Thursday, October 19, 2017

CIOs as "Chief Improvement Officer" What are Digital CIOs' Skill Matrix?

The digital CIO's skills matrix is based on their leadership competency and IT expertise upon understanding business as a whole.

Due to the disruptive nature of technology and overwhelming growth of information, the role of CIO has to be reinvented for adapting to changes and re-energized for harnessing innovation. Digital CIOs need to develop a broad set of skills beyond technology and have the differentiated competency and recombinant professional capabilities and skills to lead the organization up to the next level of the business maturity. Here is the digital CIO’s skill matrix.

Leadership competency: Digital CIO is the top leadership role, and leadership is about future and direction. Hence, the skills CIOs should exercise including technological vision, strategic thinking, execution and innovation capability, etc. Like all digital leaders today, CIOs need to discover WHO they are and WHY they want to lead. Although the title is not as essential as responsibility, empowered CIOs can amplify their leadership influence more effectively. Forward-looking organizations should invite their CIOs to the seat at the big table and have the voice in strategy setting and business innovation, help to set digital standard and priority. The top CIOs today should be the specialized generalist to practice expert power. They must develop a broad set of skills, capabilities, and build a comprehensive leadership portfolio with differentiated leadership competency and hardcore leadership substances. The digital CIO’s leadership competency is based on their breadth of business knowledge and the depth of IT insight. Practicing expert power can deepen the CIO's leadership influence via connecting the minds and touching hearts, improve leadership empathy, effectiveness, and profundity.

Management proficiency: Digital CIOs are business leaders first, and IT managers second. IT management is a scientific management discipline and a set of practices that all of the information technology resources of the organization are managed in accordance with its priorities and needs. CIOs must be able to develop and optimize the IT operational function within itself and scale the best practice to the company scope. The business goals of IT is about leveraging information and technology to lower costs, improve operations, and increase revenue. CIOs need to encourage their teams to spend more time with customers, to improve the top-line business growth by maximizing ROI to add up overall business value in the second dimension. Thus, to improve their management proficiency, CIOs need to have the strategic understanding of the business goals, as well as the business acumen to implement them, make the strenuous effort on IT management effectiveness and operational excellence.  It is also important to have IT resources and talent aligned with the business strategies/objectives for doing the right things; refined to the point that they are nimble, can adapt to changing business demands in a timely fashion, can be reapplied to altering business priorities and be effective with little down curve. Or put simply, run IT as the business.

Innovative problem-solving: IT is neither an order taker nor a controller only, IT needs to become a business solutionary and trustful business partner. Business management is essentially a continuous process to solve business problems big or small, CIOs need to become innovative problem solvers because often IT plays a critical role in interpreting business issues into a technological solution, leverage necessary resources to solve well-defined business problems. IT also needs to be innovative and influential enough to impact and provide customers with better solutions, in a right manner, and at a reasonable cost. Being innovative means that IT can break down the old ways to do things, and discover the art of possible. This requires an in-depth understanding of the business and connect the wider dots for creative problem-solving, and help the entire business solve critical issues with long-term perspectives.

Multi-dialect digital fluency: Digital IT becomes the change agent of their company and is empowered to lead the digital transformation. The digital CIO should have both broad business acumen and deep technical expertise, with the capability to be fluent in digital dialect as well. Digital CIOs must be able to translate business issues and technical matters back and forth without “lost in translation.” Modern CIOs also need to become digital ambassadors for sharing the technological vision and be able to communicate with other business executives to demonstrate IT capabilities as a strategic enabler of the company. The CIO must be able to translate technical expertise into business opportunities. 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. There needs to be the constant voice and presence of a modern digital leader at the Executive Table who understands both technology and business intimately and interpret things intellectually. The digital CIO is in the unique position to not only ensure he/she communicates with empathy but also to streamline the organization’s digital communication channel and delivery.

There is now a greater need for a CIO to understand business drivers and equip with digital mindsets, apply digital technology to speed up IT and build business competency. IT leaders must stretch out, make the necessary role shift to get digital ready. The digital CIO's skills matrix is based on their leadership competency and IT expertise upon understanding business as a whole. They have to wear different hats and play multiple roles accordingly.


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