Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Running High Mature Digital IT with Three Mind Shift

To keep relevant, IT should help the company achieve its business objectives in any way possible. IT has to learn the business; be the business and become the business.

IT is in the middle of a sea change as businesses move into the digital future, information is permeating everywhere and technology is the fastest growing arena. It’s the undoubtedly dynamic time, with “always-on” businesses and high expectation of customers due to IT consumerization trends and continuous digital disruptions. CIOs must make three mind shift in order to run a high mature digital IT organization.

From silo mentality to holistic thinking: Traditional IT organizations are often operated as an isolated support function that is not perceived by the business as a cost center. The old school of silo thinking is the very obstacle to running a highly collaborative IT organization. Too often IT sees "business professionals" wanting to go back to the segmented organization and defines technology as something outside of the business as a separate entity. The real cause is that the business executives lack a comprehensive understanding of IT potential and still limit their vision of "IT supports a strategy." Silo enforces the wall between organizational functions, stifles information flow, and makes those business divisions which are supposed to work collaboratively for solving common business problems, compete for the limited resources and budget to chase the functional performance and short-term gain. To run a strategic IT organization as the trustful business partner, it’s important for IT leaders to apply holistic thinking, break down silos and enforce cross-functional collaboration. It requires seamless IT-business integration through a serious amount of positive communication and dedicated collaboration. It’s also critical to lay the foundation for service-oriented and non-siloed teams closely aligned with the business strategies and models to achieve high-performance business results.

From the “maintaining” mindset to growth mind: Traditional IT spends most of their resource and talent, “keeping the lights on” only. However, the pace of changes in IT and fierce competitions would force more CIOs into transformation-oriented roles, creating business value is what is expected from CIOs. The transition from a maintenance mindset to a value creation mindset is a stretch for some, but a necessary first step to run high mature digital organization. Generally speaking, IT organizational maturity is proportional to the maturity of the entire company. CIOs need to make an objective assessment of organizational maturity by asking: Is the company willing to take the risk that involves the adoption of new technologies? Does new technology contribute to the business objectives? Is the new technology aligned with the IT strategic plan? Is IT treated as a cost center or a strategic partner to the business? Etc. If IT is considered just an executor and a follower of business leads and their decisions, IT is still a support center. IT organization needs to manage information and apply technology to pour more on the top line. IT leaders with a growth mindset can run a strategic IT organization by shrinking the gap between IT and business and cutting out waste to ensure IT can make a significant contribution to the business’s top line growth.

From reactive to proactive mentality: Many IT organizations still get stuck at a lower level of maturity, reacting to the customers’ requests or acting as the controller only. Usually, the IT status/maturity within an enterprise determines the focus and priorities of most CIOs. To run IT as a strategic business partner, the role of the CIO is to drive the corporate vision and strategy through effectiveness and innovation in the knowledge and information channels. Driving is not a passive activity. IT needs to set priority right and proactively solve business problems. The common element of proactive IT is business engagement - whatever & wherever the business needs are. These engagements are leading IT to be much more proactive in proposing, as opposed to responding to ideas for new ways to improve IT products or services or actually create new customer value and revenue. The CIO has to look forward and proactively position the business in the right place to take full advantage of opportunities and recharge business via innovation. IT also needs to proactively work as an integral part of the business to capitalize on an opportunity or delivers the best solutions to critical problems which meet business’s requirement or tailor customer’s needs. IT is the business inside the business.

IT matters not only because it’s pervasive but also because it continues to advance and its nature of the "constructive disruption.” To keep relevant, IT should help the company achieve its business objectives in any way possible. IT has to learn the business; be the business and become the business. In the end, it is not about technology, but what information technology can do when it is enabling and integrating with change management and business processes to deliver strategic differentiation and improve the overall business maturity.


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