Friday, June 1, 2018

The Digital Portrait of Modern CIOs

As businesses change shape, size, expansion, and transformations, CIOs too need conditioning and improvement.

In the world moves too fast, with the exponential growth of information, leadership, marketing, finance, technology, etc, are all intertwined. IT leadership is strategically important. What C-level executives really want is a partner that works both "on the business" and "in the business," not just "for the business"; someone who knows what they want before they know themselves; someone who can contribute to the top line business growth and long-term business strategy. Thus, the digital portrait of modern CIO is different from the traditional CIOs who often think and act as the tactical IT manager. The important thing is that digital CIOs as the top leadership role, must have the strategic mindset, interdisciplinary knowledge, unique personality, and a clear idea of what needs to be done, yet creative enough to not hold the company back from growth.

An Innovative Outlier: Traditional CIOs often live in the box, take the reductionistic approach (business is the sum of parts) to manage IT. Outlier CIOs are the one who can step out of a conventional thinking box, connect nonlinear dots interdisciplinarily, and leverage Systems Thinking to ensure IT as an integral component of the company. Nowadays, technology becomes the game changer and innovation driver for businesses. Digital CIOs are often innovative outliers because they have technological vision and awareness, eager to share their fresh perspective on how IT can bring opportunities for the business, help C-Level leaders understand the possibilities of how new technologies can enhance creation or improvement of products/services/solutions. Further, CIOs have to provide "innovation execution" services to the fellow business peers. The focal point is business, not on the technology itself, to become customer-centric and risk-intelligent. IT is the business.

A Change Agent: CIOs are accountable for critical part of the business that is constantly changing and evolving, with increasing pace. To reinvent IT from a change laggard to the change organization of the company, CIOs shouldn’t get pushed for the changes, they are in a better position to play a role as a change agent. The more complex the change, the more complex the solution. It takes a multi-stepped process to get ahead of change curves. Change should be viewed as an “opportunity,” and deep engagement usually accelerates changes. Change Management needs to craft and most importantly deliver clear and cohesive messages at both individual and group level, and more critically reinforce these statements through consistent action. IT should ensure its strategy implementation allowing for digital speed, and responsiveness to be seen by the business as an enabler and even an accelerator. The business-engaged CIO is the right type of digital leader to run a proactive IT and keep navigating during rough sea journey of large or small changes.


An Insightful Polyglot: IT historically has had poor communication accountability within IT or between business and IT. As we move from using technology as a vehicle to maximize efficiency and minimize costs to using technology as an enabler and catalyzer of totally new business models, IT role becomes much more focused on the marketing of technology. The IT leaders usually play the role as a translator between the business and IT; they must straddle concepts and translate language between the business and technical staff. Bridging IT- business gap and eliminating “lost in translation” syndrome become the strategic imperative for improving business responsiveness and performance. Beside communication content and context, it’s also important to adopt new leadership mindset to envision and take more open, interactive and persuasive communication styles to get buy-in.

As businesses change shape, size, expansion, and transformations, CIOs too need conditioning and improvement. The digital CIOs’ portrait is multidimensional, they have to wear different personas and master multiple leadership and management roles effortlessly.

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