Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Three Aspects on How to Groom a Digital CIO

Digital CIOs are business strategist and innovation evangelist, talent master, and customer champion.

Due to the abundance of information and fast changing technology trends, CIOs have so much more on their plate now than before, and in most circumstances it would be excellent for the job. It's also a role of the CIO to participate in the preparation of the company's strategies that reinforce its competencies in both digital and global vision of the business. CIO is a partner in leadership within the organization. The technologies serve the objectives of the company's business. As the Chief Information Officer of your company, the requirements of your job are vast and varied. The skills that you must exercise including strategy making and execution, sharing technology vision; providing digital transformation leadership for the organization and beyond, and practicing IT management approach for your team. In short, you’re expected to be all that and a bag of chips. But how to groom such a high-effective digital CIO?


CIO’s business acumen on the rise: In order to be an effective Digital CIO, you must understand every aspect of the business. Unfortunately, too many CIOs are seen as just techies by the business side of the house, and the IT departments see CIOs as a tactical IT Managers who don't have enough hands-on business experience. It is a tough balance. People come in from outside of IT perform well as CIOs so long as their role is properly understood, so it should also work the other way around, IT ranked CIOs need to learn the business and gain an in-depth understanding of end customers as well. CIOs tend to have a unique overview of the organization that can only be an advantage. It is very possible to make this transition given the right skills and circumstances. After all, if you can’t see the entire painting, you’ll never know how big the frame needs to be.


High potential IT leaders need to build the full set of business skills and competitive leadership capabilities. Now more often the business is inextricably connected with technology, and the functional barriers are starting to weaken, allowing business professionals to pursue their aspirations and to apply their skills and expertise to their greatest effect. If that takes them across business functions, it would be great to break down the silo thinking, and harness cross-functional communication and collaboration. Unfortunately, the majority of organizations today do not provide the potential IT leaders or managers such rotating opportunities to develop the full set of business skills and expand their career horizon. Hence, high potential IT professionals need to take the calculated risk to grow on their own, gain diverse experience, build a unique set of capability, and become “who they want to be.” They need to develop many important skills such as human resources, cross-departmental collaboration, problem-solving, innovation and even cost analysis and budgeting. Such well-rounded IT leaders will have the vision to balance the multidimensional business values such as shareholders’ value, customer value, community value, etc, they have to focus on both top line growth and bottom line short-term result.

Digital CIOs need to be equipped with intrapreneurs' mindset to focus on both top-line business growth and bottom line efficiency. If grown from a technical ladder, those CIOs will be good at bottom line growth, that's about control costs with logical thinking. But for top line growth, the intrapreneur’s mindset is important for CIOs to run IT as a business, and manage both opportunities and risks accordingly. Today, IT leaders must understand the revenue model and understand how IT supports that model and transform IT from a cost center into an innovation engine and value creator. At the end of the day, it is all about ROI, and businesses are bringing back to the businesses. These are notable steps for a visionary leader, and ensure that the overall company is on track! In fact, today's leading CIOs are running their own operations as if they are a business in their own right, balancing costs, scarce resources and recoveries to maximize the return on the IT budget.

As we know there are different types of organizations and different cycles in their maturity, equally, individuals have their own cycles, and also importantly leadership mix. Sometimes it’s less about the individual but more about how the leader fits in with the cohort and, more importantly, where does the organization want to go based on well-defined business strategy. Digital CIOs are business strategist and innovation evangelist, talent master, and customer champion.


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