Tuesday, October 31, 2017

CIOs as Chief Insight Officer: How to Reach the High Level of IT Maturity

CIOs need to capture the full picture, the holistic business insight, rather than IT picture only.

If traditional IT organizations act more like a service provider and builder, and then digital IT acts more as a business solutionary and an orchestrator, to conduct an information-mature, customer-centric digital organization. To lead effectively, CIOs need to deal with constant ambiguity and digital disruptions, as they continue to be put on the front line, they need to ensure their organization is ready for changes, space and time are made to scope, plan, and execute. Due to change nature of technology and fast growth of information, CIOs naturally gravitate to a leadership role when things are unknown, things will change, technology is involved, or a tough business problem has to be solved. They must act as “Chief Insight Officer,” to bring unique insight to the big table, and keep improving IT maturity to get digital ready.

Digital CIOs understand business needs and shorten IT delivery cycle: The best way to bridge the IT-business gap and achieve trustful partnership is to learn each other via empathetic listening and intellectual inquisitiveness. The CIO needs to understand the needs of the different business units, but business needs/vision should be spelled out by their functional leaders. Be careful, you do not want to come across as having a solution looking for a problem. CIOs need to know and relate to the business value and how they quantify that value first before you can add value to it. So let them tell you their stories, their pains, and expectations. From IT management perspective, application development can add value to any organization if it understands the various business lines needs and wants; it can also provide cross-line synergies by understanding the interfaces between lines, understands the organization’s internal directors/goals, the future of the industry, and strategic vision of the company. CIOs can either buy or build, to expedite IT delivery cycle, IT leaders need to leverage the available products/services from vendors, also build the stuff which is critical to enable the business, but not commercially available or create significant barriers either in cost or capability. Any effort that allows a CIO to deliver value to his/her customers faster than the competition or helps IT to build the differentiated capability to drive business growth is worth unrelenting focus.

Digital CIOs can provide a holistic business insight via effective information management: Keep in mind, the CIO is a business executive first, an IT manager for the second. CIOs as “Chief Insight Officer” means that they can manage information well, abstract real-time business insight and bring unique value to catalyze business growth. If there is a conflict inherent in serving both individual business units and the enterprise as a whole, as the rationalization in many cases serves the enterprise at the cost of specific units. Thus, CIOs need to capture the full picture, the holistic business insight, rather than IT picture only. CIOs can provide valuable insight in the form of money saved, revenue from new unexplored business idea etc. CIOs can build business competency as many businesses will plateau without IT, so there is a co-dependency that should be recognized in a mature, with a respectful manner that facilitates strategic goals and objectives of the enterprise. It’s a team effort!

Digital CIOs make IT more transparent and advocate IT organization as the business partner: Traditional IT was run as an isolated support function and being perceived as a cost center. To improve IT maturity. CIOs as “Chief Insight Officer” need to practice critical thinking and creative thinking, convey a clear message to have the business buy-in, invite the business to learn IT and provide feedback for IT improvement. The best CIOs are good salespeople who see opportunities to save money, become more customer experience oriented, or come up with definitive competitive advantages, and with a business mindset. CIOs as the “Chief Insight Officer” with effective IT promotion skill know how to explain technical concepts to technical people and non-technical people, without “lost in translation.” They also have the expertise to understand the value and benefit of an IT initiative and how that will positively change an organization or business process. IT needs to communicate the new perspective effectively in order for the organization as a whole to improve business maturity and move forward on the journey of digital transformation with a steadfast pace.

The most wanted vision is insight. Thus, CIOs have to foresee, anticipate business needs for information and then prepare and gear up the information systems to not only make pertinent information readily to top business decision makers but also preempt the need and present the value accordingly. CIOs as “Chief Insight Officer” have an in-depth understanding of the business, they can manage business information effectively and run a real-time, smart business effortlessly.


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