Thursday, November 16, 2017

The CIO’s Digital Mojo

The charm of digital CIOs is their changeability.

The disruption of IT will continue. Embracing digital is inevitable as that is now part of the reality. In order to lead change and drive digital transformation. IT has to speed up and be nimble to changes. CIOs also need to build their reputation as the top business leader, not just the tactical IT manager or technical geek. What are contemporary CIOs’ digital mojo, and how to reinvent IT to get digital ready?

The digital CIO’s mojo is to dream big, with the ability to make it the reality: Nowadays, technology changes very quickly, you must first be aware of new technology before you can learn how to apply it to the business. As an IT leader, CIOs should have technological vision and awareness, and understand what implies to the future of the business. They should pay enough attention to “WHY” and “WHAT” before jumping into “HOW” to get things done. Digital is the age of innovation, it is particularly important for practicing innovative IT leadership because technology is the disruptive force and information is the invaluable asset of the business. The charm of digital CIOs is their creativity, they can dream bigger for envisioning the full-fledged digital organization, and “sell the dream” via empathetic communication. The CIO’s digital mojo is to lead boldly in grasping the business growth opportunities, but also be logical enough to implement it, manage risks, and guide the team to make it happen. As the great leader, digital CIOs can draw from their expertise and experience of those talented people around them, craft and cast the vision for the ways in which digital technologies can create sustainable business value, challenge the better way to do things and make continuous improvement. Digital is the age of options, it provides the opportunity to think the new way to do things, so it forces IT leaders to get really creative on solving the emergent or old problems in new or alternative ways.

The CIO’s digital mojo is to run IT as the business, with the startup mentality: Digital CIOs play an intrapreneur and transformational leadership role. Practicing intrapreneurship means to run IT as a business, to ensure that IT is strategically positioned to be ahead of where the business is moving next. It is also about running IT as a business, with a healthy and shortened business cycle of planning, funding, designing, building, operating, securing, optimizing and maturing. The charm of digital CIOs is their “intrapreneur’s mindset,” be able to expand their thinking boxes and get a better understanding of the current box, figuring out which of them makes sense to challenge and apply creativity tools via exploring, divergence, and convergence to arrive at a useful new box. So, they can work both in IT and on IT seamlessly, to become a trustful business partner. CIOs need to be clear on what needs to achieve in terms of top line, bottom line, and working in tandem with other departments to achieve the IT goals. The CIO’s digital Mojo is to reinvent IT from a support center to a change agent via breaking down silos or outdated rules or processes. The charm of digital CIOs is their changeability. Where transactional managers make only minor adjustments in the organization’s mission, structure, and talent management, etc., transformational leaders not only make major changes in these areas but also they evoke fundamental changes in the structural and cultural systems of the organization.

The digital CIO’s mojo is to orchestrate their own IT sheet music, not just the background music: Digital CIOs are in a unique position to align process, technology, and people, from generating ideas on applying technology and data assets to drive value, the oversight is needed in managing the full innovation lifecycle. With the fast pace of changes and emergent on-demand IT service model,  IT is shifting from a builder to a conductor in knitting all important business factors, to ensure that it is designed for change, and build the dynamic IT competency with shortened products and services delivery model, with the goal to improve business changeability, responsiveness, innovativeness, flexibility, and maturity. Technology by itself is the means to the end, not the end itself. Applying technical capabilities to business opportunities is where the magic happens. The charm of digital IT leaders is their ability to demonstrate in very tangible ways that IT understands businesses and they understand different business dialects to tailor the audience, and convey the clear messages to build a strong IT brand.

Digital transformation is a thorny journey with multidimensional aspects. With increasing pace of changes and exponential growth of information, CIOs are not just the static IT management role, they generally have greater opportunities to stand out and practice digital leadership in driving innovation and leading digital transformation across their companies.


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