Tuesday, January 19, 2016

CIOs as a Digital Pro

CIO's leadership penetration is about the depth of thought leadership as well as the breadth of enterprise knowledge upon understanding business as a whole.

Due to the abundance of information and omnipresence of technology, IT plays a pivotal role in businesses’ digital transformation journey. Transformation means to change the "nature" of something, albeit that the increasing pace of technological advances has clearly impacted the nature and scope of opportunity. Digital transformation represents a break with the past, with a high level of impact and complexity. Transformation efforts need to be undertaken as the means of getting to a defined different capability to accomplish a defined goal. CIO as an IT and digital leader, how to be a digital pro and lead effectively and effortlessly?

CIOs need to be a digital strategists: The landscape for all executive roles constantly change, but the pace of change has been felt the most in areas of IT, marketing, and operations. Expectations from individuals or business consumers outstrip the readiness of most organizations. At industrial era, the pace of change was more predictable and planning for execution was the focus. Now, everything requires shorter term planning without giving up the strategic endgame. Technology is more often the big influencer of business strategy and the creative driver of business innovation. At forward-looking organizations, indeed, CIOs are empowered to be closer to the top of the pyramid and co-make business strategy, and IT needs to be positioned beyond as a service provider, more as a solution advisor and business partner. IT leaders need not only to provide invaluable input to business strategy but running IT as a strategic partner of the business to build differentiated business capabilities in effective strategy management.

Thinking big, start small: CIOs are in a unique position to oversight business because IT is the information hub to orchestrate the whole business nowadays. However, thinking big doesn't always mean to manage the large heavy project portfolio and only hunt for breakthrough opportunities. It is important to have a holistic strategy and catch the critical opportunities for business innovation and digital transformation, but also not forget to grab some low hanging fruits. The CIOs who identify small pivotal changes and start "fixing" them in the background, gradually over time making larger more complex changes tend to be the ones who can turn companies around. Of course, this is not always recognized. Although whether it makes sense to look for a new opportunity where tech is valued varies. There's no one size fits all answer to that. It's definitely case by case. All the communication in the world won't influence the executive peer if there aren't results. That's why those pivotal changes are the basis for a compelling story.

Digital CIOs are information masters: The digital CIO should focus on the information content and context; how that information can be tapped from the underlying data and be utilized to turn it into valuable strategic insight, how the information and insight can be penetrated through the business and be actively used in managing business processes and shaping the business capabilities to execute business strategy solidly. Today, the CIO is not just managing IT to keep the lights on but is managing the information to ensure the right people getting the right information at the right time to make the right decision, to enable enterprises to become nimble and gain the competitive edge, to harness innovation catalyzed by IT and lead to business transformation.

Digital CIOs need to be equipped with an intrapreneur’s 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 to 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.
CIOs' leadership reflection: Leadership is considered the top attribute for CIOs. What are the most important attributes of IT leadership, and how can they best be attained? Leadership flows from a combination of character, learning agility, life experiences, capability and knowledge, success and failure and a desire to lead. It is an expression of one's personality through a group/team/organization of people. More specifically, CIOs' leadership reflections and resolution include: (1) What’re your daily practices to build thought leadership reputation about technology vision, strategy, innovation, talent management, etc. (2) Do you want the company and departments looking to you for leadership around the competitive application of technology in a rapidly changing market? (3). Do you personally want to adapt to changes to meet the shifting needs of your company and staff? (4). Do you want to lead change or digital transformation efforts at your company? Do you want to be in a constant learning mode? (5). Are you passionate about what information, technology, innovation, and positive change can do for the success of your company and beyond? (6) How do you continuously adjust the leadership styles accordingly in order to lead digital workforce more effectively?
IT is now permeating into every corner in the business, and it’s the crucial component to enable almost all digital capabilities of the business today, the CIO's leadership penetration is about the depth of thought leadership as well as the breadth of enterprise knowledge upon understanding business as a whole, CIOs can take the most proactive approach to going digital like a pro, and make a difference.


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