Monday, September 2, 2019

The Signature Themes of Digital IT Organization

IT needs to be unique, innovative, and influential, develop and discover its significant theme by leveraging unique IT knowledge and strength.

With information technology permeates into every corner of the organization, IT can no longer just hide in the corner to be a cost center and play background music only, IT needs to be the core of most parts of the business today and must, therefore, be visible and present all the time. To keep IT relevant, CIOs are expected to constantly propose new ideas and challenge the status quo. Every IT organization needs to tailor their own circumstances, make an objective SWOT assessment, build its own strength and demonstrate their signature themes.

Topple monolithic systems and structures to improve adaptability: Traditional IT organization was run with monolithic technologies, focused on heavy weighted hardware to keep the lights on, and was perceived as a back office support function. With emerging lightweight digital technology and on-demand IT service/application delivery model, it’s important that business leaders including CIOs showing objectivity and humility to realize that some of their systems and processes are out of date, they need to keep consolidating, modernizing, and optimizing for adapting to changes and unlocking business performance. The signature theme of digital IT is “I” driven - focus on information, insight, intelligence, innovation, and influence. Still, IT is the means to an end, not the end itself. Every IT initiative is a business change either for empowering employees or delighting customers, and improving productivity, flexibility or performance. IT not only should keep optimizing its own functions and structure to stay fit, but also help to fine tune underlying the overall business functions and design for getting digital ready.

Converge device and service to drive disruptive growth: The exponential growth of information and the emerging technology with a high degree of digital convenience are imposing faces of digital disruptions, recharging business models, and lift the business up to the next stage of the business development cycle. Traditional IT thinking with “controlling” or “order-taking” mentality simply cannot move fast enough in the digital era. The digital convergence of devices and services are developing new business models and exploring alternative revenue sources as companies across vertical sectors are being forced to become information technology savvy company. Highly effective IT leaders nowadays are able to articulate the business impacts and opportunities of emergent digital technology trends to the C-suite, knock down the barriers separating insulated IT team and the revenue generation business teams, design and deliver innovative products/services or new business models, and demonstrate the signature theme of IT as the revenue growth engine.

Rebel with a mediocre culture to inspire change and innovation: Many traditional IT organizations getting stuck at the lower level of organizational maturity often have a reactive attitude and mediocre culture, take orders from customers and run IT from inside-out, operational lens only. The worst mediocrity is not “the mediocre result,” but a complacent mind and mediocre attitude, or unprofessionalism. Culture is invisible, but the most powerful elements to lead organization or society's long-term prosperity.  It is a culture that supports collaboration, harnesses changes and fosters innovation. To demonstrate digital theme, CIOs need to become far, far more business driven and innovation focused. Highly effective digital cultures don't reflect their members, their members reflect them, especially the top leadership sets the cultural tone of their company.

Seize the moment to make continuous performance: To run a high performance IT organization, IT leaders need to be both further thinking and laser focusing on what they are doing now to achieve the strategic goals, encourage learning-sharing-doing as the iterative continuum and seize the moment to make continuous deliveries. CIOs must ensure that application development does not proceed without a "clear business rationale," and deliver value to the organization in a consistent and continuous way. The real-time business insight refined from information also allows the company to “seize the moment,” grasp growth opportunities and prevent risks timely. The performance and innovation provided by IT applications development helps to build unique business competencies to accomplish defined business goals and develop the signature theme of IT as a trustful business partner. The “I” driven IT can play an even bigger role in re-framing business planning processes along with re-framing of in-place processes that filter and fund investment and make continuous improvement more than discover an elegant solutions.

Integrate all important components to orchestrate digital transformation: Digital transformation represents a break with the past, with a high level of impact and complexity. It takes greater transparency, trust, and collaboration. To get digital ready, IT needs to shift from a transactional mode to a transformational mode. The goal of IT transformation is to engage employees, enlighten customers, and run a highly innovative and high mature digital organization. Transformation needs to set strategic guidelines, but not overly restricted roles. A clearly defined roadmap is available, and the industry best/next practices are in place to serve as a framework upon which the solution can be implemented over time. With all necessary platforms and tools, a highly influential CIO can run IT as a linchpin to integrate all important business components and instrument a seamless digital transformation.

IT needs to be unique, innovative, and influential, develop and discover its significant theme by leveraging unique IT knowledge and strength. As a matter of fact, the differentiation provided by fast growing information and innovative technologies are usually more long-lived than differentiation provided by marketing actions that can be copied easily. IT is the business inside the business.

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