Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Five Characteristics of IT Maturity

IT touches both hard business processes and soft human behavior. IT maturity directly impacts the overall business competency and maturity.

With rapid changes, exponential growth of information and often technology led disruptions, the role of IT in the current business environment should  enable business outcomes, catalyze enterprise growth, and build organizational competency. Many companies are reaching the inflection point of digital transformation. IT plays a critical role in the digital paradigm shift. Here are five characteristics of IT maturity.

Adaptability: Digital organizations are highly adaptive living systems. Adaptability is to be understood as the ability of systems or people adapt themselves to changed circumstances fast and smoothly. IT adaptability directly impacts the business competency for either responding to rapid changes or expanding market share timely. IT needs to provide guidance, direction, support, and assistance in the adoption and application of information technology solutions in support of strategic business goals and objectives with speed. More and more businesses expect the consumerization style responsiveness from IT, foresightful IT leaders understand what emergent digital technology trends can add business value and transfer that to the business advantage. Adaptation is faster if made with full involvement of people in organizational flow to harness change and innovation. IT needs to ensure its strategy allowing for digital speed and it’s fast enough to discover the root cause of problems, also quickly find solutions in case of emerging circumstances.

Multidimensional value proposition: IT value is multifaceted (economical value, quality value, utility value, social value). The value of IT is in the eye of the beholders - customers. IT value can be categorized in a number of ways such as revenue improvement (enable the top line business growth), agility (speed to market, ability to change), productivity increases, and the rate of customer satisfaction gains, etc. In fact, there are both tangible (cost saving, revenue gains, productivity increase) and intangible value (brand equity, sales enablement) components of IT value proposition. IT plays a critical role in driving changes and leading digital transformation. IT value-based management needs to be driven by concepts like collaborative value or collective advantage and multi-layer ROIs. It’s important to triangulate IT value from different angles in order to become a strategic business partner and change agent of the company,

Elasticity: Organizations are taking advantage of emerging digital technologies and abundant information for shaping highly adaptable and scalable digital organization. They build elasticity (scale up/down more seamlessly) by developing Lego-like module design architectures and capabilities with internal processes being broken into modular service components that have a standard open interface. Loose coupling makes it possible to change the components without affecting the system, as long as the interface is kept stable. The challenge for business management is to understand where and how you can improve to scale up for getting the biggest effect and improving business competency. Technically, scaling and performing the appropriate transformation could be vendor specific as you have to take into account the technology provided. It’s also important to develop a series of best/next practices to scale up and amplify its effects with the goal to improve IT elasticity and organizational competency.

Flexibility: Flexibility is about taking an alternative way to solve problems or making multi-dimensional choices to delight customers, etc. With unprecedented digital convenience brought by technologies, the “reach and range” flexibility that now exists removes barriers that have existed in the past. The pervasive digitization requires both business and technology professionals to rethink how things are done in organizations. With rapid changes and continuous disruptions, IT organization demonstrates flexibility by taking a different approach for solving emerging problems and meeting the business’s expectations. They also take initiatives to break down silos and overly rigid processes, encourage cross-functional collaboration, and enforce business changes. Great IT leaders advocate the culture of flexibility; they are comfortable with ambiguity and respectful of processes, without being slaves to them, have risk tolerance for encouraging different ways of getting work done and inspire creativity.

Resilience: The fast growth of information and disruptive nature of technology bring both abundant opportunities and unprecedented risks to businesses today. Resilience is the ability to respond to changes proactively, act courageously when facing challenges, bounce back or fail forward. We live in an era of information abundance and continuous disruptions. Strategic risks are about uncertainties, inherent variability and the unknown interdependencies among sources of risks that could have an effect on the delivery of strategic objectives. The business managers should weigh risk and reward, take prudent risks and find ways to mitigate risk rather than eliminate it. Digital resilience depends on how to manage the gray effectively at today’s VUCA –Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous business environment. The risk management mechanism needs to be well embedded into both soft business factors such as corporate culture or communication and hard organizational elements such as processes or functions so that high mature business can elevate the management discipline from risk mitigation to risk intelligence.

IT touches both hard business processes and soft human behavior. IT maturity directly impacts the overall business competency and maturity. Business savvy CIOs can take an outside-in lens, articulate the business benefit realized through IT investment, truly build a high mature IT organizations with all these important characteristics and run IT as a strategic business partner, to help their organizations"playing to win" not just trying not to lose, and gain long term business advantages.


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