Monday, April 2, 2018

Digital CIOs Leadership Responsibilities: Three legs of the Stool

It’s now more relevant than ever to have the versatile IT leader who can play situational leadership to enforce IT influence across the digital ecosystem.

With the exponential growth of information and continuous disruptions, the digital CIO is not the tedious management role to keep the lights only. The expectations for CIO have grown multi-fold, There’re many key traits in digital CIO leadership, there’re many talents in modern CIO. A CIO has the multitude leadership responsibilities that include the three legs of the stool:





Digital leadership practices: CIO role is perhaps one of the most sophisticated executive roles in modern businesses because they have to wear multiple personas to practice situational leadership and fulfill the management duties accordingly. Some say digital enlarges the functional gaps because different parts of the organization evolve digitalization with different speed. Traditional IT organizations are usually slow to change, and struggle to align with the business. But digital IT needs to be run as the linchpin to weave all important business elements into differentiated business capabilities. Therefore, digital CIOs have to keep reinventing IT to adapting to changes all the time and do more with innovation. The leadership roles such as CIO need to share the unique point of view, break down conventional wisdom, and advocate alternative ways to do things. They have to deal with situations that you have not dealt with before, possessing confidence and experience to be entrepreneurial, and lead their organization up toward the next growth cycle and catalyze digital transformation. CIOs with innovative leadership styles are the key to re-imagine IT for achieving the art of possible. It is a strategic imperative for IT leaders to know how to play a bridge between what the business understands and what technology understands. They need to have a clear technological vision and have genuine empathy with the users of technology and end customers. The role of the CIO should be able to envision not only where a company believes it is going, but how it will get there, and how it might be missing out on opportunities or face the risks. The path to leadership mastery is something that unfolds day by day via practice, practice, and practice more.

Strategic planning: Digital CIOs are not just tactical managers, but forward-thinking business strategists. The CIO is a serious partner in the inner circle of top management to creating value-added strategies and enabling deeper insights into the opportunities IT can do. As such, the CIO must be a strategic leader as their peer executive officers, understand the whole business models, customers, and the markets the business operates in, the competitive position of the business, and the performance horizon in the mind. There is no stand-alone IT strategy, IT strategy is an integral component of the business strategy. Digital IT organizations need to contribute to the business’s strategic planning and drive digital transformation of the entire organization. The CIO as the business strategist has to look forward and actively position the business in the right place to take full advantage of opportunities and prevent potential risks. To take a stepwise approach to implementing the strategy, IT roadmap is a chronological plan designed to blaze a clear path for IT investments and to ensure that the company gains the set of capabilities, expressed in the form of strategy bluebook. CIOs should have the hands-on key management processes that feed them the facts upon which to make better strategic decisions and measure how well they are doing.

Operational oversight: In many well established IT organizations, legacy IT systems, and processes are critical for the business’s survival, but also drag down the business speed of changes, and make their IT organization as a cost center, still get stuck in the lower level of the business maturity. There is no doubt that IT has to provide stability and operational health, which requires a serious amount of positive communication whilst continuously looking for the cost-efficient replacement of unstable or "old" processes. IT assessment is a great way to identify what is right or wrong in the IT environment. When a CIO is able to capture operational oversight, position and maintain the IT organization to ensure it addresses both "IT effectiveness" and "IT efficiency," to achieve operational excellence, they have earned their stripes. The CIO needs to be the capable business executive who can negotiate all maintenance contracts, leveraging demand-side analysis with TCO shifting from technology budget to business budget discussions, to ensure that technology spending is in line with the business strategies and objectives. It is challenging to shift IT reputation from a cost center to a profit center because it requires some kind of rethinking and reinventing corporate processes and re-tuning the business capabilities.

As we know there are different types of IT organizations and different cycles in their maturity. It’s now more relevant than ever to have the versatile IT leader who can play situational leadership to enforce IT influence across the digital ecosystem. CIOs have to advocate their organization, and IT value has to be driven, indicated and understood at all levels of the organization. This is accomplished through establishing strong interdependent relationships, pursuing operational excellence, and practicing strategic leadership influence.

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