Sunday, August 28, 2011

CIO as Chief Influence Officer: Seven Points of Key Influences

 The strategic role of CIOs is more based on the influence made across the organizational boundary, from innovation to sustainability, from talent management to cultural transformation.

The CIO role by nature is fraught with paradox, the modern CIO need be both business strategist and IT manager, innovator and cost-cutter, visionary and situation-driven. Chief influence officer is one of the most pertinent personas for CIO in the 21st century since technology is ubiquitous in the information age. However, the traditional big box hardware style of IT infrastructure is disappearing, and more invisible digitized IT backbone based on Cloud computing is emerging, modern CIO is no longer just the chief infrastructure officer to manage back office of functional IT, this strategic role is more based on the influence made across the organizational boundary, from innovation to sustainability, from talent management to cultural transformation. Here we discuss the seven points of CIO influences:

1. Strategy Influence

The strategy is a set of decisions that drive or shape most of a company's subsequent actions. In a rapidly changing digital era and increasingly competitive global environment, IT is now considered a driver of a company’s growth strategy rather than just the keep-the-light-on function. As a result, CIOs now have more accountability and visibility than ever before. The CIO’s ability to create fundamental business value is now greater than ever. IT strategy and the “art of the possible” in technology influence the development of business strategy, closing the loop in strategy development. Co-development of strategy by business and IT would reduce risks of surprise disruptions and better involve IT in bolstering competitive advantage. Today’s CIO not only make a significant influence on organization’s key decisions, real-time digital IT tools such as mobile/social also provide insight and even foresight: the decision capability based on data & analytics, beyond executives' golden guts.

2.   Innovation Influence

Innovation is the execution of new ideas that create business value. Technology is the engine behind innovation at digital age, Chief Innovation Officer is another crucial persona fitting in today’s CIO role, CIO manages incremental or planned innovation via project portfolio or sponsoring business process optimization, and catch disruptive innovation by envisioning the industrial trends and data-driven foresight. It’s no secret that diverse groups come up with more innovative ideas. To tap into this multifaceted source of power, CIO will also help craft the innovation platform by taking advantage of modern technology such as mobile/cloud/social/analytics., etc. The traditional IT mindset aims to capture the value of technology through top-down planning, formal structures, and clearly defined processes. In the new normal, the mindset for success will emphasize a bottom-up search for value through innovative experimentation with customers and partners.

3.  Technology Influence

For high-performance companies, technology is the revenue driver and enabler of new business models.
On the one hand,  CIO is the authorized owner of corporate information technology, on the other hand, statistically 50%+ of the CIOs report to CFO or other executives, that’s why CIOs are more about the influence on IT budget and priority via  communicating and collaborating with other decision makers.In addition, IT consumerization & application sprawling is another phenomena in the current red-hot cloud era, business divisions sometimes bypass IT to procure their own cloud-based technological solutions without consulting CIO, and very often, with ignorance about governance, security, risk control and holistic vendor relationship. In the face of this new normal, the only thing the wise CIOs have to influence—persuade the business about the potential costs of the current situation and the benefits of your solution.  

4.  Culture Influence

Modern enterprise has recognized corporate culture as  the strategic imperative for any large scale change management effort, many companies also walk the talk, take the tough cultural journey: from culture ignorance, culture cognizance into culture transformation. If we say CEO may take the ownership about culture, then CIO could be one of the biggest influencers on it via the modern knowledge sharing platform, analytics tools  to inspire thought leadership, encourage the dissent opinions and demonstrate diversity. Through CIO’s radical influence, the invisible corporate culture becomes more tangible through measurable KPIs, the dynamic analytical culture and social learning environment will be cultivated to embrace the change, and the collective wisdom becomes the crucial factor at any strategic decision-making scenario.   

5.   Talent Influence

Though HR is the main function to hire or fire the people,  IT should become the  strategic partner to revitalize modern talent management based on data-driven advanced analytics.The high-performance businesses may have hybrid organizational structure: the traditional function-driven pyramid and dynamic networked model (to team up like-minded talents or group with cognizant difference),  IT could help set up such a structure and digital platform for intrapreneurship, encourage people to contribute to the innovation dialogue, unleash a diverse workforce, track natural leaders and key influencers,  CIO can also make influence on analyzing the data about the future trends, and long-term global talent strategy. The purpose of such a platform is:
  • To connect people across functions
  • To enable collaboration on ideas and projects
  • To build communities of practice and interest
  • To enhance knowledge about one another
  • To empower people with a personal branding page
  • To personalize the talent experience and make  large organization feel smaller
  • To track thought leadership and natural leaders at dynamic talent pipeline

6.   Sustainability Influence

Technology has become increasingly important and ubiquitously efficient in our society, however, all the use of pervasive technology comes at the cost, accelerating depletion of earth resource, increase the carbon footprint and accumulating the environmental waste. Modern CIOs has the new persona: Chief Sustainability Officer, to make an influence on the environment, also dig the new gold via it and improve business’s bottom line.CIO has to balance sustainability efforts with business demands via asking
-How could we measure current CO2 footprint accurately? 
-Once we establish a roadmap, how do we measure the effects of changes we make to technology and business processes?
-How can we use the data we collect to motivate and impact sustainable change, both inside IT and across the enterprise?
-How can we create a roadmap to reduce IT’s energy footprint and support corporate goals, but at the same time balance our sustainability efforts with business demands?

7. Influence on Influencer

     Modern corporations are massive, complex, dynamic ecosystems. In many of them, organizational inertia is considerable. The effective CIOs should have excellent working relationships with other business leaders, savvy CIOs can also identify the formal and informal power brokers cross the boundary and establish a personal dialogue with them prior to presenting the problem for consideration to the group as a whole. CIOs who have developed influential competence seek to understand the mindset of all related parties, it takes humble attitude and a fact-driven presentation, mixing candor with openness, leveraging humility and courage.

As the result of these seven points of influences, the effective CIOs can harmonize business nature and human nature, and lead transformation effortlessly and achieve the goals as if by magic.


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