In our first post we introduced the notion of service-based investment as a way of managing the maturity of digital into ‘interactional’ (not transactional) services.
Our second post looked more directly at what we see as the impacts of the investment approach on the ICT Management Model and organisational design, specifically:
- Interactional service drives a new integrated investment, and opportunity.
- Parallel organisations within an organisation can’t remain. The investment model for interactional services demands that ICT integrates itself into business investment planning, so that business understands what the total investment in their service offering is, from their end-to-end.
- The organizational investment model needs to be re-thought and re-positioned as Integrated Service Investment.
In this third post we look specifically at what this service reality means for the ICT Management Model. We suggest that not only investment management but the ICT Management structure itself needs to course correct – to ensure it supports Integrated Service Investment of the future public service organization.
Evolving from Information to Investment – ICT Management Model Evolution
After the emergence and settling of the notion of digital as a disruptor, when talking with CIOs and business leaders we work with, the current management debate seems to be focused on a couple of key questions:
- Should ‘ICT’ and ‘Digital’ be separated in terms of strategy and delivery?
- How close should ICT be to the business?
- What role does the business have in ICT strategy?
- Why is a CIO even called a CIO?1
#Disclaimer 1 – we made that one up, but seriously, Chief Information Officer – what does that even mean in the current construct?
The ongoing integration of key ICT roles or even teams and investment from ICT to Digital, or Digital and ICT to the business, is a deck chair game that doesn’t really answer the real questions about quality and direction of investment in relation to services.
Even considering moving the CIO into the business undermines the scale of investment and operations that are currently being managed by those roles. Like it or not, large-scale enterprise-wide platforms, products, applications and infrastructure are here for the long haul, and they need to be managed.
Conversely, the Chief Digital Officer (CDO), who right now must drive digital strategy and execution, isn’t a role that will replace the traditional Chief Information Officer (CIO) or Chief Technology Officer (CTO). Those roles will likely always continue because of their specialization and because the management of, and investment in, technology must continue. ICT is a heavily invested resource and public service organisations in particular are dependent on its execution, stability and scalability.
The new CIO – Chief ‘Investment’ Officer, investing in service, not simply ICT
What might change though, is the focus of the CIO.
The role must stay in the ‘technology’ business. But it must be answerable, in an integrated way, to the overarching aims of the organisation – to deliver service, not to accumulate enterprise technology.
The CIO’s measure is to respond with the business (i.e. the service strategists and deliverers). The CIO needs to answer more than just, what is our technology direction and how is it being managed. They need to answer:
- How does our ICT investment map to the business’ interactional service strategy?
- How does our internal delivery match the service promise the business is making?
- How does our technology investment and management pre-empt transaction and enable interaction?
- What return (not just expense) is our ICT investment giving to the organisation in terms of evolving the service model and the organisation’s future capability?
The CTO then, can continue to manage the ICT Services implementation – the solutions, products, platforms that drive the CIOs investment platform above.
The Chief Digital Officer – assimilating digital into the business as service
The role of CDO to embrace digital platforms, steward organizations to be digitally savvy and get the house in digital order is absolutely necessary, for now. Digital requires the organization to get sorted on immediate investment, capability and competency upskilling, complex vendor management and innovation/disruption as the norm.
That said, does a Chief Digital Officer even exist in the future? We believe, through our experiences, that it will not. We believe the ‘Chief Digital Officer’ is actually a transitional title for the evolution of the digital business – driven by technology opportunities – to the interactional service business.
Rather than the CDO morphing into the CIO role, we see the CDO role integrating into the service strategy part of the business. Inherent in this observation is our position that the modern public service organisation does not need to make the distinction between its business and digital. They are the same.
Essential to this is that the importance of a CDO stops being about a ‘person’ or a position, and starts being about the competency of the next generation of public service leaders (in the business).2 Leaders who plan, strategise, administer and deliver services. Business owners who say ‘I will take care of the law, compliance, communication, HR, my stakeholders but I expect ICT and the CDO to deliver the innovative solution to my service needs’ are inadequate. All elements of the service are their business.
#Disclaimer 2 – we are NOT inventing a role called Chief Service Officer. Enough with the C-Roles. We simply believe that the modern public service executive should be both a service strategist and delivery expert and this encompasses the digital component.
Roles are important, but it’s language that drives action
If the modern ICT capability is driven by a CIO focused on service investment, a CTO who retains the role of pure technologist, and the CDO who is replaced by the business, how does that shape the organisation itself?
Encouraging business to re-engage with strategic notion of services is key to:
- break down the parallel organisation.
- invest in service, not technology accumulation.
- support interactional service design, delivery, sustainment and evolution.
- Truly honour client and staff experience, right through to service delivery technology solutions.
But this is difficult when ICT language dominates the strategic conversation. Disciplines must have language, but ICT language, the language of Enterprise, Agile, SCRUM, Waterfall, ITIL, SIAM, TOGAF, et al is seen as prevalent often, because it exists and is codified. Other than standard project delivery language (which has also come to be owned largely by ICT) the business doesn’t have a neat descriptor of why and how it goes about its work – it just ‘delivers’.
The issue this poses for the organisation is that with ICT language dominating, and methodologies such as Agile being invested in, the organisation is still simply ramping up the ICT investment while business investment shrinks. These ICT terms and methodologies, whilst increasingly aware of business outcomes, are still, in essence, ICT product delivery methods.
If the organisation only invests in these, expecting them to take care of broader experience measures they are in for a shock. There have been plenty of well-documented ICT-based issues in the past six months that highlight relying on ICT methodologies alone can harm the reputation of a public service agency.
One way for business to ‘win’ the language battle, and to end the parallel organisation, is to take back terminology that has drifted to ICT.
A classic language example is the term ‘architecture’
Somewhere in the 1990s the term architecture in any public sector organisation became an ICT term. Enterprise architects are critical to an organisation’s success, but even they would argue that their level of architecture is only a systemic representation of the implementation of the overarching of business strategy.
What business hires the world’s leading architect to only work on the foundation.
Architecture isn’t an ICT domain, it’s an organizational scaffold.
The answer is to not take architecture off anyone, but to share the language. Recognise that multiple levels of architecture exist in an organisation and that the top of the architecture tree in the public service is, the service architecture.
- Service Architecture (staff and client – the experience layer)
- Business Architecture (Delivery – the organisational layer)
- Enterprise Architecture (ICT – the solution enabling layer)
A direct line of sight between all three layers must be visible:
- This is our service offering.
- Therefore we are organised to deliver as such.
- And delivery is enabled (and often led) by the ICT systems, platforms, applications and infrastructure we have in place).
If this kind of shared language isn’t possible, there is simply no way an organisation can deliver sustainable, available client and staff experiences through service.
Once language (business and ICT) is acknowledged and addressed, and the conditions of a business-led service organisation are recognized, the final question to be answered is ‘what shape are we in to deliver this’.
Taking on language, investment, and organisational structure is a big task. Starting from scratch is a lock-in to kicking off one of those ‘transformation’ projects that (in our opinion (and experience)) rarely work. So how do organisations start the process of evolving to this new reality?
Our belief is that the course correction starts with a diagnostic of where the organisation sits in relation to interactional service, ICT and digital maturity. We start this process with clients through a DMA Service Diagnostic – an approach that enables ICT and Service Delivery executives to start the evolution they need to make.
As a senior executive said to us once when we undertook a diagnostic on his ICT organisation end-to-end with a service perspective:
“I always thought this was what our business looked like, but because I hadn’t seen it mapped out in that way I couldn’t manage it or measure it.”