Friday, May 10, 2019

The Digital CIO’s Multiple Personas

The CIO needs to be a transformative leadership role, not just an IT functional manager. 

The digital CIO is the sophisticated leader role with a multitude of responsibilities. Especially today, businesses large or small are facing radical digital disruption, a critical factor of IT success has to do with the definitions and scopes of the role that the CIO is playing in their company. Because different organizations are at the different stages of the organizational life cycle, the CIO’s responsibilities are varied even with the same title. They have to figure out their own way to make leadership influence and take a different path to improve their leadership maturity.

Digital exponentialist: We live in the era of the exponential growth of information and pervasive technologies, the CIO as digital exponentialist needs to manage the business information effectively and explore the potential business opportunities at the frontier of emerging digital technologies. They need to contemplate how IT can develop business advantage and improve the top-line business growth, not only as a business enabler but as a strategic business partner. IT leaders need to understand how information can be delivered to the business as an asset. IT is the custodian of information assets that can be tapped from the underlying data and be utilized to turn it into invaluable strategic insight for driving the business forward. This means a broad scope of knowledge around the interaction of business and information. IT should be able to extract the relevance of information and ensure that information is accessible and reliable, understand the economics of such resource investment, and generate massive business value that far exceeds what other functions can incrementally bring to the table. The CIO should educate the management on the opportunities and challenges of technology; recognize talented IT staff who are passionate about exploring new opportunities to work at the heart of the enterprise to awaken changes and build business competency. IT needs to be strategically positioned to be ahead of where the business is moving next, set and communicate the forward-looking vision and generate strategic business value at the exponential digital era.

Business solutionist: In most of the organizations, IT is setting back and waiting for the request. To improve IT organizational maturity, IT has to be configured in a way to understand the business and set the framework to deliver the business and market need, match the demands of the business and customer. Modern CIOs are digital solutionist who won’t just wait for the customers’ requests to solve their issues; they work closely and proactively with the business to identify and frame the real problems, not just symptoms, as well as how to leverage information and technology to solve them effectively. IT needs to be insightful and influential enough to impact and provide customers with the right solution in the right manner at the right cost. Digital is the age of choices; it forces CIOs to get creative on how they figure out the better ways to do things; how they architect and implement changes; and how they interact with customers and business partners to ensure high achievement and seamless execution. Keep in mind that problems do not exist in isolation but as an interdependent and interacting system of problems. Thus, CIOs need to capture business insight and develop all necessary skills to understand the company vision, value proposal, industry, and go to market approach to enable company strategy with business solution deliverable. Otherwise, IT leaders will keep on the path of reactive cost driven operational role and will never strike back.

Innovation evangelist: Digital is the age of innovation. To awaken innovation, disruption and simulation make sense, taking into consideration that a lot of organizations seem not satisfied with their current circumstance as there are not enough innovations happening in their business. Thus, CIOs need to become innovation evangelist. IT shouldn’t limit the creativity of the business. In fact, IT is an innovation catalyst. Innovation requires fresh ideas, and fresh ideas require the Mavericks. Creativity in the "corporate" world has a lot to do with fostering a creative environment and tap the multitude of diversity. CIOs should encourage out of the box thinking, have the vision and want to maximize creativity and innovation at all levels in the organization, hire, retain, and recognize innovators who can help the organization shape the culture of creativity and develop an optimal environment for innovation. A healthy corporate culture is very important as a determinant of business performance. It takes time and the systematic effort within a company to embrace fresh thinking, manage innovation in a structural way, and cultivate innovative culture which stands as a key factor not only in attaining organizational goals but also in the attraction and retention of desirable employees, develop a strong business brand and build respectful business relationships with stakeholders and within the organization itself.

The CIO needs to be a transformative leadership role, not just an IT functional manager. A CIO that is not operating as a C-level peer, has by their very title, created a glass ceiling on the role of IT within the business. By playing varying digital roles well, the improvement in practices can be achieved through many different means for reinventing IT brand and running the high-performance digital organization.


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