Thanks to the rise of technology’s importance in business, CIOs have found their job’s becoming increasing difficult. New problems and headaches are as consistent in showing up, as technology innovations themselves – and in an industry where the number of IoT devices is slated to increase by 285% (38.5 billion) by 2020, that’s no small task.
Yet, even with the constant influx of new ones, the same core issues seem to concern every CIO. The good news though, is that there are solutions, and this is how enterprise architecture, digital business platforms can help implement them.
It’s always been important for IT to be properly aligned with the business goals – from support, all the way to innovation.
In fact, this is and has been a core function for enterprise architecture (EA) for some time, and CIOs that recognize this have been benefiting from it. However, as the rate of technology change has and will continue to increase, the wider problem CIOs find with the alignment of IT and the business, is staying aligned.
Traditional enterprise architecture models have been adapted to quell this issue. Agile enterprise architecture is centered around being a more malleable, more transparent enterprise architecture set up. Being more welcoming of change, the new found agility is enhanced by collaboration systems that can insure the relevant parties to a business process are all in the know of both future improvements/changes, and current tasks.
As we touched on earlier, staying agile in such an ever changing market is essential.
This is one of the cases when CIOs with their head in the clouds, are actually more grounded than those without. Of course, in this case we’re talking tech, and naturally we mean the tech cloud, and not the metaphor for daydreaming.
Investments in CAPEX (money invested to buy fixed, physical assets) set ups are approaching legacy status, in that for most businesses they’ll no longer be a viable option.
Factors including the amount of data we need to store, the high costs (in time and money) of implementing physical storage structures, and the relatively low costs (again, in time and money) of implementing Software as a Service or, OPEX systems, the former no longer makes any sense.
Software as a Service (SaaS) systems are agile from the ground up. Their subscription model means you can pay for what you’re using and walk away when you’re done or find a provider more suited to your needs elsewhere. Additionally, their decentralized, hosted nature allows them to be updated on the fly without wasting resources on the businesses end. Win, win.
In this day and age, staying agile demands an efficient ‘bimodal approach’ to IT. To elaborate, think of traditional IT, the IT that keeps the lights on, the systems ticking and whose main goal is often reducing costs, as mode 1. When the new look IT – or mode 2 – is factored in, the one that has been called to the forefront of an organization, to cope with the digital heavy nature of modern business; and the one that demands innovation from its members to lead the business forward, we call this approach ‘bimodal’.
As some companies don’t have the resources for their IT departments and teams to juggle both modes, SaaS is essential to new IT’s success. Paired with enterprise architecture, SaaS can be very useful indeed. For a start, both enable and promote collaboration across the business through their interconnectivity.
For example, the set up allows processes such as modeling, and roadmapping to be opened up, letting the relevant bodies easily work together to create them, whilst simultaneously keeping those that need to know, in the know, even when change comes suddenly.
Similarly to concerns over IT’s agility and flexibility, the agility and flexibility of the businesses itself is another top concern of CIOs. Businesses need to change, and pivot to stay relevant. In radical cases, this can be at a rate of near-moments notice.
Since IT is so integral to a business’s systems and processes, IT often has to pivot with the rest of the business too. In fact, it often has to pivot first to ensure the rest of the business is ready.
This is why business agility and flexibility is so important to CIOs, as rushed last minute changes are clearly not ideal, and ideally avoidable. To get around this, CIOs should implement collaborative and transparent procedures across the business, so that relevant parties are aware in advance of changes, and to an extent, collaboratively involved in the decision making process.
Digital business platforms, enterprise architecture and innovation management solutions that support collaboration through discussion systems, kanban boards and other modules are well-suited for this purpose.
The interconnectivity they promote means anybody, and potentially everybody can be updated on processes in real time. This is critical to enforcing efficient decision making, and those decisions, as well as thoughtful planning, are key to maintaining an agile business.
A study into business elements that typically concern CIOs, placed much weight on this point. Innovation hasn’t always been a core IT objective, but as IT has largely graduated from “just support,” the need for innovation has graduated with it. So much so, that the study even claimed that, “when successfully achieved, innovation has the ability to achieve both revenue growth and cost reduction. In fact, innovation can help with just about all of the IT management issues.”
We’ve touched on this issue before, even calling for the idea of a CIO to be repurposed from the Chief of “Information,” to “Innovation.” The mistake many people make, is assuming innovation is only about bringing new ideas and products to market. However, in the scheme of things, internal innovation in processes, structure and how teams operate is arguably just as, if not more important, as it must be done more consistently than the former.
Yet, in a global 2015 study by the Business Performance Innovation Network, only two in five business managers think their IT teams “do a good job at helping them become more strategic, responsive or valued as a business partner.”
Of 250 global business managers surveyed in 2015 by the Business Performance Innovation Network, less than half believe the level of innovation in their companies is good or very high, and “only two in five think their IT groups do a good job at helping them become more strategic, responsive or valued as a business partner.”
This isn’t necessarily because innovation in IT is being ignored (although in some cases it is), it’s more that the innovation is there, just without good management.
Enterprise architecture teams, along with innovation management, have a role to play here. Innovation management can be leveraged via pairwise comparisons and other modules to more accurately determine the best course for the innovation process.
Additionally, business cases and transitional plans should be created, so that when new ideas are formed, they are executed efficiently. The benefits of using enterprise architecture and innovation management in tandem are straightforward enough, but by no means should this be grounds for them to be undervalued. Simply put, the combination means every good idea comes with an understanding of how to implement it.