Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Refresh CIO Leadership to Accelerate Digital Transformation

Refreshing IT leadership is to keep the digital tempo for creating the business synergy and accelerating digital transformation.

The CIO role is considered a newer top executive role compared to other business executive positions. At the static industrial age, IT was perceived as a cost center, and CIOs were labeled as the technical geek and tactical manager, and the majority of IT organizations get stuck in the lower level of maturity.  However, due to the exponential growth of information and increasing speed of changes, technologies are often the disruptive force behind digital technologies. IT plays a more significant role in leading businesses forward at the front. So, how to refresh CIO leadership to accelerate digital transformation?

Every CIO is unique: Overall speaking, CIO is the leadership role, how CIOs provide the appropriate leadership and how they convey to leverage IT for the business value depends on CIOs' vision and leadership strength and style. Digital CIOs, are born to change, how they overcome these digital transformation challenges depend on their ability to think, adapt, proactively plan and execute, with a sense of humor. Every CIO is different and whatever the management team needs or wants at the time out of the CIO will also be different, and by the type of business needs will be different as well. Clearly, the role of IT and that of the CIO is going through significant changes, and the CIO role needs to be continually reimagined, refreshed, and reinvented. The point is: How is the CIO embedded in the organization and what can he/she do to improve his/her standing as part of the senior management team? Which qualities, business acumen, technical know-how, as well as leadership skills are required, and which are true differentiators? How does a CIO build a team that contributes to business success and elevate digital transformation? From the leadership perspective, every CIO is unique, CIOs need to present their leadership authenticity, enhance their unique leadership strength, practice the digital management philosophy they believe in, and tailor their own leadership/management style to make a digital fit.

CIOs need to have the capacity to learn, relearn, and adapt: No matter where you are in IT, the world changes with accelerated speed. IT is in the middle of a sea change, it is important to realize that there are basic principles and rules that make it work. But the self-centered "our jobs are hard" line only isolates IT more. Hence, the CIO needs to be able to listen to a wide range of opinions and approaches and understand how that might benefit the business. The ability to keep things up is the key. Digital is the age of options, it provides the opportunity to think the new way to do things. Experience is a wonderful thing in that it helps you put things in context. But the willingness to try something new, to test, to learn what you knew again, with new perspectives, to listen and remain balanced, can make IT work in an optimal way. The increasing speed of changes forces IT leaders to get really creative on how they architect and implement change, to ensuring IT is strategically positioned to be ahead of where the business is moving next while, at the same time, being so tactically pinned down by existing legacy technologies and inefficient/outdated business processes. Regardless of background, to refresh CIO leadership, a great CIO should have learning agility and be a good communicator, understand both sides of the business and bridge the gaps effectively.
Digital CIOs have “multi-faceted personas,” to practice the situational leadership accordingly: Digital CIOs need to be the business strategist, digital visionary; customer advocate, talent master; process overseer and governance champion, and most importantly, they are the innovative leader to drive the business’s digital transformation. Sometimes organizations go stale and need a so-called "shot in the arm" of someone who thinks differently. To refresh CIO leadership, forward-looking organizations often take the “fresh blood” scenario where a CIO is brought in from outside the vertical industry to reinvigorate an IT organization. So, the outlier CIO can bring the fresh viewpoint via “out of the box” thinking and reinvent IT radically, as more innovation is powered by IT. Digital CIOs also need to be able to communicate skillfully to avoid the “lost in translation” syndrome. To refresh IT leadership, CIOs should be able to look ahead and the relevance of certain trends in its industry may indicate. In addition, a CIO must find the connection with the business in order to deliver the tailored business solution, not just IT projects. The technology trend moves very quickly, IT needs to take quick action to changes.

Refreshing IT leadership is to keep the digital tempo for creating the business synergy and accelerating digital transformation. CIOs must set the principles, guidelines, and rules to run a digital IT. Make sure that nothing is dismissed due to out of date beliefs or the natural human emotions. Make sure that the external customers who purchase products or services have a great experience relating to any IT systems that impact them. Make sure IT is no longer just a commodity service provider, but a business differentiator.