that IT understands the business, fortify IT performance, and develop a systematic measurement approach to assessing its multi-dimensional value beyond just monetary benefit. It is true that the majority of IT organizations still cannot articulate their economic value to the board or shareholders in a language they understand and performance metrics alone will not solve the problem. IT leaders need to be not only good at creating value, measure them right, but also know how to convey them persuasively and lead to recognition of the efforts by the executive peers, and thus, the perception of the value of IT, to enforce IT as the trustful business partner.

IT needs to reenergizing itself and fortify digital transformation by contributing to business growth, innovation, or customer experience optimization. Nowadays, organizations across vertical sectors are highly technologically evolved and think they are in the business of information management. Thus, keeping up with digital/technology developments around them become key drivers for accelerating performance and leading digital transformation.


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