Monday, October 5, 2015

Digital CIO: Rise for Change

The CIO must now wear many hats, and see the forest through the trees.

In the industrial age, CIOs are the second class executive who often do not have a seat at the big table to make strategy, and who spends most of time and resource on “keeping the light on.” However, digital means the increasing speed of changes, data abundance, and hyperconnectivity, technology is often the very disrupter of innovation, and information is the lifeblood of organizations, many forward-thinking organizations empower their CIOs to be the frontrunner, digital transformer, recognize CIOs as a communication hub and change agent due to the unique position they hold to oversight business processes, and interweave business capabilities, so are CIOs ready to rise for CHANGES?

The clue has always been in the name! Chief Information Officer. This role should always have been to focus on the ‘I’ element of the IT spectrum, “Information, Innovation, Intelligence, Integration, Improvement, influence, etc. But too many times the focus has been on the ‘T.’ Now, with much of the ‘T’ being transferred to the cloud in various forms, the CIO has the time to examine the ‘I’ which is generally the lifeblood of many organizations. The transformative digital CIOs have already changed the focus of their work - from technology-oriented tactical managers to information technology leaders and business strategist. IT leaders involve co-creating business strategy. This will allow IT to shine in both roles –as enabler and driver. IT proactively works as an integral part of the business to capitalize on opportunity via leading the transformation; IT is a key component in building differentiated business capabilities, and business catalyzer to reach high-level performance.

From inside-out to outside-in focus: Most senior CIOs understand that the digital transformation of most of the organizations depends, to a large extent, on their capabilities to transform their duty from an inside-out focus into an outside-in focus. They must devote their time and energy, understanding the business and the potential of digital technologies to improve customer experiences, improve business processes and work with senior executives to develop new digital enabled business models. This should be the focus of digital CIO. IT delivers the best solution to the business problems which meet business’s requirement or tailor customer’s needs. IT should facilitate the business partners to the right solutions and help implement them. Today’s organizations are at a crossroads where the segregation or siloing of business units are at a need to reach across the aisles and respectively work with each other. It takes the expertise of all C-Level executives to work together and their teams to propel the organization. The digital CIO has many personas that are internally and externally focused along with business savviness.

CIOs must lead IT in reaching high-level performance. IT is the only entity in the organization supposed to understand business entirely and oversee organizational processes horizontally, IT needs to be able to provide an innovative solution or supply a differentiated solution that contributes to both top line growth and the bottom line success of the organization. IT needs to become the business’s innovation engine, rather than just tools. IT must lead to reaching high-level performance. IT needs to play a different role in the situation at hand: What should be focused on is the integration of IT into business decisions and processes.

The CIO must now wear many hats, and see the forest through the trees. In most organizations, the IT leader is positioned to understand the business across the enterprise ("Seeing the forest through the trees"). When he/she can accomplish that goal, that is when IT can drive value into the organization. Then your IT leadership expertise as a technologist can shine most effectively because you are business enablers, from internal support to Sales, Marketing, Finance-billing, Operations, Customer Care and Satisfaction, and lastly, report all of the above. It is all about the business value, personal or functional. And that value can be tangible or intangible. It is about leadership, CIOs are responsible for delivering value, enabling and catalyzing the business and beyond. The modern CIO must have a balance of technology and business knowledge. A good modern CIO operates with terms like "profit growth," "cost optimization," and "increase productivity."

The shift of focus for the organization’s CIO attributes has moved in such a way that the cutting edge IT type is not enough, more skillset, and integrative capabilities are required. That is, the person who moves up the IT ranks and thus landing in the CIO spot will also need to have an inherent knowledge of the business, because every IT project is business initiative, and every modern business function has IT embedded in it. The world moves too fast and marketing, finance, technology, leadership are all intertwined. You have to be well-rounded to succeed as an executive. It's good to see the corporation embracing CIOs and their technology teams as business partners. Technology needs to now embrace the business, companies that have a strong working relationship between their CIOs, CEOs, and CFOs tend to outperform their peers on important metrics such as profit and revenue

The expectations for CIO have grown multi-fold, and they are expected to be visionary and path-finder for business strategy and growth. Digital CIOs are specialized generalist who has strong leadership trait to be as a “Chief Influence Officer”; who can think out-of-box as “Chief Innovation Officer”; who can leverage data in decision making and build a data-based business culture as a “Chief Insight Officer”; who can continue to optimize business processes and capability as “Chief Improvement Officer.” Or to put simply, modern CIOs are digital transformers rising for changes.


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