uGovernIT

A Practical Approach for IT Governance

The C-Suite needs to wake up to the Digital Age!

leave a comment »


Background

At the Avasant CIO Digital Connect in Washington DC earlier this month, Kevin Parikh, CEO of Avasant,remarked “Today’s digital technology options are creating opportunities for government and corporations to be more nimble and better serve their constituents”.  He then posed a question to us (Jay Ferro, CIO, American Cancer Society;  Vivek Kalra, Senior Vice President, Tech Mahindra; and Subbu Murthy,  CEO, UGovernIT) sitting on the panel:  “How does digital innovation impact how we design and deliver technology to the Enterprise?”

The Old Paradigm 

Over the past decade, many IT Advisers, including yours truly have been canvassing the idea that IT needs to be aligned to the enterprise, IT should be an enabler, IT should be scalable, flexible, so on and so forth.  In an earlier blog post,  I identified that for the CIOs to run IT as a business, they need to develop an IT Governance mechanism that covers four key aspects:

The first and the most critical aspect is safety and security of the enterprise. This implies providing a scalable, reliable, and secure Enterprise Architecture.  It should be pointed out that the Enterprise Architecture is not just technology components, but using a framework like Zachman, it encompasses people, process and technology.  While cost efficiency, getting value out of IT and innovation are essential components of aligning IT to business, these do not matter if the enterprise is at risk. Target, Home Depot and now Anthem Blue Cross serve as grim reminders as to how critical managing risk is to the enterprise.  So the first pillar in managing IT as a business is Security and Mitigating Risk.

The notion of shared services helps IT manage and deliver shared services efficiently. This helps IT leadership use the same service framework within the department and extend its use to other functions in the business.  The second pillar in managing IT as a business is Shared Services.

Since there is usually more work than resources available, one challenge is how to identify and prioritize the IT workload?  The most effective way is to proactively work with users to enhance the value of IT delivered.  Traditional project management tools do not address this interaction between users and IT.  The key to success is to bridge the IT-User-Executive gap by providing a practical, efficient, and most important, a non-onerous process of managing IT workload.  The third pillar in managing IT as a business is Effective Demand Management.

The CIO has earned the seat at the table, but will not be able to keep it if the CIO is not helping the Enterprise meet its Strategic, Operational and Budgetary Objectives.  This requires the CIO to be the change agent driving efficiency and innovation to the Enterprise.  This also requires the CIO to align IT plans to the business plans and pay close attention to IT spend versus value delivered.  The fourth pillar in managing IT as a business is Aligning IT Spend to Business Needs.

The Digital Age and the Paradigm Shift!

As I reflected on the impact of the Digital Age, I recognize that the paradigm CIO’s use is top-down.  Nothing wrong with it, except that the innovation is not just happening top down.   Innovation is also, in fact more often than not, happening bottom up.  Users are demanding more and oppose any structure that inhibits them.  If top down design worked, why did the Taxi companies not anticipate Uber? By no means I am suggesting that we abandon IT Governance. Nor am I suggesting we abandon traditional IT alignment models.  I am suggesting that we need to incorporate the users in the innovation cycle.  We have to abandon top-down only models and add the bottom up model that keeps the user experience as a key component of developing the IT architecture.  Top down models focus on data and users focus on experience which are workflow-centric.

Janet Schijns, Chief Marketing Technologist, Verizon shared a great example.  When she manages her flights via the web, there is great help in making reservations but very little that is beneficial to the experience of the specific passenger on the specific flight.  For example:  Did your luggage make the connecting flight?  If there are delays, how are you rescheduled?

A Sandwich Model!

Borrowing from an old design paradigm,  we have to switch from the top down design model to the sandwich model.  By no means the sandwich model implies that we abandon the fundamentals we have all learnt as CIOs. But it does mean that we have to actively incorporate user-centric workflows built on easy to use platforms as part of our IT architecture, manage risk (not design rigid systems that eliminate risk), allow users to innovate, embrace change rapidly and harness the rapid changes in technology.

Implications of the Sandwich Model

Not that I have the crystal ball, but I feel that the CIO’s role will be very different from the present.  While CIOs will continue to be the change agent, and the bridge between Business and IT, the role will shift to becoming the “hermit” who will facilitate innovation.  From a technology perspective, there will be a radical shift to mobile computing.  This will force a fundamental shift from large monolithic Enterprise Systems such as SAP to modular, workflow centric mobile applications.  I hope so, I have spent millions building technology on this principle.

Written by Subbu Murthy

October 11, 2015 at 1:55 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: