Thursday, November 14, 2019

The Digital CIO’s Most Critical IT Emphasis

Digital IT is a business conductor in knitting all important business factors for enforcing the strategic focus and harnessing the unique business competency.

With the overwhelming growth of information and rapid change, IT touches both hard business processes and soft human behavior. Keeping IT dynamic is crucial for adapting to unforeseen urgent changes in the business or other fields. IT maturity directly impacts the overall business competency and maturity.

Modern CIOs need to thrive for becoming the digital shaper, envision and participate to co-create the future proactively, put the most critical IT emphasis on building strategic competencies, take continuous initiatives to unlock business performance and delight customers.

Critical thinking practices: Organizations rely more and more on technology, and IT needs will only expand. The CIO’s ability to build fundamental business competency is now greater than ever. A good CIO would keep everyone involved and foster an environment of critical thinking, be able to recognize areas of deficiencies and inefficiencies, and then ask the question 'How can we...?" of the IT team.

The success story of IT is perhaps similar, but each failure has a different root cause, and perils of running digital include such as silo thinking, analysis paralysis, legacy technologies, miscommunication between IT and business, legacy technologies, lack of in-depth understanding of business capabilities and resources, or not leveraging the collective brainpower of strategic vendor partnerships, etc. Digital CIOs need to deal with constant uncertainty and ambiguity, they naturally gravitate to a leadership role when things are unknown, things will change, technology is involved, a tough problem has to be solved, etc.

Thus, digital CIOs as strategic leaders need to practice critical thinking skillfully if they are equally strong in both realms of leadership and management, and build a strong team that offer different perspectives. The purpose of critical thinking is given in the quality of collective thoughts upon business vision and strategy, and how effectively business leaders can make decisions to move the business forward and upward with digital speed. At the organizational scope, the business as a whole has to adopt digital management practices with overarching critical thinking skills to stay ahead of the change curve. Talented people must continually seek to question, inform, and act to improve business transparency and accountability with consequences.

Running IT as the critical link in digital transformation: Many IT organizations are still at the crossroad, should they continue to be run as a cost center to keep the lights only or should they take the bold steps, move up to the next level of organizational maturity? The missing link in holistic IT management can further cause change inertia, stifle innovation and idea flow, and make businesses missing opportunities to innovate and accelerate.

To transform IT from inside-out operation driven to outside-in customer oriented, IT needs to permeate into the business functions and ecosystem, invite customers and partners to provide feedback for making continuous improvement, reconnect the missing link, and create the synergy to run a digital-ready organization.

Digital IT is a business conductor in knitting all important business factors for enforcing the strategic focus and harnessing the unique business competency. When IT considers their customers as the entity who buys the company's goods and services, some great things start to happen. Running digital IT requires thinking beyond, altering or changing the frame of reference to create previously unconsidered solutions to customers, make a shift from transactional IT to innovative IT, and run IT as the critical link in digital transformation.

Building critical IT competencies: IT is no longer just a commodity service provider or a support desk to keep the lights on. Digital CIOs have to define a set of IT competencies to tailor the organizational needs, map to the business strategy management, and rebrand IT as a revenue maker. 

In fact, IT emphasis for any organization (value innovation, operational excellence, architectural flexibility, etc.) changes over time and varies by organizational unit, and the most critical IT capabilities are not the same across an enterprise. CIOs need to be part of the executives for articulating differentiated IT-enabled business competencies to underpin strategy execution. 

The most critical IT emphasis needs to get back to its roots - the big "I" as Information, Intelligence, Innovation, Integration, and Improvement, in order to build critical IT competency. IT is the value-added delivery that makes the organization different and competitive. The high mature digital IT needs to understand stakeholders’ high expectations and propose a balanced service/solution portfolio that corresponds to both demand and cost drivers with a focus on business priority and building unique business competency.

A digital organization can bring greater awareness of business ecosystem intricacies and the systemic perspective of organizational structure, business process, people dynamics, resource alignment, or technological touches. To stay competitive, companies must go beyond just experimenting with some digital technologies,it's import to strengthen the weakest link, put the most critical IT emphasis on building unique competencies, and commit to transforming themselves into a fully digital business powerhouse.


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