Sunday, June 18, 2017

Three Aspects of Improving IT Maturity

IT continues to grow in importance to organizations, both operationally and as a competitive advantage.

We live in an information and technology world and every day more and more technology affects the way we live, love, and think, and overwhelming information permeating everywhere of the business. Great opportunities, dangers, and disruptions are around every corner. Based on the fact that most IT organizations still get stuck at the lower level of maturity, struggle to align with the business and take orders from customers reactively, the more important thing is to work on the activities and considerations that need to be addressed to enhance the IT-business relationship and improve the overall IT maturity.

Position IT as the trustful and strategic advisor to the business: Due to increasing speed of changes and significant impact IT makes on the business, the CIO's greatest challenge is to educate the business on the cost/benefit for each of their alternatives, and together they make the best-informed decisions they are capable of. IT shouldn’t react like an order taker only, CIOs need to spend sufficient time on understanding the business issues enough to push back on what they asked for and explain how alternatives can provide more value. The CIO can embrace it by setting down rules and guidelines and working with the business to get it done correctly. IT continues to grow in importance to organizations, both operationally and as a competitive advantage, IT needs to clearly define its role as a trustful advisor for the business. It means having IT and business collaborate as equal partners so that strategies, projects, organizations, people, etc, work in harmony. This is extremely difficult without spending significant time learning the business. Business units that want it all and want it now will do whatever they can to expedite new technologies to gain a competitive advantage in their respective markets. If the internal IT department can't deliver the capabilities, the business will go outside to find third party service providers. The collaboration entails effective communication, governance, value analytics, partnership, technology scope, and people skills. All these need to be effective to have mature alignment, even move a step further, from alignment to integration, and that organizations with higher and stronger maturity outperform organizations with lower maturity

"De-complexitizing" and make IT more transparent about what is being delivered and how or what is being delivered: IT should be integral to and knowledgeable of the business, aligned with enterprise objectives, as an enabler, a facilitator, of course, fully competent to provide on-going support and tactical execution, and even thrive to become the catalyzer and game changer. Due to “VUCA” business new normal, the process of changing a good business idea into an effective IT solution has become awfully complex and messy in many larger organizations. Simplifying such processes via applying the updated digital principles and just common sense helps a great deal in improving predictability. Just putting IT and the business physically in the same room can often already help a great deal and enhances business understanding of IT.  Hence, as part of and in concert with the top management team, IT leadership needs to sort through the issues, develop rationalizations and achieve mutually acceptable solutions that are then communicated up, down and across the enterprise.

Optimizing organizational structure to improve business effectiveness, responsiveness, and fluidity: There are many factors that influence and have impact on organizational effectiveness, speed, and innovation, such as leadership, culture, organizational structure, people, capability, technology, decision style, competition, market segmentation, roles and responsibilities, performance measures, organizational controls (budgets, authority, etc), process and information systems, etc, and these factors are interrelated. The high-mature digital organization is all about speed, innovation, performance, and intelligence. Companies today have to keep optimizing organizational structure and business ecosystem to improve its effectiveness and fluidity. Generally speaking, having less organizational layers via leveraging the latest technologies, so that everyone in the organization is closer to the organization’s leadership, or having some sort of direct line to give everyone an opportunity to contribute to the vision seems like the best way to become more innovative. It is also important to take a holistic approach, changing organizational structure (managerial hierarchy, control/information flow structure) is an easy part, without considering the correlation of varying factors listed above, change can flow on the surface whereas digital transformation needs to permeate into business vision strategy, culture, communication, process, etc.

IT maturity is proportional with the overall business maturity. There are very few businesses today can state that IT does not play a significant role in the day to day operations or even long-term strategic positioning. Hence, organizations need to take that into consideration when establishing strategic goals to manage their digital transformation. It is important to take a structural approach and make a continuous improvement in running a highly responsive, high-performing, and highly mature digital IT organization.

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