Wednesday, July 20, 2016

"CIO Master" Book Tuning: Three Role Shift to Make CIOs Digital Leaders

Information Systems are impacting every business activities in the organization, CIOs must continue to reinvent themselves to gain respects from business peers.

Compared to other CXOs, the CIO role is considerably new with less than three decades of history. However, due to change nature of technology and the exponential amount of information, the CIO role also needs to be continually reinvented to fit for the new digital era. And forward-look organizations empower their CIOs to lead the digital transformation. So which roles CIOs should play to growth in high-effective digital leaders?

From a functional manager to a digital ambassador: In the industrial age, the majority of IT organizations get stuck at the lower level of maturity, and CIOs act as siloed functional managers to keep the lights on. There is a huge gap between IT and the business due to miscommunication with "get lost in translation,", and lack of cross-functional understanding. The common pitfall for IT leader is to fail to make the connection between IT and the business, lack the cognizance of how it will actually impact the company's top line and bottom line growth. In order to run a digital IT and unleash its full potential. CIOs should have a holistic view of the business from top business leaders’ perspectives and to provide the added value of technology. To bridge the gaps between IT and business, CIOs also need to become digital ambassadors for sharing the technological vision and be able to communicate with the other executives to demonstrate IT capabilities as a strategic enabler of the business. They are responsible for making sure that the IT meets the business requirements and works as an enabler. Learn the business; be the business and become the business. It starts with building strong and value-creating relationships with C-suites, between IT and vendors or suppliers; and build a strong team with a strong bench. Make IT more shared, integrated, agile, flexible, reliable, and fast.

From an order taker to a digital innovator: Traditional IT organizations often act as order takers to fix problems in a reactive mode. And IT is also slow to change because IT is often understaffed and overloaded. Digital is the age of innovation, and a high-effective IT strives to become an innovation engine. As a CIO, you need to understand what the organization’s expectation from IT through an innovation lens. There’s a lot of opportunities to clarify the role of IT in innovation. Are you talking about enterprise innovation using technology or are you talking about IT innovation, improving things they have more control of, such as business processes or the IT function itself? Or both?  IT is uniquely positioned to observe processes across the enterprise. a CIO must find the connection with the business in order to deliver the tailored business solution with innovative approaches, not just IT projects. Sometimes when one business area has a new product that can be used by another, IT leaders can connect the dots to come up with new innovative solutions. CIOs need to be an innovative business leader as well with adequate technical skills who can drive technology to deliver value to the organization, not just technical wizardry, but about how to translate into revenue or profit in the business.

From an IT geek to a business strategist: Many CIOs today come from the technology rank and are perceived by their business colleagues as IT geeks. A digital CIO needs to reinvent such image and become a business strategist. Enterprise strategy is bigger than a department or a group. If the CIO comes only to speak about IT, he or she only acts as a functional manager, but in fact, the CIO is the most senior IT executive in an organization, and therefore, must be at the enterprise strategy table for co-creating business strategy. A great CIO should be able to not just understand business objectives and priorities, but also be able to break these down and cascade them downstream to his/her team in an IT-comprehensive format. The objective of the IT strategy is not just to be aligned with business strategy, but IT strategy is an integral part of business strategy. CIOs as business strategist have to always “keep the end” in mind, focus on solving business problems, not just overcoming technology challenges. It’s about having problem-solving skills and technological understanding that give you the ability to invent new ways to create or manage information effectively to drive business growth.

Now, Information Systems are impacting every business activities in the organization, CIOs must continue to reinvent themselves to gain respects from business peers. To be truly great, you have to be confident in build reputation as a business strategist, innovative leader and digital ambassador based on the hard-core knowledge and profound thinking skills, to run IT as a business catalyzer, and lead the digital transformation at the company scope even beyond more effortlessly.


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