Wednesday, May 29, 2019

"Continual improvement" as the Mantra to Run Digital IT

Effective IT leaders are excellent at articulating the benefits of making business improvement and how IT can make these changes happen. 

Digital transformation is an arduous journey with the long jump and it takes time and commitment to reach a higher level of digital maturity. IT plays a crucial role in the digital paradigm shift because IT can drive and orchestrate transformative changes by integrating to and knowledgeable of the business as well as weaving all important business factors into differentiated organizational competency. Making continuous improvement is the way how IT should improve itself, the business, the interrelation between IT and business, in order to get digital ready.

Highly effective IT has never just been “keeping the lights on,” it’s about ensuring IT as a platform to enable business growth: The CIO is required to think about business first, technology second. Technology is one of the powerful tools to help move the business in the direction of meeting its strategic objectives. With technological advances happen at a rapid pace, IT in the high mature organizations progressively see themselves as an integral enabler of business advances and even a game changer, translate the promise of technology to a strategic and competitive advantage for the company's long term prosperity. Therefore, business foresight and careful thought are required to truly understand the implications of emerging technology trends and identify the opportunities for defining a successful business rationale in order to make wise IT investment toward getting a higher ROI. In these high mature digital organizations, there are no walls between IT and business, they are tightly integrated. Running IT as the business in the business. IT application development shouldn’t be strictly a service that follows the order only; IT must partner with the business to listen to their feedback, understand their true need, and deliver the best solution to truly solve their issues. That is the progressive move from being a reactive order taker to a proactive solution provider.

There is never "enough" to optimize business operations, increase revenue, make profits and improve customer satisfaction: Every organization needs to drive continual improvement in order to meet their objectives and stay competitive. The breadth and depth of IT management improvement include technology update, process optimization, and competency development. Leverage holistic thinking to make sure that the business as a whole is superior to the sum of pieces. The optimization of technology shouldn’t be the be-all and end-all at the expense of the health of the overall organization. There is a never-ending IT management improvement cycle of advancing systems, streamlining processes, expanding IT products or services, and making continuous deliveries. IT needs to strike the right balance of improving operational excellence by reducing the waste, trimming the cost and trying to stay current with ever-changing technologies. Last but not least, continuous improvement goes hand-in-hand with one of the digital principles: "To learn constantly so we continually improve." Develop a culture of continuous improvement, encourage IT staff to get out of the comfort zone, figure out alternative ways to do things, enforce communication and foster innovation.


IT measurement system and incentive should help to assess the tangible result of continuous improvement and serve the ultimate business goals: It includes a broad range of monitoring, performance measurement, performance reporting, or functional failover schemes, etc. Dysfunction and inefficiencies do not develop overnight, they creep in slowly. They are easier to uncover if there is a good measurement system is in place to improve the system. IT leaders must keep in mind which KPIs best measure IT ability to deliver business value. It’s dangerous to impose metrics just because the focus on what’s measurable is manageable. IT metrics have to evolve from being a cost center to becoming a revenue generator by showing a clear link to top executives between IT efficiency and productivity/top-line revenues. Performance Indicators for IT need to be defined in keeping the view of the corporate objectives and put into a mix of other performance measures. Select the right set of indicators of Improvement, Innovation, and Investment, and measure them effectively. Make sure IT and business are always on the same page by providing a broad range of monitoring, performance measurement and reporting in order to make continuous improvement.

IT is in the middle of a sea change, "Continual improvement" is the IT mantra in the digital era. Effective IT leaders are excellent at articulating the benefits of making business improvement and how IT can make these changes happen. IT continues to reach a higher level of maturity by continuous optimizing “people and process” and keep consolidating, integrating, engaging, and innovating.

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