Saturday, August 26, 2017

How Can CIOs Earn Their Stripe as Transformative Digital Leaders

CIOs can earn their stripe as transformative digital leaders when they have changed the focus of their work, to focus on information, insight, and innovation.

With fierce competition and overwhelming growth of information, IT plays a critical role in building the business competency. Thus, the expectations for CIO have grown multifold, and they are expected to be visionary and change agent for business strategy and growth. There are different types of organizations at the different cycles in their maturity, the requirements of the Chief Information Officer are also vast and varied. In practice, how should IT leaders shift their role from the tactical manager to the strategic business executive? And how can CIO earn their stripe as transformative digital leaders?

Digital CIOs are information management masters: Digital technologies are more powerful and lightweight. Traditional IT organizations have spent too much time on “T,” maintaining monolithic IT infrastructure which costs the significant proportion of IT budget and resource, also decelerates IT speed and adaptability. With on-demand IT service delivery model and mosaic style consumer IT, CIOs today should become the information management masters, and fit the title as “Chief Information Officer.” Nowadays, the CIO is not just managing IT to keep the lights on but is managing the information to ensure the right people getting the right information at the right time to make the right decision. The digital CIO should focus on both information content and context; how that information can be tapped from the underlying data and be utilized to turn it into valuable strategic insight, and how that insight can be actively used in strategy management, customer experience management, performance management, etc. CIOs can earn their stripe as transformative digital leaders when they have changed the focus of their work, to focus on information, insight, and innovation, and involve co-creating business strategy. This will allow IT to shine in both roles –as enabler and driver.

Digital CIOs are change agents: Traditional IT leaders often act as the controller with a transactional mode to “keep the lights on” only, and IT is perceived by the business as the change laggard. To earn their stripe as transformative digital leaders, digital CIOs need to be a dynamic person with open, growth and complexity mindset, learning agility and creativity. Digital IT is designed for changes, and digital CIOs are change agents who not only touch their own IT function but also have to make the breadth and depth of impact on the entire organization and digital business ecosystem. With increasing pace of changes, the change agent CIOs need to define the change roadmap, serving as a framework upon which the solution can be implemented over time, develop methodologies and practices to build change as the business’s crucial capability. To earn their stripe as transformative digital leaders, CIOs have to become more visible, proactive and innovative, not just wait for the business’s requests, but harness IT-business communication and collaboration, take initiatives about changes, and embed change management mechanism into strategy management, and ensure IT is digital ready for providing ongoing service and solution delivery with repeatable management processes in place and improve the business effectiveness and maturity.

Digital CIOs must lead IT in reaching high-level performance and help the business generate revenue: Traditional IT is perceived as a cost center, and traditional IT leaders do not have a seat at the big table. To earn the stripe as a transformative digital leader, CIOs must have the growth mindset and intrapreneur spirit, to run IT as the business. 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. CIOs can help the business not only generate revenue but also create net profit via optimizing the cost of doing business, keep IT cost flat while at the same time maximizing its output. A digital ready CIO needs to be “commercial” and has some sales/market expertise to advocate IT as the revenue maker and rebrand IT as the innovation engine. CIOs will contribute to revenue generation when they are part of the senior executive team and board of directors, responsible for the revenue targets. On one side, CIOs work with the business on plugging revenue leakages, on the other side, business managers need back to back KPIs with CIOs on applications/service deliveries, so the organization achieves "oneness," achieve the high-performance result and reaches the high-level business maturity.

Since individuals have their own learning, growth, and maturity cycles, and leadership skill mix. To earn your stripe as transformative leaders, the skills that CIOs must exercise include strategy making and execution, sharing technology vision; providing digital transformation leadership for the organization. Generally speaking, the success of the CIO is based on how he/she is personally gratified with his/her performance, But first and foremost, the CIO role is shifting from an IT manager to a top leadership role in driving business’s digital transformation journey.


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