Thursday, May 11, 2017

The Metaphorical Understanding about the Contemporary CIOs Multiple Personas

There are many interesting analogs to articulate the sophisticated role modern CIOs have to play, and they have to play well, to grow into the digital master.

Digital CIOs are the highly complex role, they must look at the future of business from both strategic planning and technology envisioning lens. They must look at where the business is today and where it will be in five to ten years and ensure that information & technology can enable that vision going forward. Contemporary CIOs are expected to play multiple personas; besides being the tactical IT manager, leadership is considered the top attribute for digital CIOs. Creativity and cognitive ability are both nature and nurtured to shape CIOs as "Chief Innovation Officer," and "Chief Insight Officer." Here is the metaphorical understanding of the contemporary CIO’s multiple personas.

CIOs as digital conductors: Forward-looking organizations are on the journey of digital transformation. Although it’s a collective leadership responsibility for both the senior executive team and BoD to lead business transformation and orchestrate a digital symphony. When it comes to IT and how it relates to business, this should be the CIO's role in conducting the digital music - not just the background music to support the melody; but playing a complex piece of the digital IT music sheet. The role of IT today for many organizations is a solutionary for business problems, an optimizer for business processes and capabilities, and an orchestrator for the digital transformation. The CIO as a conductor has to lead the in-house musicians and take into account the time lag of the orchestras in another time zone. They must simultaneously coordinate with distant contributors, otherwise, the music with jar the ears. IT is a critical note in the digital music sheet. There needs to be some in-depth technical understanding as well as business acumen. Take that away and you run the risk of the orchestra stopping altogether or, at least, playing the wrong tune! It is important for the CXOs to communicate seamlessly and work collaboratively in a business strategic planning and support capacity, to ensure that the information and IT services/solutions being delivered are what is needed for the business to play their music. Only business and IT work as a whole, the symphony can be orchestrated elegantly and harmoniously.

IT leaders and managers as gardeners: IT leaders should be like diligent gardeners, to take care of their plants (people, process, and technology). IT also needs to prune “the weed” regularly. Many IT organizations in legacy organizations or in legacy industries spend significant time, cost and resource to maintain the heavy systems or out of date apps. It's amazing how many systems and associated hardware/software you will find in large companies and many haven't been used for years. In many IT organizations, they want to transform IT but have no mechanism to articulate the costs or value of these systems. The IT optimization approach is to implement a program that like a gardener would prune the tree and nurture the optimal business solutions. Pruning the weeds would face resistance, however, at the end of the day, this was not just an IT decision, rather, it is the collective management decision to improve the overall business efficiency and agility. In addition, IT leaders and managers should like gardeners to sow the seeds of creativity and grow their talent, water them, fertilize them, and nurture their growth. Take all significant steps to transform IT from a cost center to an innovation hub, bring changes to itself as well as business-wide scope, and expedite high-performance business results. 

CIOs like plumbers to keep digital flow:
Digital is all about flow - data flow, information flow, mind flow, and idea flow. IT is shifting from “T” -technology oriented to “I”-information driven. Quite often, information is not tangible enough to make the business management feel any need to worry about Information Management. It is only when an event of consequence happens that they wake up and realize that Information Management has to get the proper attention and put on the top priority list of the management agenda. Perhaps we should first work to identify how information is associated with the valued tangibles of our businesses, our products, and our resources. Information in the business is just like the water in our household, or the blood in our body. Digital IT needs to be like the plumber to keep information flow and ensure that it flows across the silos and allows the right people getting the right information to make the right decisions. And decision makers can abstract the invaluable insight from the information to develop the right products/services for serving the right customers. How to manage information right is a fundamental requirement to become a digital master. Providing businesses the ability to apply real-time insights to the organization in ways is never possible before. With these insights, organizations acquire the ability to reshape products, services, and customer engagement.

Modern CIOs are creative leadership roles, therefore, the metaphorical understanding about contemporary CIOs' multiple personals is important to rise up the digital CIO's profile. The CIOs have to master multiple leadership and management roles well. They need to lead at the strategic level for conducting a complex digital orchestra; they should be handy managers to plumbing information and keep it flow smoothly; they also have to be like the diligent gardeners, to build a unique IT landscape via tuning technology, nurturing people and removing waste. Here are only three of many interesting analogs to articulate the sophisticated role modern CIOs have to play, and they have to play well, to grow into the digital master.


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