Wednesday, January 8, 2020

The Digital IT Leader as Gap Minder

 Gap-minding digital CIOs are like the diplomat of the company, able to communicate, persuade, and influence effectively via business terms, simplistic fashion, and unique insight. 

Nowadays, businesses are steadily moving into the digital era with characteristics of hyper-connectivity and interdependence. Information Technology is the linchpin to build differentiated business competency. The focus of IT leaders upon business transformation is not about changing the title, but keep updating their mindset, skillset, and toolset, identify and bridge the multitude of gaps, set up the standard, to improve IT organizational maturity and amplify IT leadership impact.

Communication gaps across silos:
IT historically has had poor communication accountability within IT or across business functions which further enlarges the gap between IT and business. To dig deeper, communication gaps are often caused by cognitive differences, silo mentality, lack of trust, ambiguous processes or management bottlenecks, out of dated procedures or practices, internal politics, or bureaucracy, etc. To improve IT maturity, one of the biggest challenges for IT leaders would be their ability to communicate the importance of delivering to business expectations vs. requirements effectively and bridge management gaps seamlessly.

Methodologically, it’s important to leverage both virtual communication channels and face-to-face conversations in order to improve communication effects. Digital CIOs should become visionaries and outliers who have the interdisciplinary knowledge and up level communication skills to inspire, persuade, and amplify their leadership voice, master all styles of conversations by targeting a different audience to develop situational wisdom and influential competency.

Business & IT gap: Many think the gap between business and IT has actually widened due to the increasing speed of changes, that business and IT have evolved at a different pace over the past few decades. While IT has evolved significantly in all aspects - people, process, and technology, in many companies, the business has and continues to evolve faster. The traditional IT management practices are often just not fit enough for speeding up and tuning the business capability to respond to the opportunities and risks due to the multiple gaps existing.

To bridge business - IT gaps, digital CIOs need to share their technological vision and help C-level leaders understand the potential of the business and the possibilities of how abundant information and new technologies can enhance the creation or improvement of products and services by linking all digital aspects together to enforce value creation while balancing the technical and business risks, as well as the budget and resource investment. In fact, IT business synchronization is one of the most important aspects to achieve digital harmonization.

Innovation strategy implementation gap: Even if you have many innovative ideas, it doesn’t guarantee innovation success due to the possible implementation gap. The gaps exist because the strategic planning or ideation team and implementation team have a different focal point, priorities, and performance evaluation criteria. As innovation is a key element of business strategy, and innovation execution is an integral part of strategy execution if it involves any change whatsoever, is implicitly executing innovation; large or small, breakthroughs, radical or incremental.

IT needs to be telling businesses about the opportunities and possibilities and that means IT needs to really understand the goals of the business and synchronize with business goals. Building the right bridge between IT and business for closing the gap is about doing the basics right to synchronize business and IT.

Innovation strategy-execution synchronization can lead to the smooth alignment process of ensuring all organization action is directed to achieving common strategic goals and objectives. Thus, to close the gap, cross-functional communication and collaboration are important, it’s also crucial to take a systematic approach by leveraging effective tools such as a balanced scorecard, and set measurement to gauge the right things and gain holistic perspectives on improving management maturity.

The role of digital CIO is to identify and blend the ways that information and technology can assist and shape an ultra-modern business. There are still many leadership gaps need to be closed, the gap-minding digital CIOs are like the diplomat of the company, able to communicate, persuade, and influence effectively via business terms, simplistic fashion, and unique insight, to spark a win-win situation, avoid “lost in translation” syndrome, and become "Chief Influence Officer" in their organization.


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