download (10)It is becoming increasingly necessary for Industries and Organizations to improve Productivity, Reliability and keep pace with the ever increasing demands. Never before has there been such a pressure on Business-the Production and Engineering departments to keep up to these demands.

Business has no other choice but to identify “issues”, adapt “new technologies”, de-bottleneck and implement Engineering/Process IT Innovation drives wherever practical and possible.

Information Technology is not the business, it is an enabler. By enabling the business, the IT strategy, architecture and projects should be dictated by the larger Organization business strategy, architecture and programs. However, we often see a Disconnect between the IT and Business Strategy.

The IT strategy

The CIO or the Chief Information Officer can play the role of a partner and assist the Business team achieve their objectives.

IT is perceived as not providing value to the organization. Why is this?

Typically the CIO and the IT team’s role have been restricted to Implementation, ‘Support’ & ‘Maintenance‘ of Enterprise needs related to IT hardware and Software.

IT teams have in the past procured specific software and hardware, have got tied down by the lock in periods, typically three to four and have eventually got trapped with the obsolete software down the line.

The advent of the Cloud, Platform as a Service, Infrastructure as a Service & Software as a Service has provided the CIO with new possibilities.

Technology trends and landscapes are much more dynamic now and there is an increasing need for CIO’s to look at getting out of the ‘traditional support‘ mode and get more focused on meeting the ever increasing demands from Business.

The Organization now increasingly looks at the CIO for critical support to the Business teams, without which no Transformations would be possible.

A Proactive CIO is the one that sees the cue and takes the lead in these transformational initiatives that can make a big difference to the way the Organization performs.

Most CIO’s of Organizations report to the CFO, I am not sure if this is the right structure. However a smart CIO can take advantage of this structure and ensure that they have the blessings of the CFO to allocate good Budgets to IT and Process and Engineering IT initiatives.

Having said that in today’s recessionary times, these Budget allocations are not easy. A lot is expected to be achieved with a reduced budget and in least time.

Also several IT initiatives related to Business improvements in the past have not been successful, mainly because the CIO and the IT teams has never been considered as a reliable partner to implement and be responsible for such Initiatives and its Implementation.

How can the CIO and his team become a trusted Business partner and how do they first ensure these Budget allocations? How would they get the Management Support and backing?

-A Business Transformation programme

The first phase would necessitate the hiring of a Business Process Improvement Consultant who would on a fast track, identify issues across the Business units, recommend Areas of Improvement.

{We will not get into details here about the way the programme is to be managed}

The Consultant should ideally be asked to recommend a short list of areas of improvement, those which can provide the Organization with the maximum Impact.

-An Innovation drive

There is no point in diluting the efforts of Innovation by identifying far too many areas for innovation and improvement as mentioned earlier.

This should be Targeted and only those Innovations that can meet the new Business needs and challenges must be taken up.

The following would be KEY to the success of these IT Innovation drives.

-Branding Campaign

A precursor to the Innovation project should be a well designed and branded campaign.

This campaigns only objective is to sell this idea within the Business and to ensure that the entire Business team realizes the value of this programme and the Business Outcomes that it is designed to achieve

-THe Right Technology

Identify a tested and proven Technology. It’s a good idea to make site visits to organizations that have implemented these Technologies successfully and get a good feedback

-The Right Leader & Right team

The leader should ideally be CIO who shares the Business & the Organization’s vision. He should be assisted by a Business Leader. The need for small focused teams comprising Leads from IT and Business is absolutely necessary. The right leader needs to assist and lead the team and justify to the Core team, the need for these innovation drives and the resultant Business Outcomes.

-Right Partner to Implement

Identification of the Right partner to implement is another Key need and ideally the selected product or the technology OE is the right agency to recommend the partner.

-The Right Methodology, Framework

It’s very important to ensure the right methodology which ensures consistent internal stakeholder support. How do we manage this?

The idea is to break up these projects in phases and into small projects rather than go with a Big bang approach.

Create small POC’s, demonstrate small success stories.

The best way to show proof of success of typical process Automation or other IT Innovation drives is to get the ‘Business users’ to see and measure success-the best way is to implement a POC, develop a small self service portal, where they are able to key in specific data and see tangible benefits.

Unless the Business Users ‘do not perceive‘ this as an Experiment and a Risk, the project will not meet its objectives.

If this is achieved, not only the Roll Outs of the project is guaranteed but also in the least time and well within the reduced Budgets.

Lessons Learnt

The CIO must make these success stories visible to his Organization at the right times during the project progress. The objective must be to ensure that the rest of the Organization and key stake holders are confident about the success and supports him and the Business teams.

Change is always resisted; people get complacent and comfortable doing things the old way. It’s important for them to experience the Changes Innovation brings and how it lets them achieve their Objectives better and more efficiently.

Smart CIO’s are the ones that are looking to ’outsource’ routine and Typical Support and gearing up to meet the new Business Challenges.

The role of the new age CIO is to lead from the front and move from typical “Supporting” the Business to ”Contributing” to Business through a string of IT and Engineering/Process IT Innovation drives that transforms the Business.