Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Changing Role of CIO

The priority for CIOs is to become a senior business management adviser, genuinely position IT as an integral and inseparable part of the digital business. 

With the consumerization of IT and other emerging digital technology trends such as Cloud, mobile, social and analytics, the role of IT is at the inflection point to go digital. IT shouldn’t be just satisfied with the surviving mode, it has to be thriving, and CIO roles is also changing from an infrastructure IT manager to 'keep the light on' to a wise business strategist/solution advisor/consultant to create value for the organization and make leadership influence across functions and beyond.

From cost center to value creator. CIOs should spend more time with their business peers to understand the added value IT systems are providing to the company. "Keeping the lights on" is fundamental, but CIOs shall spend less time on firefighting issue or exception management and more time on routine and strategy management. Routinization, when all or most of processes and situations are formalized and documented, and teams works in accordance with clear and comprehensive instructions, and the manager deals with only some outstanding exceptions is the most efficient style of management.

Simplicity should rule the day: CIOs need to take business problems, find solutions for them, increase value propositions, simplify operations and be better partners with the rest of the organizations. Therefore, the CIO organization shouldn't just be stocked with technologists. You need problem solvers, change agents, customer champions and innovators, and those who can think forward, dig deeper, see through the issues, look around and beneath the corner, and work smarter. The wider organization needs to provide support for assuring the skills people bring into one organization don't go to waste in the same. CIOs should make it easier for career growth within the wider organization. Further, IT has to walk the talk, in many situations, IT runs big data analytics on a business but, refuse to run them on IT itself. IT knows a lot about how to make applications better, more reliable, less maintenance, easier to change, but you don't seem to want to make that a reality. So IT has to look at itself, improve its own agility and effectiveness, and amplify best practices into the enterprise scope.  

CIOs have to bridge the communication gaps: Most of the businesses executives have no idea how complicated corporate technology is. They don’t have to understand how complex IT system is. Most CIOs don't know how to sell the value of what their teams deliver. Ineffective communication happens when a CIO has one way of thinking and other execs think in a different way. Most CIOs come up through the ranks on the technical side and think differently than the other executives  In many ways, they speak a different language with the different way of thinking. The question is not only how to deliver the message but also what message to deliver. If a CIO sees issues or opportunity he/she shall deliver a message to the colleagues on C-level and convince them to support his/her idea. In the case of competition for resources, that competition shall be for company benefit, not CIO benefit. 

CIOs must set the principles, guideline and rules to run a digital IT: IT is in the middle of a sea change, it is important to realize that there are basic principles and rules that make it work. But the self-centered "our jobs are hard" line only isolates IT more. Make a list of the positives and negatives for each. Regarding negatives, challenge whether it really is a problem. Is there a way to work through it? Make sure that nothing is dismissed due to out of date beliefs or the natural human emotions. Understand your organization’s strategic goals and initiatives. What are you doing that doesn't specifically support them? Work toward getting all of those tasks off of your plate. What can you delegate to your team? - Delegate and let them do their jobs. Also, make sure that the external customers who purchase products or services have a great experience relating to any IT systems that impact them. And that doesn't mean continually bombarding them with how good IT is. It means involving them enough in the process so they see your success as their success.

CIOs as senior advisors and consultants: That role is similar to strategy management adviser in the digital era. It is expected that CIOs will look at business and management components of the enterprise and improve them with IT. The problem here is CIOs, as other management roles as well, for quite a long time not doing strategic management which includes "selling." The challenge is how to spend much less time keeping the lights on and much more time working with the business units. CIOs can identify and propose business development/ improvement ideas, if CIOs can do that on a regular basis, that would help improve IT maturity, to be able to do that, CIOs as well as other executives should have time for strategy management while now most of the time is spent on exception management. That is one of the key goals of enterprise and IT optimization.

The priority for CIOs is to genuinely position IT as an integral and inseparable part of the business. CIOs need to lead the department so that every level of the organization has great working relationships with the IT teams. With these in place, the CIO needs to transform from a technology manager into a business leader, and from a firefighter to a strategy adviser. 


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