Monday, May 11, 2020

Contemporary CIOs Think as “Chief Enterprise Architect”

Not everyone is an architect, but everyone can learn how to think like an architect.

The breadth and depth of IT management include people management (talented people with skills and capabilities), process management (workflow, process effectiveness & efficiency), organizational architecture design, IT portfolio management, and performance management.

IT works both in the business and on the business. A strong IT can lift up the maturity of the entire company. Forward-looking businesses always empower their IT organization to build up a set of unique competencies. Contemporary CIOs think as “Chief Enterprise Architect,” and the first skill an "architect" must-have is "abstraction" - being able to step back from details and see patterns, generalization, standards, context, and a bigger picture, reimagine IT structure design and reinvent IT to get digital ready.

CIOs as the Chief Architect must consider the whole, and their purpose is to achieve the goals for the thing being architected: Traditional CIOs are operation driven and inside out, digital CIOs need to understand the business side, IT side, as well as interrelationships between business and IT. It’s particularly important for IT leaders to think as the “Enterprise Architect,” desire to listen to the different viewpoints, and integrate them into a holistic perspective for bridging IT-business gaps, improving business processes, and optimizing organizational capabilities.

Contemporary CIOs are Enterprise Architect, trustful advisor, and polyglot who can speak business language, IT terminology, pattern language, and other computing languages, and leverage business architecture as a communication tool to provide expert advice and recommendations to the rest of the executive leadership and practice multidisciplinary IT management. To deepen IT leadership influence, making a tough balance to have business acumen, and be fluent in technology understanding at the same time. CIOs have to build a level of trust with the executive team in order to understand the strategic goal of the business and make the honest justification for a recommendation to adopt new digital technologies and come up with tailored business solutions.

CIOs as the chief IT architect must know the relevant aspects of engineering: Information Technology is mainly an engineering discipline which is a mix of art and science. Running a high performance IT organization is about how to apply scientific logic and engineering discipline to solve business problems and present value to the business at regular intervals. IT engineering practices and disciplines require scientific approaches and structural problem-solving capabilities. Thinking like an architect is critical for IT leaders to know all relevant aspects of and engineering, and apply IT architecture as a practical tool to make sure all of the business elements necessary for an outcome are present.

Many IT leaders have strong technical backgrounds, it is challenging and takes more time and a radical conceptual shift for transforming an engineer into an architect, from thinking analytically to thinking systematically and holistically; going from a specific viewpoint to a general/abstraction viewpoint. Engineering is both art and science. The scientific side of an IT organization enables the business to take a logical path for implementing ideas and figuring out business solutions to either existing or emerging issues and problems. Engineering is also a piece of art because it involves designing thinking, personalized observation, and judgment, creativity, and intuition. Engineering = System + Operation + Methodology + Design + Creativity + Science + Process.

CIOs as Chief IT architect does also have the role of ensuring overall IT management integrity: Information Management is a system with interdependent processes, technologies, and a set of best and next practices for moving the business to a dynamic, iterative, integral and interactive digital flow. The CIO as “Enterprise Architect” is also the "chief engineer" of an IT management system, in which the architect must make sure that everything works as a "system," not just from a technical perspective, but from the perspective of the system's goals and purposes, and ensure overall IT management integrity.

Systems don’t exist independently and that there are interactions between systems such as system overlaps and real in-and output dependencies. An architect CIO practices systems wisdom; gains an in-depth understanding of nonlinearity as the very characteristic of the digital IT organization, oversees the underlying business processes and structures, retools IT management with the practices such as reformulating principles, developing strategy, restructuring the organization and presenting a new value proposition, etc. Contemporary CIOs can leverage EIT as a practical tool to reinvents IT as a service broker, value-creator, digital orchestrator, and governance champion, via improving its agility, flexibility, and overall manageability.

Not everyone is an architect, but everyone can learn how to think like an architect. This is particularly crucial for contemporary IT leaders to practice multidimensional thinking, get really creative on how they architect and implement changes and handle IT management, dismantle organizational bureaucracy, to ensure IT is an integral part of the business, strategically positioned to be ahead of where the business is moving next, seek a balance of their influence with other disciplines to effectively add value to the whole and accelerate organizational performance and maturity.


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