Thursday, August 29, 2013

CIO as Chief Interaction Officer: How to Build Trustful Business Relationships

The purpose of business is to create and keep a customer. ~ Peter F. Drucker

Modern CIOs have many titles, from ‘Chief Innovation Officer’ to ‘Chief Influence Officer’; from ‘Chief Insight Officer’ to ‘Chief Improvement Officer’, etc, but keep in mind  CIOs also need to become ‘Chief Interaction Officer’ to build a solid business relationship,  because nowadays, IT touches every key process of business and every digital point of customer experience.  

  • Relationships are undeniably the root of all business. The most important asset in business is 'customer.' The acquisition and retention of customers require business relations and so, business relations are very important as well. IT these days need to not only work closely with business partners but also directly manage digital touch point of end customers. 
  • Trustful relationships are the foundation of open culture: Without good business relationships, every decision becomes an argument. The deeper the trust - the more valuable the relationship. If for instance, the CIO has not made a point of generating long-term trustworthy relationships or influence the business culture, they will not accomplish much. Try getting projects approved, not to even think of getting them completed without being trusted. But keep in mind, when meddling business relationship with the personal relationship, leaders or managers may not make an objective judgment or keep a balanced point of view. That said, a professional relationship doesn't mean to hang around or play around, but through multi-angle observation and in-depth communication & understanding. 
  • Business is all about people: To win and maximize strategy execution, people are the most important element of the business. Who executes and maximizes strategy execution? Winning requires a continuous journey of fielding the best team. To win and field the best team, who do you coach, evaluate, develop, mentor, upgrade, and have succession planning programs?  Business is changing and the need for networking is based on building relationships. Relationships are critical to business - both internally, and externally. But for those relationships to matter, to add value, they have to be relationships with empathy and in-depth understanding. 
  • There are multi-layer relationships CIOs need to manage: Such as business peer/shareholder relationship, customer relationship, vendor relationship., etc. Therefore, either making communication or providing the solution, IT leaders should target the different audience, tailor the special needs in order to build up the long-term emphatic relationship. Relationships, true relationships, exist with people. Good relationships with the right people make a business work. 
  • All businesses come down to people who plan to implement a solution: Whether it is with IT assistance or just by re-engineering an existing process, the work begins with people, the praise comes from people and the complaints often originate with people. More than technology, an effective relationship can bridge business success. The better your people management skills (still, the professional relationship goes beyond 'buddy' type), the more you will be appreciated and the more productive your ideas will become. You will find supporters from unexpected places just based on your earlier relationship building efforts.
  • The bottom line-relationships do matter: Be sure you remember that the other person is not an asset, they are a person! Employees do not appreciate being referred to as assets or resources; therefore, relationships in business need to be considered in a different context. The relationship is part of what creates the exchange of goods or services for that profit with a positive experience or a negative experience. The type of the business where the relationship might be a make or break situation is generally where you rely on someone's expertise, you spend extended periods of time with the person, or you build partner-relationship for mutual benefit.  
Indeed, relationship matters, modern CIOs are Chief Interaction Officer and Chief Influence Officer, how to well manage different dimension of relationship will directly impact his/her effectiveness and leadership influence for the long term. 


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