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BLOG: Leading a transformation

Tracey J. Rothenberger | March 14, 2012
The most important step in a successful business process transformation is arguably the motivation and empowerment of diverse stakeholders at all levels of the organisation.

Although business problems often have technology-based solutions, woe is the CIO who tries to go it alone. To carry out successful business transformations, CIOs must forge broad coalitions at all levels of the company and carefully express the hard business value of their projects. Too often, we forget.

Consider a problem just about every CIO has: grappling with a deluge of business information. Digital information will grow by a factor of 30 by 2020 and the number of files will increase by a factor of 60, predicts IDC. 1

And paper is still with us. One in four AIIM survey respondents recently said they believe their paper consumption is still on the rise. Other research shows that paper is second only to e-mail as a source of business-critical information for knowledge workers - ahead of digital forms and documents.

Ironically, the very technologies that enable greater communication in business continue to feed the information explosion: i.e., the Web, social media and mobile devices. They proliferate content, burden management processes, erode productivity and complicate regulatory compliance.

Bottom line, this information glut threatens corporate financial health, business agility, innovation and customer satisfaction. It's becoming harder to get the right information to the right people at the right time. Information management projects are expensive and failure is common.

Fortunately, new, flexible information management technology and business models offer promise. For example, organisations are increasingly turning to virtualisation technology and cloud-based storage (public and private) to help mitigate infrastructure spending. New printing and document service models offer big opportunities for reducing paper and device management costs, and for driving up productivity. Imaging, electronic archiving and digitising workflow offer potential for big efficiency gains.

Since projects like these definitely range beyond IT, they need to be managed by more people than the CIO alone. Successful process optimisation requires senior executive buy-in, line-of-business management, domain expertise and motivation of the rank and file. CIOs must adopt a multi-level strategy for change that engages all of these stakeholders.

Start with the chief financial officer. The successful CIO must clearly articulate an information management initiative's contribution to corporate business objectives, line-of-business goals and, above all, to hard financial targets. The CFO will then better understand the need.

Next, woo the rest of the C-Suite. Successful CIOs are becoming more "strategic," aligning specific IT initiatives with line-of-business objectives, such as sales, finance/accounting, operations, customer service and HR. Line-of-business CXOs and their managers, responsible for how people produce and use information, are natural allies when they understand the plan. They are acutely aware of how poor business information management affects the bottom line.

Nonetheless, some of these managers will be wary of change. At first glance, their processes incorporate business-critical information so completely that even tweaking these processes can seem untenable.

 

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