Thursday, December 14, 2017

Three Clarity to Excel CIO Digital Leadership Effectiveness

When IT executives show a higher level of strategic value and manage IT in a structural way, they are on the right track to excel the digital leadership effectiveness.

The disruption of IT will continue. IT matters not only because it’s pervasive, but more about it also continues to advance, and it’s the nature of the "constructive disruption.” Embracing digital is inevitable as that is now part of the reality. IT needs to become the game changer for the business. Thus, the CIO role also continues to be shaken up, refined, reinvented and reenergized. CIOs have to both walk the talk and talk the walk, master learning, change, and innovation. Here are three clarities to excel the CIO digital leadership effectiveness.

CIOs' proactive attitude in trying new things shouldn’t get confused with spontaneity or do things without a plan: Due to the complexity of IT and the multitude of responsibilities, CIOs need to be the strategic thinker and the tactical manager at the same time. The CIO must be totally involved and participate in every decision of upper management and be proactive so there are no surprises when decisions are made. The CIO needs to be acutely in tune with the business. A good relationship between business and IT becomes visible by clearly defining tasks, authorities, and responsibilities. The proactive IT leaders and sponsors attend business reviews with the various business stakeholders in attendance and equally invited those business stakeholders to their IT forums. All these efforts need to take the stepwise approach. The CIO has to help in planning the budgets, predict resource and financial and resource requirements, understand the constraints and walk through these issues thoroughly.

CIOs’ technological vision and passion should not get confused with rushing to new technologies without exhausting the benefits available on the existing technology: Digital CIOs are visionaries who should leverage the emergent technology trends to bring growth opportunities to the businesses. However, it doesn’t mean that CIOs should always rush to new technologies or play the latest gadgets. They should try new technologies when there are clear returns that can’t be found in the existing technologies. CIOs need to resist the urge to deploy new tech toys and focus instead on how to creatively use the business's current IT tools to squeeze extra value out of them. The CIO could be the perfect role to help manage innovation with disciplines and the right tools at the organizational scope. CIOs are also in a unique position to align process, technology, and people, from generating ideas on applying technology and data assets to drive value.


CIOs leveraging IT as a trendsetter for navigating digital transformation should not get confused with thinking IT as magic without logic and transparency: Historically, technology indeed stimulates the mankind's imagination, to make impossible possible. The exponential growth of information brings new opportunities for companies to capture the business insight or forecast customers’ demands. However, thinking of IT as magic without logic or transparency will make IT a mysterious function, it won’t help to bridge IT-business gaps and enhance IT reputation as a trustful business partner. Many IT management teams are still equipped with silo mentality and running IT in the dark with puzzles about value, cost, risks, constraints, other business executives may not feel they are part of it. IT needs to be run as a transparent powerhouse to play its digital magic in a collaborative way. Transparency with LOB leaders is a must and non-negotiable if CIO needs to be successful. The intent behind transparency should always be connected to business performance. Transparency can help IT leaders tell a story of the journey from current state to future state, of improvements, of accomplishments, of enablement with business strategies, etc. It's definitely a great core competency to leverage.

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. CIOs need to be proactive, not spontaneous. CIOs have to advocate their organization, and IT value has to be driven, indicated and understood at all levels of the organization. When IT executives move beyond commodity management and begin to show higher level strategic value and manage IT in a structural way, they are on the right track to excel the digital leadership and build IT as the business competency.

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